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It is well known that law enforcement can be hard on relationships and especially marriages (or similar primary “significant other” relationships).
It is debatable whether the divorce rate among couples where one or both are officers is higher than that of the general public.
In the dark times, this knowledge is what gets me through, so I lean into the pain that allows me to move onto the next moments in time because, while the loneliness visits, it doesn’t stay for long.
We’ve long used our writing to urge officers to be “more than a cop,” not because there is anything wrong with that identity, but it is an easy identity to get lost in and so is that of spouse or partner.
But we do know many officers who have been married multiple times, with the accompanying joke being that by the third or fourth wife the officer generally gets it right. The first two years we were not a law enforcement couple as Mike became a cop later than average at the age of 30. We were both in graduate school, working difficult jobs with long hours in mental health, and struggling with financial and family issues that threatened our young marriage.
We realized we needed help so, rather than letting the pain push us apart, we headed into marriage counseling.
I’m an extremely extroverted person and had grown up with a very dysfunctional family life.
The lifestyle can become “who you are” instead of just a part of who you are.
What we learned led to an ongoing dedication to reading, researching and implementing skills and behaviors that ultimately got us through 21 years being a police couple.
We learned marriage takes a commitment to wake up every day and say, “I’m going to honor my marriage vows through my words and my behavior, even when I’m tired, pissed off or hungry, and I’m never going to let resentment take the place of love.”We thought it would be fun for each of us to offer our point of view as to how we make our marriage work.
The myth perpetuates the idea of each cop as a noble, self-sacrificing, intrepid crime fighter standing bravely along the thin blue line, lonely and misunderstood but for our brothers and sisters in blue. I also know courage, a willingness to sacrifice everything at a moment’s notice, a sense of defining honor, and an overarching drive for justice are at the core of every good cop. I just know we all – and I am including myself here – would do well to embrace humility, for our own sake and that of our relationships.
A lot of advice is given to police spouses, and particularly wives, about how to take care of their officers and create a safe and supportive space to which they can retreat from the stresses of the job.
Being married to someone who goes out and makes a difference every day – serving the public and being the peacemaker so our communities are safe – takes a special type of person.