There is a part of the marriage ceremony Mike & I consider the most important part of our vows: To forsake all others and become one. Sounds easy, doesn't it? In truth it is very hard to live. What this means is we reserve the best of ourselves for each other. We do not give that away to family, friends, children, or our careers. We hold that close to our hearts and mutually make sacrifices for the relationship. We are intentional about being in a good mood with and for each other when we come home from our work days. No matter how crappy, we come home offering positive anecdotes about our day, or focused on what is good about it. We use our drive time to decompress from the negativity of office politics and often stupid people we encounter, and get into a positive frame of mind. We want our time at home to be spent loving each other with our words, behaviors, and thoughts. We want our time off to be fun! This takes practice and discipline.
How this translates for Mike as a police officer is we make decisions about his career together. Mike knows what he chooses to do will affect our relationship. He includes me in the decision of what shift he will choose, whether or not to accept overtime (and he better accept overtime!), when and if to sit for the Sergeant's exam, and whether to pursue any special assignments. He also keeps me up to date on the gossip, how the people on his shift are doing in their personal lives, and what he did that day. He shares the excitement, the mundane, the frustrations, and the pain of his job. I have noticed many officers do not share this part of them with their partner at home, but keep them at arm's length. They keep it close to the vest. I encourage each officer to talk with their spouse to see if this harms or helps the relationship. Be open to feedback and make the appropriate changes.
Mike and I also keep the marriage at the forefront by checking in with each other by asking a very vulnerable question: Mike will ask me how am he is doing as a husband, and I will ask him how am I doing as a wife. We follow it up with are you happy in the marriage and is there anything you need from me? We are honest with our answers while being kind in our message. Sometimes it is difficult to hear each others' response, but we want our marriage to survive in a culture where marriages traditionally do not thrive, and in a time when so many give up so easily. We do not want to become another statistic. Plus, life rocks when a marriage is solid and we are committed to putting in the work needed.
Being married to a cop can be awesome! You can see a different side of life than most people ever experience through your partner's eyes, and by taking an active part in his or her world. You have the opportunity to be accepted into a uniquely close fraternity. You can share the excitement and fun the career offers, in your support and love for your cop. However, it also brings unique challenges to the relationship and requires a bit of extra care. In order for a marriage to survive, any marriage, we must first forsake all others and become one.