A lot of jobs require shift work but few have the unpredictability of law enforcement. How often have you had to cancel plans at the last minute, or dragged yourself home, hungry and exhausted, after working several unexpected hours of overtime? We all appreciate the money, and it is not so bad to have it happen occasionally, but when unpredictability becomes the norm it can have a large impact on a relationship and a sex life.
The partner of a cop lives everyday with a certain degree of fear. You go off to work each day wearing a gun and they know exactly what that means. If you've been together for awhile they have probably seen you come home banged-up, bruised, bloody, or bandaged, and they know they will again. Always in the back of their mind is the question, "Is this the day the Chief knocks on my door?"
This small, constant fear, especially if it is not acknowledged or talked about very often, can have a huge emotional and physiological impact and can become a wall between a couple. The fear may drive a partner to be emotionally and physically distant rather than intimate.
Tension outside of the bedroom does not translate to romance inside the bedroom. Police work brings you into contact with a lot of angry, upset, stressed out people, many of whom are only too happy to project their anger onto you. It is not unusual to encounter a stream of these people all day long, nearly every day. Over time this "anger-state" becomes normalized for the officer, maybe even necessary for his or her on-the-job survival, but this will cause relationship conflict if this "anger-state" is your approach with your partner. They may experience you as critical and judgmental. Instead leave the cop at work and replace the anger with tenderness, kindness, love, affirmation, and respect.
Having a mutually sexually satisfying relationship is a challenge for most couples. Next month we will examine more of those challenges.