Married to the Badge
Updated: Apr 14, 2019
If you do a quick Google search for law enforcement marriage blogs, you will find a sad stash of blogs belaying the tragedy of being married to a police officer. The blogs are rife with complaints about strange work schedules, missed dinners, and empty bedrooms.
I truly DO sympathize with genuine pain regarding a spouse's career in law enforcement, however I don't believe that we should just feel sad and stop there. I wanted to do a quick guide on how to deal with being married to the badge, WITHOUT all the complaining and crying. Here we go!
*** (I would also say that these tips can help any wife/girlfriend struggling with a husband in a dangerous service related industry: soldier, commercial pilot, firefighter, FBI, James Bond, Captain America etc.)
1. LEARN about your husband's work
For some, there is nothing more terrifying than the unknown. I have seen this personally. My husband's family members who avoid listening to his stories out of fear are also the ones walking around with the most anxiety and sadness about his career. Their refusal to learn what's going on at his work leaves room for terrifying images and stories to fill their heads instead! The truth is often not as exciting or scary as you will imagine it to be.
It's nice to feel like people worry about your safety, but it's not nice when no one will listen to stories from your life out of fear. This reaction only makes our spouses feel more isolated: like the only ones who understand them are fellow LEO's.
I honestly feel that if you can watch Dexter, Law and Order, or even an episode of Vampire Diaries or Grey's Anatomy, you can handle listening to your husband's stories.
2. I don't waste emotional energy on worrying
Now that statement doesn't mean I NEVER worry, it just means that worrying isn't my default setting when hubby goes to work. I've always believed the following statement, and as dark as it is, it's truly helped me:
if my husband is going to be killed on the job someday, there is absolutely NOTHING I can do to stop it.
It is completely out of my hands: he's wearing the badge, and it's his lifelong career. It is truly out of my hands as much as someone's accountant husband getting T-boned on his way to work. NO one is immortal, and worrying about your husband dying on the job is only going to put stress on him AND the marriage.
I don't ever think about him dying on the job, I just pray for his safety every day. Get a good life insurance plan and lean into your faith.
3. Build a community
Find other POSITIVE LEO wives to commiserate with. I stress the word positive because I truly believe that the people you surround yourself with have a HUGE impact on who you will become.
There's just nothing life-giving about hanging around and being sad about the badge. Finding positive wives, or just friends who genuinely care about your life will lift you up and out of your miserable self-pity.
Build a life that doesn't revolve around your identity as a police officer's wife: it's probably not the most interesting part about you!
Create a community that cares about YOU, and that can talk about more than just police stuff. This community is important because they will be there to rally around you in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
4. Encourage further training
My husband is constantly receiving more education and training from the state police. This is awesome because he is consistently learning how to be safer, better at his job, and a more effective Trooper in general.
Remember, there are more threats to a career in Law Enforcement than dying on the job: shoddy detective work, or unprofessional interviewing can all result in a world of legal trouble.
Further training is a form of protection on the job, but also legally for your family. When an opportunity comes up for further training, try and ALWAYS make it work for your family and encourage your husband to do it.
5. Learn to feel "safe" alone
Many LEO wives are tuned into local crime more than the average lady living alone. I think this can make us feel more unsafe when we're dealing with a hubby on night shift.
Our family owns a large black German Shepherd, who is definitely my protector. And even though I don't like guns, I know how to shoot one, and at the very least, I ALWAYS lock all the doors when I am home alone, day or night.
Figure out what you need to do to feel comfortable and safe as an independent woman at home. I'm positive that if you ask your LEO husband for shooting lessons, he will be more than happy to treat you to them.
Final thoughts: there is a time and a place to feel miserable about being alone in the evenings, missing dinners together, and not seeing each other enough. I truly sympathize with you. Trust me, I've gone to that place now and then.
However, worrying, crying, and feeling like a martyr are a fast way to attention and sympathy, but a long ways away from feeling confident in your life. All of these tips are going to help you feel more in control of your situation and life.
Remember that this job isn't temporary, it's your life, and it's up to YOU to learn how to make the most of it.