To commit to his job means choosing a good attitude when he’s at the jail late and you have to put the kids to bed by yourself. It means talking out your frustrations with him at an appropriate time instead of as he’s heading out the door for his shift. It is knowing full well that it may have to be this way until he catches that thief or arrests that killer. It means slipping into survival mode for a time to make things work. It may mean growing up a bit, having. But then, at the appropriate occasion, voice your concerns courageously instead of stuffing them inside to fester. Committing to his job means knowing that seasons come and go, persevering, and looking forward. This is tough to do and will take some practice, so let me give you one more perspective on this.
Partners at Home
Shortly after I started writing this book, word was spreading about what I was doing. I got a phone call one morning from a sergeant in our employee assistance unit with her full support. She told me that the timing was right for my book, as “the face of law enforcement is changing. We are discovering more and more the importance of emotional care for our officers, and we’re doing something about it. The families are a big component of that.”
My husband and I knew this early on in our marriage. He told me from the beginning that he couldn’t do this without me. I believed it then and even more so now. Your guy can go through the academy, he can train, and he can save lives, but there is another side of him that really needs you. Your respect can bolster his confidence. Your support can give him that extra emotional stability that he will need as his job wears him down. Your love can break down the walls he’ll be tempted to build around himself when what he sees hurts his sense of how the world should be. It may seem a little overstated to some, but when I say you are a not-so-silent partner behind the badge, our everyday reality shows it to be true.
Understanding your role in the big picture here can help you deal with the negative pieces of his job and convince you to commit to the cause. There is something to be said about the satisfaction in being a part of something bigger than yourself.
Commit to the Adventure
Solemn commitments are there for the long haul, put in place for the protection of you, your husband, and your marriage. But there are many seasons of pure enjoyment and fulfillment! There are many positive things about being the wife of a police officer. I chose a long time ago to look at our life together as an adventure. I chose a life of ups and downs, twists and turns, highs, lows, and everything in between. And I love it!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" November 26th, 2012
Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder
Are you all in? Or will you balk when hard times put you to the test? Are you willing to take courageous, proactive steps to nurture that commitment? I will talk more about these steps in Chapter 11, but for now fasten your seatbelt! Your seatbelt of commitment, that is. A seatbelt is protection we depend on every time we get in the car. It may seem a bit confining or claustrophobic to some, but it’s necessary. Our husbands can attest to accidents they’ve seen that, had the victims worn seatbelts, they would’ve been a lot better off. In many cases it is the difference between life and death. When trouble comes, it is the one thing that holds us in place when all else is sliding every which way. In like manner, commitment does the very same thing. But you have to choose to put it on ahead of time. Trying to do so at the moment of impact is impossible. It’s too late.
Commit to the Job
Before your husband was allowed to pin his badge on his uniform, he had to swear an oath to protect and to serve the people of his jurisdiction. Here are a couple examples:
“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” FBI
“To serve the United States of America and the State of California honestly, and conscientiously; and fulfill my oath as a soldier of the law; To uphold and maintain the honor and integrity of the California Highway Patrol; Be loyal to my fellow officers; respect and obey my seniors in rank; and enforce the law without fear, favor, or discrimination; Assist those in peril or distress, and, if necessary, lay down my life rather than swerve from the path of duty; My personal conduct shall at all times be above reproach and I will never knowingly commit any act that will in any way bring discredit upon the California Highway Patrol or any member thereof; To all of this I do solemnly pledge my sacred honor as an Officer of the California Highway Patrol.” CHP
The oath your husband swore as a peace officer affects you whether you like it or not. At times this oath will take precedence over things that are very important to you—birthday parties, family dinners, and holidays, to name a few. And it’s easy to resent your husband’s job when a couple of missed events stack up. This oath can be a foe, or, with the right mindset, it can be a friend. At the very least, we can make peace with it. It’s your choice. When he’s running “all roads, all codes” with his hair on fire, will you commit yourself to accept not only the benefits of his job but also the consequences? I may be sounding a bit like Officer Negative (see “Introduction”), but he was right; marriage is hard. Being a cop’s wife is even harder. But what does commitment look like?
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" November 19th, 2012
Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder
Commit to Your Marriage
Every time I visit the grocery store, I’m reminded how easily promises are made and broken in relationships. While I am putting my food items on the conveyor belt, my eye is drawn to the magazines for the latest Hollywood gossip. This couple is history. That actor dumped his actress lover for another. Secret sexual trysts. Some of these people change partners as often as they change clothes. I assume that not all of it is true. I understand that the drama is what gets the press. And I know that much of the world doesn’t hold the same values as these people. But because of the inundation of careless disregard for commitment that permeates our culture, we can’t help but be influenced by it in our thinking.
When a marriage experiences tough times, there are some who turn to other options way too soon.
Our wedding day was perfect. But two days before, we had the biggest fight we’ve had in our entire relationship. Brent and I spent several hours working through a fundamental issue that drew in several people in our wedding party. Looking back, I suppose we could’ve called it off. But we didn’t. Because our minds were already geared that we were in it for keeps, we took the time to wrestle through the drama and get down to the core issue. After the tears dried, we were freed up to thoroughly enjoy our wedding and honeymoon.
Even though we were very young, we understood “for better or worse.” True and unwavering commitment requires a purposeful steeling of the mind. It’s an attitude that doesn’t consider divorce an option. And it is the glue that will hold a couple together through the messiest of times.
The Escape Clause
It doesn’t matter how awesome your guy is; there will be a time when your mind will be tempted to entertain other options. Boredom, loneliness, a grass-is-greener moment, another handsome uniform—there are lots of temptations that come along that threaten your marital commitment. If your mind isn’t engaged for the long-haul, it could get you into trouble. When I married Brent, I gave my whole heart to him. Or so I thought. A year or two into our marriage, I realized that there was a little spot inside me that I reserved for the “what if ”. What if he is killed on duty? What if he leaves me for someone else? These were fears that I held in the back of my mind. For a time, I developed a place to retreat to in my mind, just in case these fears came to life. I call this protective inner wall the escape clause. And when things got a little tough, I’d retreat behind that wall and let my mind wander. I’d put together a plan. Where I’d go, how I’d react, and, sometimes, whom I’d consider dating if Brent were gone. Eventually I challenged myself to stay away from the escape clause; it made my commitment waver. And when things got more difficult, I didn’t need the temptation to run.
The escape clause has to be taken in context. I am referring to secret thoughts of a woman that are meant to protect but actually hinder her from commitment and complete intimacy. These thoughts are based on a fear of being hurt. By no means am I referring to a relationship in which the husband is abusing his wife emotionally, physically, or sexually. In these situations, there are cases in which separation can actually save a marriage.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" November 14th, 2012
Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder
Get in, Sit down, Shut Up and Hang On!
License plate frame, California
It was Christmas Day when I realized our honeymoon was over. I hated our new apartment, I didn’t know a soul, and I commuted to work an hour and a half each way through Los Angeles traffic. This place was very different from the small town of Chico where I grew up. On top of that, we had no money, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree we bought for eight bucks at a hardware store, and one gift from my grandparents. Brent was learning his new job in a difficult part of LA, and he worked swing shift on Christmas Eve. Me? Except for the manager’s kids who came by to sing carols at my door, I spent it alone. Earlier in December Brent graduated from the California Highway Patrol Academy, which was then and remains a residential training academy. We were given a week to move downstate and get settled before he reported for duty as a rookie officer in LA. Our six month marriage was already experiencing a tough season.
We went from five months of weekend-only bliss to shift work and mandatory overtime. We left a small town of supportive family and friends to join a sea of unfamiliar faces and places. Our rent went up significantly, gas became a greater burden, and I had to work full time to make ends meet. We didn’t know anyone except other new officers in the same boat. This was hard to handle all at once. But something else bothered me: Brent seemed to be changing, and not for the better. Working on the streets of LA was affecting him.
Brent had been a pre-med student and a church intern when I met him. He was tender and idealistic, but after he became a cop, he turned tough and painfully realistic. He saw some really disturbing things and couldn’t share everything with me. His sweet demeanor was disappearing, and I didn’t know what to do. Suspecting I wasn’t alone, I gingerly approached another newlywed wife whose husband graduated with Brent.
“Have you noticed a change in Bill lately?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she replied.
“Well, it’s hard to explain. Brent has kind of an edginess now that I haven’t seen before. Some language too. He seems frustrated and angry. Has Bill acted like this?”
She looked at me like I was purple and promptly shook her head. I walked away, sorry I ever mentioned it. Well, that was helpful, I thought to myself, embarrassed I’d made something out of nothing. Three weeks later I was stunned to learn this same gal returned to her mother’s home and filed for divorce. Obviously something was wrong, and she chose to shut up and get out. I wasn’t giving in so easily. I decided at that moment that I would hold on tight to my man and find help.
But help was hard to find. It seemed everyone was tight-lipped about their relationships. And many of Brent’s friends on the patrol were single. So I had to figure it out for myself. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Suddenly I was married to someone different, and it wasn’t what I had envisioned. But the one thing that carried me through this early season was the fact that I’d made a promise to Brent in front of God and everyone that I’d stay with him until “death do us part.” I had to make it work.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" November 5th, 2012
Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder