At the time we married, we were both in graduate school and working full-time. Mike’s employer was going through administration changes and he soon found his job – a fun and rewarding blend of staff supervision and training with direct, hands-on work with his kids - was being restructured. As the new regime steadily reduced his responsibilities and influence he realized they were in the process of eliminating his job and the leadership jobs of several of his close colleagues. As I watched him go through this I saw his hope in his future disappear. He was irritable and just going through the motions. It pained me to watch him this way and I became restless in my heart. I knew we needed some changes and I could not go through life watching the love of my life unfulfilled in his career. So, as I often do, I listened to my what my heart, my head, and my gut was telling me and told Mike I wanted him to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer. This was one of the scariest conversations I ever had; I was putting trust in him he would not abandon me emotionally. I had already had a lifetime of pain and I did not know if I could endure more, but I also knew that I also could not endure to see him in this state. I put complete trust and faith in him that he would uphold his marriage vows to never forsake me, that we would always be one, and to always love, honor, and cherish me.
Mike was 30 years old when he finally became a cop and it has been a 17 year learning curve of how to make this lifestyle work. There have been a lot of painful times along the way, where one or both of us struggled with the challenges inherent in the job and strained our relationship in the process. I would love to say it has not been lonely but, as all police spouses and significant others will testify to, it is often very lonely. It can be what we sometimes refer to as being a “single wife.” It does mean holidays and weekends apart, weird hours and shift work, and unexpected overtime. But when he comes home at the end of his shift, I have a husband I am proud of for the work he does. In return, I get to be a part of something special. I’ve gotten to expand who I am personally and professionally, and being close to Mike’s career has benefitted my own. And I’m part of a unique lifestyle I never thought I could tolerate, let alone embrace.
Mike and I have been dedicated to again taking on and writing about relationship issues in Officer.com this year, lately focusing on what we call “The Concept of WE vs I” (lead linked below) and the four pillars supporting it. The second of those pillars is “Forsaking All Others” and that is what this article is about. To help fulfill Mike’s dream of being a cop I needed to make a sacrifice, which ultimately was a decision in favor of the relationship over my personal desires. What I was willing to forsake were dreams of “normalcy” and the 9 to 5 stability I craved.
This is Part I of II in our examination of “”Forsaking All Others.” In Part II we will go even deeper into what is one of the most challenging things any person can do to ensure the success of their relationship, what it means for successful couples, and how to make “forsaking” a reciprocal - and rewarding - part of your relationship.