I met my husband at the local Harvest Festival. I had come home from college for the summer, and following family tradition, my siblings and I planned to attend the event together. Little did I know, my brother’s best friend was bringing along my future husband. They were roommates, and now coworkers who had gone through the Police Academy together.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I will say that it was love at first sight. Well, for myself anyway. My husband is your typical “intelligent” type who would never make that big of an assumption so quickly. He came around though, and after two years of dating, he had the talk with my father, and proposed under a stately oak tree at sunset.
Throughout the past six years of marriage, there is one question that I am most commonly asked, “Isn’t it hard being a cop’s wife?” Unless you have walked in the shoes of an officer’s wife, the question seems so simple. Yes or no. I assume most have already decided the answer will be yes when they ask, so I throw them off and respond with an honest, no. You see, over the years I have learned that the answer is actually not as simple as yes or no; but, as not to spend an entire day explaining the ups and downs, I have come up with a very generic reply that seems to satisfy most.
The truth, I’ve learned is that the individual officer, spouse, and officer’s team all play a big role in how difficult or easy the life is to live with. Do I worry? Yes, I do. However, it’s not on a regular basis. My husband has made choices within his career that have landed him in a position that make life on our family much easier. There were days in the early years when he was in patrol, that I worried. I wasn’t a fan of street patrol. He never knew who he was going to encounter, or their motives, and in my eyes it was much scarier. During those times, I took relief in the thought that his best friend was his partner, and I knew that they would be there for each other. While life on the streets was far more exciting, he made the move to a special unit when our first daughter was born. This gave him a regular schedule that did not include working nights, holidays or going into court on his days off. Don’t get me wrong, these things still do happen; it’s just not as frequently. Yes, this can be frustrating; and yes, I dream of the day I can wake up at the same time as my husband, share a quick cup of coffee and kiss him goodbye. I long for the day that I can depend on him being home in the evenings, so that we can have a solid schedule and help getting the girls to bed, the things most families have and take for granted. But, it is my responsibility to look at the perks of the job, of my husband, and the man he is.
Divorce rates are extremely high in the law enforcement field. It’s very clear that the cards are stacked against a young couple. Knowing this, even before we married, my husband and I had to be sure that we were making a commitment with a strong willed person that didn’t believe in giving up. Luckily, we are two of the most stubborn people I know (funny, I never thought those words would come out of my mouth). Giving up is not an option, and it can’t be.
Law enforcement is a very easy job to get wrapped up in…another thing that is difficult for the unfamiliar to understand. At work, they are surrounded by fellow officers who understand them, their feelings, the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies the feelings of adrenaline spikes and falls. At home, it’s an entirely different world, and I am lucky enough to have a husband who tries his hardest to separate the two.
When our second daughter was born, we had another big change within my husband’s career. He had achieved his goal of becoming a member of the highly respected SERT (our cities SWAT) team. This was a big deciding point for us. I knew it was his ultimate goal, and had been since before he even became an officer. I also knew it meant more time away, more life threatening situations. Here is where the team comes into play. When I first met my husband’s SERT sergeant, he greeted me not with a firm handshake, but a bear hug. He very genuinely thanked me for lending my husband to the team, and for supporting him. This went a long way with me. I try to remember this when my husband is away, and take comfort in the thought that he is working with the best of the best.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we were home getting ready for our oldest daughter’s birthday party. A page went out for a SERT call out (they are on call 24-7). My husband had taken the day off the pager so that he wouldn’t miss the party. Still, he instantly grabbed his radio and tuned in. He sat, intensely listening to the voices and static. Initially, I was irritated, for one day, let it go! Then I realized something about my husband that made me admire him even more. He was torn. There he sat, a strong man, committed to two very important families. I told him that he could go if he wanted, that family could help me pull off the party. He didn’t. He chose to stay. My admiration didn’t necessarily come from that decision, rather the fact that he was torn. To me, it was proof of his priorities. He didn’t want to let anyone down. He is a pleaser, and he pleases me greatly. So, is it hard being married to a cop? Not for me.
Next time you, or someone you know decides to go on a cop bashing rampage, please remember that they too are human beings, doing a difficult job, and at some time during the day or night will go home to a family that loves them very much.