The Hero at Home
Because this book covers different aspects of law enforcement marriage, it probably seems like my entire existence revolves around the fact that he is a cop. It doesn’t. There are areas of our lives that have nothing whatsoever to do with law enforcement. This is a big question for new officers’ wives. “I have my own job; do I have to drop everything for this to work?” The answer is no. Life is life. Kids. Careers. Hobbies. Church. Clubs. Sports. There is more to life than law enforcement.
Erica doesn’t view her husband as a hero when he walks in the door. He’s Marlo, the father of her children, the man she married, and the one who takes out the trash. So when he comes home, she expects him to jump into their lives. I love this. Erica has two boys and a job. She basically runs the home and likens it to a revolving machine. When Marlo comes home from his shift, she expects him to join their lives that are already in motion. Because she has communicated this, it works!
What you don’t know about Erica is she had to face that horrible moment that we all fear: “Honey, I need you to come the hospital. I’ve just been shot!” Marlo called her from his stretcher on the side of the freeway. After this critical incident, she had to make things click in her mind. This was when she adopted this attitude: Marlo is the man she married. He’s not Marlo the hero; he’s Marlo the husband. He’s Marlo the dad. In fact, she’s only seen Officer Marlo a few times.
This mindset may be more difficult for other men. When they are on duty, they have to take control in the midst of chaos. Your man has been trained to be in control of situations and will be direct and to the point. He doesn’t do multiple choice on duty. What happens when he comes home, still in this attitude of control?
My guess is it doesn’t go over well. I know this might be pretty tempting for cops to do, but it doesn’t exactly pan out at home. We’ve been running things all day, and it’s a little difficult to relinquish that position. We’ve got our tried and true ways of making it work, and then he comes in and does it differently! Again, this is where respectful communication comes in. He needs to be a part of the home too, so don’t hold on so tightly to your methods. On the other hand, you are not one of his customers, and he doesn’t want you to be.
The other side of the spectrum is that they are tired of making decisions and/or babysitting crooks all day, and they don’t want to take the reins at home at all. Recall the down stage of the hypervigilance roller coaster. It takes some good talks and patience to work through this.
The Long-term Perspective
I’ve mentioned several things that you see on a day to day basis—the short term. But there is a long-term perspective as well. In a career that spans twenty to thirty years, these issues will ebb and flow with the seasons. Supervisors and commanders come and go, and, depending on their leadership skills or lack thereof, your husband’s career will benefit or suffer.
There have been seasons that Brent couldn’t wait to get to work. And there were times when his stress was so elevated his blood pressure would reflect it. The point here is that seasons come and go. Enjoy the good times and embrace the rough spots for the character building they can instill. Either way, sometimes it just helps to know that it won’t be forever.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" April 1st, 2013
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