Last week’s blog has some tips on helping you have a support system with other police wives. Here are some more rules of engagement for you.
Rule Number Three: They Are One, Not Two
Rose’s husband is a deputy with a nearby county sheriff’s department. She was recounting to me how the office had experienced severe drama in the last several months, and it was wearing on her even though she wasn’t directly involved. There were two people having an affair at the office—an officer who was married and the wife of another deputy. Everyone knew except the spouses, and they were all trying to keep it a secret while gossiping about it. What a mess.
You will socialize with other attractive men in uniforms throughout your husband’s career. Chances are your friends’ husbands are nice to look at too. But if we are to conduct ourselves in a way that makes us safe friends, we must establish boundaries with other men.
I have developed a defense mechanism against letting handsome men get into my thoughts. When I see a married man who is attractive, I make sure to meet his wife. Then I look at them as one entity, not two. When I see Robert, I see Sue. When I see Scott, I see Lisa. This has worked for me; it keeps my mind in check. Looking at them as a couple keeps me from flirting and therefore doesn’t stir up bad vibes with my friends. The friendships keep me accountable. I don’t even go there, and others sense that I’m trustworthy.
I also have to mention the way we dress. Women are beautiful. And how we clothe ourselves makes a big statement to others about who we are and what we value. Dressing to attract (very short skirts, low-cut tops, ultra tight pants) may get the attention of men, but it screams to other women that they can’t trust her. She’s unsafe, threatening. Dressing nicely but appropriately helps other women trust you as a friend.
Rule Number Four: Loose Lips Sink Ships!
Have you ever poured a bag of sugar into a canister and realized too late that it wasn’t big enough to hold the whole bag? There are sugar crystals everywhere! They’re on the counter, the floor, and your clothes. You can sweep for the next three days and still feel them on your shoes.
This is what happens when we don’t use discretion. Once your words are out of the bag, they can end up anywhere.
Within departments there are always politics. I can’t tell you how many times key people have tried to get me to talk about my views on things. They’ve tried to get information. I am learning to keep my opinions to myself because my views will be read as my husband’s views. And that could get him into hot water.
When you are socializing with people from the department, play out beforehand what you will disclose and not disclose. You don’t ever have to be rude unless someone gets out of line. Smile. But be careful about passing along information that could jeopardize the well being of your husband. Better yet, stay clear of controversial work topics and share about the other aspects of your lives.
Someone Older and Wiser
Renee’s husband, Joel, had been deployed to Iraq twice. When his time was up with the National Guard, he went to work for the sheriff’s department. Renee had struggled deeply with little kids in tow while he was in the Middle East. She felt very alone, and there wasn’t much support available. Those years were very hard. So when Joel came home and became a cop, she was glad that he was home, but there were still stresses with his job.
About that time she met a woman who was also a deputy wife. Cyndi was a little older, and her husband had been with the county for several years. She took a liking to Renee, and they soon found they had much in common. Soon this friendship blossomed into a mentoring relationship. Cyndi called Renee from time to time and asked her how she was faring. She’d answer questions and listened to Renee’s concerns. She gently guided Renee to keep on investing in her marriage and children and offered understanding and helpful ideas. Unlike the lonely deployment experience, she felt supported and strong.
I, too, have benefited from mentoring relationships. When I was younger, I sought out confident women that I respected and asked them to meet with me for guidance. The time was invaluable. I sat soaking in tried and true wisdom and remember much of what they said all these years later.
In recent years I have been able to pay it forward. I am now a mentor to several ladies and feel honored that younger women want to meet with me. I love listening and sharing wisdom and asking questions to get them to really think about the deep stuff.
If this kind of a friendship appeals to you, start looking for a seasoned woman from the office or another department. It helps if she is a law enforcement wife, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be so. Look for a wise, quiet yet confident woman who cares about you and your marriage. Then take the plunge and ask her to meet regularly.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" June 24th, 2013
Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder