"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature."
Life is stressful and law enforcement life adds to it. But, it's a life we and our loved ones chose, so finding ways to neutralize the stress is important to keeping our sanity. Research shows having a network of supportive friends has health benefits, including stress reduction. Strong relationships improve other relationships in your life. To keep your marriage healthy, look to your friends.
"Friends are the sunshine of life."
For years, the medical community believed stress caused the fight-or-flight reaction in humans regardless of gender. UCLA Doctors Laura Cousino Klein and Shelley Taylor, reflecting on the bonding women in their lab did when under stress, began to question this. The results of their study surprised the scientific community, but not most women. The study supported "that females create, maintain, and utilize these social groups, especially relations with other females, to manage stressful conditions." Instead of the fight-or-flight response of men, women's biological response is more of a "tend-and-befriend". Women group together to support each other when stressed out. The urge to call a friend when you're upset is not only based in your experience, but in your biology.
"A friend is a gift you give yourself." --Robert Louis Stevenson
Although your spouse is often your best friend, this doesn't diminish the need to have a social network. In fact, the stresses inherent in law enforcement marriages increase the need to have a friend or two to talk to when things seem overwhelming. Besides, it's nice to have a friend over for coffee those mornings when court has stolen your husband or for popcorn and a movie when shiftwork leaves you alone on Friday night. It's especially beneficial when two law enforcement spouses can support each other. A deep understanding of the costs and benefits of LE relationships often binds friends together. Also, these friends won't expect you to ask your husband any questions relating to their rights after a traffic stop.
"Friends are needed both for joy and sorrow." --Samuel Paterson.
According to the UCLA study and common knowledge, friendships improve the quality of life of women. They also improve the quality of your marriage. According to an article by Shelley Kimmons Bacote, "Women and men think and communicate differently. Sometimes women need to be around other women who understand what it's like to be wives and mothers, friends who can offer spiritual guidance and healthy perspective." This perspective can improve your relationship, especially when the aggravation of police work has blinded you to the virtues of the man you love. Bacote explains how friendships encourage and energize, and spouses benefit from the overflow. "The more encouragement a husband and wife share, the more energized and fulfilling their marriage will be," she states. In addition, the healthier you feel physically and mentally, the better your sex life will be, and both of you will thank your friends for that.
"Loneliness is the most terrible poverty." --Mother Teresa
Due to the isolation of police culture, finding meaningful relationships can be difficult. Many steps which can be taken to overcome loneliness, regardless of whether you are the out-going party girl or the shy stay-at-home woman. Elizabeth Scott, M.S. suggests the following: