The best slogan for this step has to be "Police Wife: Toughest Job on the Force." An uncontrollable snort of agreement escapes most officers' spouses when they see this written on a t-shirt. I don't think I've ever seen anyone wearing one. Of course, this is probably due to a wish to avoid a lecture from said police husband about not advertising his occupation in public. Regardless, a clear understanding of both the officer's job and the job of being the officer's spouse can lead to a happier relationship. The stress inherent in police work can affect even the most balanced person. No one is closer to your spouse than you are, putting you in a unique position to watch for signs work is getting to them. Every person who loves a police officer should know about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its symptoms. Early detection of excessive drinking, depressed behavior and other stress-related effects can get your officer healthy again quickly. Suicide and other self-destructive behaviors are common, although rarely talked about. Often officers do not recognize the signs they are being affected by their work. Their spouse can protect them from their job just by being observant. If you suspect a problem, a call to the department chaplain or a peer counselor could help.
Also important is to appreciate the little things. Often our officers are working overtime, spending most of their time at home sleeping and feeling left out of the family dynamic. Many times, the small things they do, like handling a load of laundry, taking the kids to the park or making dinner, is all they have time to do. We need to appreciate these things, even though it's easy to think, "Why should I pat his back for doing the dishes? I did them the other fifty times." Remember positive thinking can change the atmosphere. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need, but don't forget to thank him for the little things.
As police spouses, we have the power to define our marriages in whatever terms we want. Although being married to an officer controls many things, such as schedules and who gets to play chauffeur, we each have the power to make things more pleasant at home. Positive thinking, creating a warm atmosphere, and understanding the job are small steps each of us can take every day. With enough effort, soon people will be saying, "With the amount of stress in law enforcement, it's amazing how strong police marriages are." The thought of that day is what keeps the ring on my left hand and my arms wrapped tightly around my husband, who also happens to work for a police department.