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How To Love Your Cop
How To Love Your Cop

Hello, My Name is Victoria

My daughter and I were watching TV together the other night. She asked me a question about the show, and I started to tear up. She gave me that teenage-are-you-really-getting-emotional-about-HGTV-Mom?-look. It’s a smirk – and from time to time I have to bare my soul and explain my thought process for things I do that they don’t understand. The kids have their chuckle, and then it’s usually, “Oh, OK, Mom, I get it now.”

I have something to confess. I REALLY like Nicole Curtis (DIY’s Rehab Addict). It’s not that she’s a little blonde bad-ass who loves power tools and runs marathons. It’s not that she’s stubborn with her vision, or that she sports a midwestern accent, or that she lives in MinneSOta. Although I like all that, too.

It’s that Nicole Curtis looks at old homes that others have deemed as doomed and is willing to put in the work to make them pretty again.

She braves old basements and salvages what she finds, then pours new foundations. She is sure to comment that working with a shovel is a great core workout.

She opens up walls to expose old brick, cleaning it up with a wire brush, and patching holes in the mortar. She designs the rooms around the brick, using it as a focal point. It’s beautiful.

She pulls up linoleum and exposes hardwood flooring, meticulously refinishing and repairing the old wood. This is the true timeless beauty of the home.

She appreciates the splendor of old things, restoring them to let them shine in their craftsmanship, and adding both old and new to give a home the best of both.

This is why I like Nicole Curtis.

So, why did I go emo on the show in front of my daughter?

Because Nicole restored a home that was damaged by arson. Crime came to a street in Detroit – her home town – and burnt it to the ground. But the fire spread to the house next door as well. And when the damage was left to become a dump site, the whole street began boarding up old homes and abandoning them.

Damaged. Devalued. Decomposing.

Ugly.

Much like the American tendency to do in our own homes. When the fires of conflict torch a home, and the damage is done, many choose to just scrap it all and walk away. But it isn’t just the lone couple that suffers. There is lasting damage that breeds more destruction to those in close proximity.

But when there is reconciliation, when a couple decides to salvage their marriage, patiently doing the work to look at both the good and the bad in their relationship, and purpose to restore it, there is something amazing that happens. There is a quality and beauty there, and a mature character that something (or someone) new just can’t measure up to.

On the show, the community came out to see what Nicole was doing. They watched intently as the heavy equipment swept away the demolished home next door. They helped clean up the yard. They helped brush away the charred remains of the fire damage. They got behind her and caught her vision. And then, in the middle of the day, kids came out to play, a go cart was put into action, and…

There was joy and life again on a street that had once brought so many tears.

Whether we’ve been married three years, twelve years, or 25 years, our marriages could use a little TLC – sprucing up what’s in good condition, getting rid of excess, and a few new changes. In my world, that’s worth shedding a few tears for.

Every January I choose a word to be my theme for the year. My word for 2014 is RESTORE. Chief and I are doing some things in our home this year, physically and relationally, to renovate, update, and restore.

I look forward to the journey.

I think our teenagers are looking forward to it as well.

January 9th, 2014

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Chp 10: Little Future Cops-Gun Safety

When our oldest son was little, we got a kick out the way he tied his cuddle blanket around his neck, made guns out of whatever was around, and ran off to fight the bad guys. When Brent’s leather holders for badges and guns were retired, our son appointed himself heir to them. Then as he got older, it was Nerf guns and laser tag. At times our home was converted into a war zone, with the screens taken out of the windows, the lights out, and sweaty boys hiding, shooting foam darts at each other, and leaping in and out of the house through the windows—serious fun. Finally he progressed to Air Soft guns and paintball as a teenager. He and his buddies found empty fields with lots of bushes, trees, and ditches and got down and dirty, strategizing all the way. I think he even borrowed some of Brent’s old Kevlar panels and eye gear to protect himself from welts.

As you can see, we have a relaxed view of guns in our family. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take gun safety seriously. When Brent brings his duty weapon home, he keeps it secure and teaches the kids about how the gun works and the correct way to handle it. He also cleans his weapon at work. There is an attitude of respect, not making a big deal out of it, but rather stressing the importance of keeping it pointed away from everyone even when it is unable to fire. The kids know that they are never to handle it by themselves and under no circumstances with another child. This would never happen anyway; Brent keeps his gun with him and will leave it in his locker at work more often than not.

If your home has other weapons, though, it is imperative that you get a safe that is childproof. We all know of a tragic story or two where accidents have happened. Kids can be unpredictable even when we train them. Talk with your kids about guns at friends’ homes as well or if someone brings a weapon to school. They may respect your rules at home, but their curiosity may get the best of them somewhere else. We also use news of gun accidents to remind them of what to do in these situations.

Guns aren’t the only thing we need to think about. Kids also need to understand that they don’t want to get into the pepper spray, Taser gun, or the handcuffs. One afternoon Brent laid his gun belt on the bed right beside me, and our youngest son asked to see the handcuffs. Brent got them out and gave them to him. But before we could say anything, he put them on himself and started laughing. Until he realized that Brent’s handcuff keys were at the office, forty minutes away! It took some rummaging through the junk drawers and a call to a cop neighbor before we finally found an extra key. Our son doesn’t go near the handcuffs anymore. Sometimes natural consequences cure whatever foolishness our kids dish up.

October 27th, 2013

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Chp 9: Silver Bullets-Money & Your Marriage-How to talk

Money Talks

Ted and Sarah have difficulty talking about money, as it is a constant source of conflict. Ted gets frustrated that he works hard to bring in the money and they never seem to get ahead. Sarah naturally avoids conflict, so she inadvertently sabotages their efforts by not communicating with Ted about upcoming bills. This of course angers Ted and adds late charges to an already tight budget.

Even though money seems like it should be handled without emotion, it isn’t. So much of who we are is wrapped up in our money! For men the traditional role as provider says a lot about who they are as a man. The expectations have been built up into status. If you make a lot of money, you are a success. If you don’t, not so much!

For women, we tend to view money as security. If we have money, we don’t have to worry about where to live, what we wear, and what we eat. If we are short on money, we tend to worry.

Rich and Anna didn’t have a large income, but they made it work. However, Rich felt that because he worked hard he deserved a nice truck. He spent a lot of money on his trucks while Anna scrimped and saved and did odd jobs to feed and clothe the kids. Over the years Anna and Rich had many arguments, and eventually Anna took over the management of the money. She didn’t give Rich much to spend, so when Rich got an overtime check, he’d cash it and spend it without telling her.

How you handle money can build trust or be a source of mistrust. Typically, every couple has a spender and a saver. And unless the two have agreed upon goals and budgets, the constant push and pull of the money can be destructive to a marriage. The solution lies in acknowledging our shortcomings and for both to be involved in money management. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions and then answer honestly:
• Are we both committed to improving this area?
• Who is the saver, who is the spender?
• What are our individual responsibilities?
• What do we both want from our money?
• Where can we cut our spending to invest in our future?
• When do we waver in our control of spending?
• How did we get ourselves into the debt we have? How will we get out?
• Are we a slave to our home, striving to make the payments?
• Is our money working for us, or against us?
• How deep are we willing to cut luxuries to ease financial stress?

Have a regular business meeting with your husband to get on top of things. When we are proactive about communicating, especially when it comes to money, it will have an accumulating effect much like the emotional bank account. For the one who does most of the money business, it’ll really help him/you feel a lighter burden.

To keep our money life intact, we need some guiding principles. Then we need a plan based on those principles. I’ve included some financial guidelines that Brent and I have learned and tried to practice over the years.

September 16th, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens – How do you spell relief

How Do You Spell Relief?

Whether the issues that you face in your marriage are a result of his job or relational differences or other outside pressures, there is a likelihood that at some point you will want to give up. Even the best marriages have occasional long winter seasons, and we are human.

For sixteen months, Brent lived out of town during the week while he commanded another area. Then he transferred to a local position but took on the most challenging job of his life. I saw him more, but for the first few months he came home and promptly fell asleep on the couch. His job took more and more of his energy, concentration, and time. Then personal hard times hit. It was very difficult. After many months of seemingly impossible demands at work and at home, I saw a change in his behavior. He became withdrawn, angry, forgetful, and, at times, almost victim-like. This wasn’t like him. For awhile, I was concerned for him. But then I became more concerned about me.

“How long will this last?” led to “I don’t want to be treated like this,” which led to “I don’t deserve this.” That led to “I don’t have to take this anymore!”

I started detaching myself, entertaining thoughts of escape. It became a big temptation that consumed several days a week. I stopped fighting for us in my mind. I was letting go, giving up. With each squabble and each let-down, I found myself drifting farther and farther away and hurting more and more.

It was the first time in our marriage that I considered leaving. It was a very strong temptation. Frankly I just wanted out. I needed relief.

We took a vacation to the beach in southern California, and I wondered how to tell him where I was. We bumped along through the week, and I felt so distant. He was in the same room, but I felt we’d grown miles apart. One day we took a trip to the zoo with the kids. As we got into the car, we had an argument, and that was the final straw. All the way home it was over for me. I’d had enough. I didn’t want this anymore.

After dinner I went for a walk on the beach to clear my head. As I walked toward the ocean, I noticed a really cool sandcastle that someone had built that day. It was fortified with thick little towers around it and stones and a moat. Someone spent a lot of time building it.

The tide was coming in. A wave lapped at the fortress that surrounded it, and suddenly I was riveted. For the next hour, I watched as wave after wave washed bits of the castle away. The fortress was the first to go. Then the waves methodically carved a hole in the back side of the castle I couldn’t see. Suddenly the top fell off, and the waves washed it away within minutes. Then a large wave swept up, and the rest of the castle split in half. My chest tightened, and I caught a sob. My eyes filled with tears as I realized that, to me, it was not a sandcastle disappearing but my own home.

I heard a whisper: “Are you gonna do this to your family?”

I wept as the tide completely wiped the sandcastle away, leaving only the stones that garnished the fortress. It was as if it had never existed. And I heard that still, small, but firm voice ask me again, “Are you going to do this to Brent? To your kids? Everything you’ve built will be for nothing. And for what?”

I looked up at the blurred stars through my tear-filled eyes. “No,” I decided, “No, I cannot do this. No! I will not leave.”

I listened to the waves crashing on the shore and gained a little strength.

“No, I will not do this to my husband. I will not destroy my family.”

The hurt still burned in my heart. But I decided to stay. And then I decided to recommit myself to loving my husband no matter what he was going through.

After that night I had to re-train my mind to think positively about Brent and our relationship. It took a couple weeks, but then I realized that he was hurting too. He was burnt out. He was empty, weary, and he needed me! So I reached out with a new attitude and started actively loving him again even though not much changed on his end at first. I loved him first out of compassion but then with fervency.

Then things began to change. He relaxed. Work seemed to ease up. We started laughing together. Twenty days after the sandcastle moment, he presented me with a beautiful little song that he had heard and thought it could be ours. This meant so much to me! It seemed that once I decided to stay, my recommitment encouraged him and lifted him out of the place he was in.

Think We, Not Me

As I look back, I realize that I let myself get really self-focused. It became more about me than we. And when times are tough, this is a recipe for failure.

That night on the beach reminded me of something else. After the sandcastle disappeared, I looked to my right and saw some large rocks that some condominiums were built upon. I realized that Brent and I had built our relationship on a strong foundation of trust, mutual respect, and unconditional love. We were undergoing some strong storms of life and had been pelted and worn down. But because our foundation was strong, we would not fail. Our life together would not disappear like a castle built on sand; it would stand the test of time.

August 21st, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens: Suicide

Fifteen Is Enough!

A few years back, Brent and I were getting ready for bed at the end of the day when he checked his Blackberry one last time. Another suicide. It was number fifteen for our department in a period of four years. I cried out, “Another one?! What are we doing?!” I didn’t know it at the time, but it was quite a prophetic question. I was referring to the department—how will they respond? But actually the more I asked the question, I realized that I might be able to do something as well.

I don’t know what it was about the number fifteen, but it seemed like everyone jumped into action. Number fifteen pushed the panic button, and we awoke. The department began talking about suicide openly. Our officers’ association published a double-page ad in their monthly newsletter: “Call for Backup,” with a picture of a glass of alcohol and a gun. We implemented awareness seminars across the state and set up debriefing sessions with those who knew the suicide victims. We educated ourselves. We decided as a department to hit suicide head on, deal with it as the reality it was, not a deniable secret hovering in the shadows.

In my own research, I learned that almost always the one who commits suicide just ended a significant relationship. When a life is going sideways, others are affected in a big way. Helplessness, blame, an inability to get a handle on problems, and depression (among other things) will push away those who are close. When things are falling apart, and hope seems to have been lost, the natural tendency is to get out quickly. The boat is sinking, and our survival instincts say, “Abandon ship!” Sometimes this is one more reason for those contemplating suicide.

This book is part of my own action against suicide. I care about the mental and emotional health of my husband and those he works alongside. If by sharing my own struggles I can encourage other wives to hang tough through the hard stuff, maybe suicide won’t be such an attractive option to their officers. If educating law enforcement spouses about these realities equips them to deal positively with the negatives, then perhaps marriages will be saved. If our officers know they have backup at home, perhaps they will be more courageous to get the help they need.

Symptoms of Suicide

So how can we discern if our spouse is contemplating suicide? By watching and listening for the symptoms. Sometimes there are signs of PTSD, whether from one specific incident, or a collection of events over time. If they don’t deal with the trauma, they risk depression, which can be a precursor to suicide. If your officer is having trouble reconciling these thoughts, he may be at risk. According to several articles on police suicide, a typical profile of a suicide candidate is a white male, 35 years of age, separated or divorced, using alcohol or drugs, and having recently experienced a loss or disappointment. They may have made out a recent will, bought a weapon, or appear to be getting their affairs in order. There is generally a significant mood change—either better or worse. They may exhibit signs of anxiety, frustration, or confusion.

I once heard suicide referred to as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But in the midst of it, the problem seems permanent. Sometimes it takes another level head to discern what is going on in the big picture. This is where you come in. Learn to recognize the symptoms. If your officer seems like he’s at risk, don’t abandon him or ignore the symptoms. Fight for him! Find help immediately.

July 29th, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens – Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drug dependence are coping mechanisms. Something is up, and they have developed a crutch to lean on. Here are some symptoms of a drinking problem, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. You have tried to stop drinking for a set amount of time and couldn’t go the distance.
2. You want people to quit telling you to quit drinking.
3. You switched from one kind of alcohol to another to avoid getting drunk.
4. You need a drink to get started on the day or to stop shaking.
5. You envy people who don’t get themselves into trouble while drinking.
6.You’ve had problems related to your drinking in the past year.
7. Your drinking is causing problems at home.
8. You try to get extra drinks at a party because what is served is not enough.
9. You tell yourself you could stop drinking any time you wanted to but keep getting drunk without meaning to.
10. You’ve missed work or school because of your drinking.
11. You have black outs, times when drinking that you don’t remember.
12. You feel like your life would be better if you didn’t drink.

If you suspect that your guy has a drinking problem, talk with him about it when he isn’t drinking. Be ready with specific examples of behavior, not generalized accusations. If he denies it, get others involved who love your husband. Have your resources lined up—phone numbers, locations of meetings and support groups, and people to contact.

PTSD

Brenda’s husband had nightmares and suffered uncontrollable shaking. Rhonda’s husband told her he was sure he was crazy and even acted like it sometimes. Mary’s husband retreated to the fetal position on the couch and whimpered like a baby then later left her for someone else. All of these men were diagnosed with PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that results from a critical incident or develops as a result of repeated exposure to trauma, both very frequent in the career of a police officer. In his book CopShock, Second Edition: Surviving Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Allen Kates says that “one in three cops may suffer from PTSD, a condition that could lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, addictions, eating disorders as well as job and family conflict.” Some of the common symptoms include anger, nightmares, flashbacks, concentration problems, emotional detachment, and avoidance of people and places.

The Power of a Good Marriage

It was a perfect day for Clarke and Tracie to chill out in the pool. But Clarke felt like he would sink beneath the weight of dread. He was struggling with the stuff he’d seen on duty. He wasn’t thinking he’d kill himself, but knew he was starting to head down that road, and he needed help. He’d inwardly argued with himself for quite a while before he took the plunge. “This stuff is gettin’ to me, Trace. I’m not okay.” As soon as it left his mouth, the weight lifted. Until she replied in horror, “Are you kidding me?!” It was not the response he was looking for.

On the outside, Clarke was supercop. On the inside, a teen’s suicide triggered a breaking point. “It was one of five suicides that day, and it was my boiling point,” explains Clarke. “Everything began haunting me. Everything came out—calls from the day before, the week before, the year before, ten years before. They all came back and they came back with a vengeance. Everything I thought I had dealt with, but really just disassociated from, came back.”

He’d told himself to get over it, forget it. But when he couldn’t, he decided he was a coward—a loser. But he did have a great relationship with his wife, and he trusted her enough to share his pain. And although initially her response was less than ideal, by the end of the day she understood that he did the most courageous thing he could’ve ever done—ask for help. After doing some research together, they found the assistance he needed.

Clarke and Tracie are now hosting police suicide prevention seminars across the country. As part of his healing, Clarke made a movie called “The Pain Behind the Badge,” and it’s speaking to officers who have suffered silently for years. When Tracie gets up to speak, she imparts these powerful words: “Why did I ever think he was okay after twenty-two years on the job? The Rock of Gibraltar was crumbling, and I never saw it coming. I’m lucky he’s alive.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be very serious, but there is help available. Please let me know if you need resources.

July 22nd, 2013

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Chp 7: Your Support System-But Girls are Mean

You need a support system, but can you trust women?

I ran into an acquaintance recently who I hadn’t seen in a while. We quickly caught each other up on our families, and she mentioned that her nine-year-old daughter was giving her fits. I nodded, knowingly. “That’s when their hormones start up,” I shared. “I bet she’s also experiencing drama with other girls at school, isn’t she?” She looked at me like I was psychic. I went on to recall stories of my girls when they turned that magic number nine. It was a hurtful time; girls were so mean!

Sometimes interacting with other women is scary. We’ve all been there at some time or another—some girl is creating drama, and suddenly connection isn’t such a hot idea. The good news is as we mature, there are fewer of us who take part in this kind of stuff. But definitely not all. That’s why I say, “Proceed with caution!” If you find yourself connecting with a woman who is gossiping, run—don’t walk—to the nearest exit. Even if she’s talking trash about someone you don’t like, chances are she’ll eventually talk trash about you too.

Rules of Engagement

Over the years I have worked with, served, taught, mentored, spoke to, and counseled hundreds of women of all backgrounds. I’ve learned through trial and error how to be a friend and observed those that do friendship well. I’ve come up with some general rules of engagement that will help you pick some good friends and be a good friend in return.

The Number-One Golden Rule

I’ll start with the most basic. We learned this in school or from our moms early on, but it represents a very good boundary for our behavior! The golden rule is to do to others what you would have them do to you. If you want someone to keep your secrets, keep hers. If kindness is important to you, then be kind. If you would like some practical help here and there, then offer and follow through with practical help. Fill in the blanks from there.

Keep this in mind as you converse with others. As women, we have a tendency to talk too much. Oh, the words we say, every day, in lots of ways! But we all have two ears and one mouth. Listening is twice as important as talking. Ooh, this is a good reminder for me! I have so many stories, and I like to tell those stories to make connections to this and that—show others how much we have in common! But I like to be listened to, so I have had to teach myself to shut my mouth and listen to others.

Rule Number Two: What’s the Back Story?

Novelists are always on the lookout for creative ways to bring in the back story. This is the prelude to what you’re reading in the book, the reasons or the road to how the character got where they are physically and emotionally in the story. The same goes for real people; there’s always a back story.

I have learned to never make assumptions based on first impressions. Some women are shy. Some women want to be friends, but want to first observe if you’re trustworthy or not. When I speak, it’s often the women who don’t make eye contact with me during my talk that approach me afterwards to ask questions.

You’d be surprised how many women are carrying burdens that come across as indifference to others. Those who come across as confident, engaged women can  actually be harboring feelings of self-doubt just beneath the surface.

Things aren’t always as they appear. We don’t always have the facts. That fabulously dressed brunette sitting by herself with a don’t-approach-me look has a story. She probably isn’t stuck up. She probably doesn’t think she’s better than you. She might be shy. Or she was abused as a child. Or she and her husband had an argument on the way there. Or she has ten dollars in her bank account and no groceries in the fridge. You never know what is behind the blank stare or the up front attitude. But it might be worth it to try to find out the back story. It just might be very similar to your own.

June 17th, 2013

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Chp 6: Short vs. Long Term Thinking-The Whole You

I’ve talked about motivation, foundations, problems, and trust. These are some deep parts of yourself you may never have thought about in this context. But I come back to them because it is so important to know who you are. When we know who we are, then we are much better equipped to deal with whatever life hands us. We know what will work and what won’t. It’s much better than going through life just guessing.

When Brent went into the academy to become a highway patrolman, I went through my own transformation at home (the CHP Academy is a six-month live-in arrangement with most weekends off). I had to stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life. I had a home to run, a job to perform, and on the weekends a husband to encourage and support. Back in the day before e-mail and cell phones, I had no way to get in touch with him during the week. I had to rely on his ability to use the one phone on campus while completing rigorous eighteen-hour days. He didn’t call much, and I missed him terribly.

It was during this time that I discovered that my husband would not meet all of my needs. Fulfillment could not be found in him alone, nor could he secure my insecurities. This was hard to accept; I came into our marriage with an expectation that he would do all that. I did some soul-searching, found a mentor, and grew up a little. It was a good thing too because that toughened me up for our first assignment in Los Angeles.

The best approach to our relationship with our husbands is as whole people. They can meet some of our needs but not all. Spending some time answering the motivation and foundation questions is a good start. But we cannot do this alone. We must have a support system.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. When you are eighty years old, what do you want your life to look like as you take inventory of the years you invested?

2. Do you struggle with fear and/or worry? If yes, what is something you’re willing to try to combat it? If not, why not?

3. Do you tend to live with short-term thinking or long-term thinking?

June 3rd, 2013

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Chp 6: Short v. Long Term Thinking

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Thinking

Pursuing happiness is short-term thinking. It concentrates on right now. Right now I’d be very happy if I had a big piece of German chocolate cake. And then after I eat that very large piece of German chocolate cake, I’d be happy if I had just a little more. So I’ll eat another half piece. Fifteen minutes later, I’ll be miserable because my stomach hurts. And then in the morning when my jeans are too tight, the guilt sets in. Long-term thinking is different. This mindset understands that passing on that dessert means better-fitting jeans, and that is the avenue to self-respect and good health. It is making a decision to pass on something that will make me happy temporarily to obtain something much more satisfying in the long run. Long-term thinking is realizing that when I am happy, I celebrate it because there will be seasons that I will not be happy. And yet I’m okay with it.

Long-term thinking in our marriages requires looking at the goal: to still have a thriving marriage at the end of our lives. Actively pursuing a satisfying, contented marriage means investing in your relationship over the years in happy and not-so-happy times.

Long-term thinking doesn’t blow things out of proportion when you have a spat this week after connecting on a deep level last week. Relationships ebb and flow, and short-term thinking will create drama. “You never…” is the accusation when, in actuality, he does at times just not enough for you or not enough at the moment. Drama gets tiresome when it pops up again and again. It takes out large withdrawals from your marital bank account. In contrast, long-term thinking relaxes a bit and doesn’t panic. Long-term thinking stops taking cues from whatever doesn’t feel right at the moment and tries to understand the big picture.

Put Fear in Its Place

The most common thing cops’ wives hear from non-cops are questions about how we deal with fear. It’s the first thing thought about once a loved one decides law enforcement is the career they want to do, and it’s the most obvious. Those on the outside looking in assume that we worry all the time and the circumstances dictate to what degree. When Brent promoted to lieutenant and was relegated to a desk, our non-cop friends figured that I wouldn’t worry as much because he was out of the danger zone. They were surprised to hear that I didn’t worry as a lifestyle, that I had dealt with my fear long ago.

The first time I felt fear about my husband’s job was about nine months in. He came home one morning and told me how he and his partner came upon a gang fight in a bad part of Los Angeles. Being the eager rookies they were, they stopped, called for back up, pulled their guns, and yelled freeze. And those who were fighting did freeze, unbelievably enough. All except for one, who took off running. At that point Brent’s partner gave chase, leaving Brent alone with twenty armed gang members, having only a six-bullet revolver and a shotgun. It was at that point he realized that the situation could go really bad. He was outnumbered in people and in weapons. They could’ve turned on him in a heartbeat, … but they didn’t.

It seemed like forever, but soon he heard the cavalry coming; others arrived, black and whites screeching in from all directions. Gang members were sorted out, handcuffed, and taken to jail. Brent’s partner came back too with the fleeing suspect in custody. Turns out one of the bad guys was wanted for rape. It all turned out well, but the fear factor was definitely there.

Brent laughed about it—and at first, so did I. But it scared me. I started counting down the “what ifs,” and fear crept in with them. Honey, we’re not in Chico anymore! He’s fighting real gangs with real guns. The danger was near, and it was very real.

May 6th, 2013

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Chp 6: Thick Skin, Soft Heart: How To Deal Emotionally

I don’t wear the badge on a uniform. But when you’re married to an officer, you wear the shadow of their badge on your heart.

Pat, wife of a CHP officer who was injured on-duty

Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust survivor

In 2006, one of our officers responded to an accident that involved a disturbed young man. One thing led to another, and a fight ensued as the man tried to steal the officer’s gun. A sheriff’s deputy joined in, as did a paramedic who was on the scene. The subject was overpowered, and he went to jail. This kind of thing happens often, but this time a reporter with a camera just happened to stop and snap several pictures of the entire incident. The photos made their way to a variety of places, and Code 3 Magazine picked them up and published them.

In response, they received an emotional letter from a wife of a police officer with three small children. She wrote that she was shocked to see such graphic pictures and didn’t wish to receive the magazine anymore. In the next issue, there were several responses to her letter.  Here are two excerpts:

…[B]elieve in your husband… and support him with all your heart. It is for you, your children and the world they live in that he serves as a peace officer. You are and need to be a part of that. A loved one’s support and faith is often the secret weapon that a peace officer will use to survive a critical incident. Hiding from reality will not work.

 Deputy sheriff married to a highway patrolman[i]

Being an officer’s spouse is not for the faint of heart. It takes strength, will and an understanding for the love of the job that officers feel and commit themselves to… I hope she can come to terms with that which she is now married to. If not, her constant fear will destroy both her and her marriage…

Former officer and wife of police officer

Fear had taken its toll on this young mother, and it seemed that she responded with avoidance and anger. It’s a natural instinct but one that could be destructive to her and her family. So, what’s a girl to do?

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Worry and fear are chronic when the ground you stand on isn’t firm enough to steady you. Every house is built upon a foundation, and the house will only be as sound as the materials it’s built upon. If your personal foundation is built upon things like truth, morality, goodness, and a love for others, chances are you’re standing on something solid that will withstand the storms life brings you. But if you are standing on ignorance, selfishness, fear of what could happen at any moment, or are led primarily by your senses (touch, sight, taste, etc.), your life will eventually falter on these shifting sands.

What is it that you stand on as an individual? What are your goals for your life? What drives you? When you are eighty years old, what do you want your life to look like as you take inventory of the years you invested? The answers to these questions will determine your success in life as a person, a wife, and a mother and levels of satisfaction or regret at the end of your life. It will also determine your emotional stability in the face of what your husband’s career hands you.

Most women that I talk to want to be happy. That’s what life is all about, right? We don’t want trouble, we don’t want pain. We want to feel good inside and out, have fun, live positive lives with positive thinking. It’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately, if we are actively pursuing happiness, we are headed for disappointment, maybe even sorrow. Let me tell you why. Happiness is subjective. Happiness is elusive. And the definition of happiness is ever changing, depending on what it is that we chase to fill that happy place.

My youngest son recently wanted a Wii so bad he could taste it. He researched it on the web. He saved his money for months. Whenever we went shopping, he asked to swing by the electronics section just to see if they had them in stock. His pursuit of happiness was wrapped up in buying that Wii. Finally the day came when he received his Wii in the mail. For the next few weeks, he played Wii for hours. And, yes, he was so happy! But after a couple months, I noticed he was researching something else on the computer—catcher’s gear. Here we go again!

Happiness is short lived. There will be times in your marriage that you will not be happy. There will be seasons that will take you down some dark paths. If your underlying pursuit is to be happy, you may want out in these seasons. Why? Because chasing a feeling that comes and goes will be a constant source of disappointment. And in that emotional instability, you will inadvertently undermine your own marriage.



[i]     Correspondence, Code 3 Magazine, (Spring 2007).

May 2nd, 2013

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