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How To Love Your Cop
How To Love Your Cop

How to Start a Peer Group

I absolutely LOVE my new Peer Group. There are eleven of us wives from six different departments around the NorCal area. We’ve met twice now and the camaraderie is already there.

I’d like to see other groups like this – to experience the friendship with other LEOWs, and to really have that support. So I’ve come up with some ways to help those of you who want to start something but aren’t sure just how to do it.

Who?

As I was preparing to do this, I just started mentioning it to people. Those who were enthusiastic, I followed up with. Most of the girls moved their schedule around or got babysitters. We have eleven, but it doesn’t have to be that big. I also thought it important to have different departments – when it is just one department that all the ladies are from, it is a huge temptation to talk about the office politics, and that can ruin a group and/or diminish the departmental support of families. You can put an announcement out on Facebook, or ask your friends to invite someone else. Compiling a diverse group of ladies is half the fun!

When?

For my book, I scheduled 13 consecutive weeks. One week for introductions and twelve for the chapters. I put them on the calendar, and communicated this to the ladies I invited. They know that we are meeting every week at such and such a time, at such and such a place, until April 9.

How?

The first week we shared about our families, and then I had them find an object in their purse that describes them. That helps get answers from people you normally wouldn’t get, and we heard some cool perspectives about what people’s lives are about. We also talked about what we were hoping to “get” from the group. The second week we started in on the book. We read through a chapter a week together. The questions are in the back of each chapter. Easy!

Rules

The first meeting I talked about boundaries. This is IMPERATIVE. To create a safe place for women to share, there must be confidentiality. NO flapping of the gums about what people say. I also told them to keep it positive. We are not a rant and rave group – that’s not helpful for anyone. We also do not talk about department politics UNLESS it directly and personally affects your family and we can help support you. We also talked about the fact that we are all different and have different views. The rule is to approach each other with grace – so that all of us can be free to be who we are and still be loved.

Bonus

A few other things are group dates with our guys, ladies’ nites out, and a secret Facebook page. We exchanged numbers. We hold each others’ babies. We talked about doing a Dave Ramsey class together later on. So far, so good.

I’ve no doubt as we get into things that there will be disagreement. And we’re okay with that. But we agreed to stay within the boundaries of the rules, and are actually happy with them. As the leader, I will keep us accountable to it.

Lastly, as their leader, I’m praying for our time, and for their families. This is the unseen glue that keeps us together, I think. When a leader has “help” from God or an older mentor, someone to bounce off problems or ideas (keeping confidentiality intact, of course), that really enhances a group as well.

If you are interested in starting your own peer group in your area, please let me know so that I can pray/help you as well. We’re in this thing together!

January 27th, 2014

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Chp 10: Little Future Cops-Dads and their kids

Dads Need Their Kids

When Brent became a highway patrolman, I was the one who comforted him when he came home. But after we started having children, I noticed a little shift. It seemed to me that he was more excited to see them than me when he came home. I used to get a little jealous, but then I decided to grow up.

I’ve come to understand that my husband needs and feeds off of his kids. He needs their optimism. He needs their innocence. He sees in them that there is good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for. I know that may sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. He may not even realize it. But coming home and holding his baby girl or wrestling on the floor with his boys—my husband needs this. Chances are so does yours.

Almost every day, year after year, there has been a wrestling session at our home. It started when our oldest daughter could crawl. Brent tackled her—lovingly, of course—and she would laugh until her belly hurt. It’s continued through the years, and now we have to clear a large space, as the legs and arms are much longer, but the laughter still rings through the halls. I call it wrestle therapy, and Brent needs it just as much as the kids.

But I’ve always been the stick in the mud. I’m the one who’s moving the vase or scolding when it gets too rough. And they laugh at me and sometimes pull me in against my will. Usually it ends with my stomach aching because I can’t stop laughing. So, let them wrestle. Let them throw footballs (soft ones) in at least one room of the house. Let them cuddle past bedtime. It is good for our husbands’ souls, and it helps to balance out the harder parts of his job. The kids love it too.

 

On the Other Hand…

There are other seasons in a law enforcement career that aren’t so great for kids. Sometimes your husband will need some quiet, alone time. When he’s had a really bad day, he might not be able to handle the chaos that kids create. Several of my law enforcement friends have told me that they have had to take the kids somewhere else or send their husbands to the gym. Being quick to anger, irritable, or just in his own little world is a reality at some point. Unfortunately this can be really hurtful to the children who don’t understand.

That’s where we come in. Our husbands need a little space, exercise, time, or sleep to get back on track. We can create room for this, depending on our creativity and our attitudes. If we’re full of resentment, our kids will pick up on it and be resentful. If we are patient, our kids will try to be patient. If we give him a little room for moods, it won’t be so traumatic for the kids. Then, when he’s calmed down a bit, you and the kids can engage him in the family goings on.

It’s important to communicate to your kids, no matter what the age, what is going on. For little ones you can tell them that Daddy’s had a bad day, and he needs some time to deal with it. For older kids you can give a little more detail, as appropriate. But the attitude is support and love, not condemnation. We all have moods from time to time, and home is the best place to work through them, especially if we give each other the space to do it.

November 3rd, 2013

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Chp 10: Little Future Cops-Kid Communication

Kid Communication

Kendra’s six-year-old son knew Daddy went to work to arrest bad guys. Diedra and her husband sat their boys down at the ages of twelve and ten and had a heart to heart about what Dad’s job entailed. Betty’s eight- and nine-year-old kids watched their daddy on television during a standoff. I have been asked over and over, what are the guidelines for letting our kids know what their daddy does? How much information is okay and when?

As I’ve thought about this question, I’ve realized that there’s no right answer. It really depends on the relationship you have with your kids, what you think they can handle at what age. I don’t remember ever sitting our children down to have a heart to heart about Daddy’s job. If they had questions, we provided an age-appropriate response. We didn’t offer more than what we thought they could handle at the time but made sure we answered their questions truthfully. I don’t remember our kids ever fearing for their dad’s safety on duty. I think this is because Brent and I never made it a habit to worry about what could happen, and they took their cues from us.

I do know that our kids suffered disappointment when Brent wasn’t there for sports games, Fourth of July fireworks, and other things that came up here and there. Over the years he’s tried to make as many events as he can, but there were times he just couldn’t be there. But if there was something important that he couldn’t make it to, we always tried to make up for it later.

When Brent was commuting to the Bay Area during the week and home on weekends only, he had to miss many kid events. Our youngest daughter was in a program through our church in which she conquered challenges weekly and received promotions in return, using a medieval theme as the backdrop. They had really great ceremonies where the child would be honored for their accomplishment. But the ceremony was on a Wednesday night. She was really sad that Dad was gone. We told her that although he wouldn’t be able to be there, we would tape it so he could see it later. What we didn’t tell her was that Brent worked out his schedule and drove back that night, arriving just in time. The look on her face when she saw him was priceless. She burst into big, happy tears and ran to hug him really tightly.

With a little planning and creativity, we can redeem the events our husbands miss. As moms, we have to lower the expectations of our kids when the career calls. But when we take the time to make special efforts to make memories, it makes up for it. In fact, these are some of the best days of their lives.

October 20th, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens – How to Recover

Take Time to Recover

The third stage is to take time to recover. Try to get some time off and get away for a change of scenery. Build positive memories. Take a break from extra-curricular activities that create more busyness. Make sure your family gets rest. If your relationship is at a relational deficit, then start making deposits.

This is also a good time to set some new boundaries relating to the issue. Perhaps you both need to stop spending time with friends who drink heavily and find other avenues for friendship. Maybe you both need to set some boundaries with activities that aggravate issues. Follow the avenues of healthy support. You also have the unique position to help him get the nourishment he needs through healthy meals and exercise. In fact, eating right and exercising are essential for his (and your) healing.

What I’m suggesting here is for the both of you. His crisis affects you in a huge way. Things you go through affect him as well because your lives are intertwined. You both need time to recover and to heal. In some cases it could be a lengthy road. You’ll need this time to remain patient while the problems are resolved.

Being Strong When We Feel Weak

Years ago the mentor I met with while a newlywed was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Debbie was given six months to live but died in five. During that time I too was dealing with internal hurts that needed healing. It was really tough. A wise friend of mine encouraged me to watch for what I could learn during this time. “Find purpose in the pain,” she said. I’d never done that before, and in the midst of it all, it seemed impossible.

But it wasn’t. With the help and support of my husband, eventually I viewed the end of Debbie’s life as a new beginning for me. Debbie had imparted a bit of her heart into mine, and this I could hold on to. Incredibly, the final piece of my healing was put into place through a conversation at her funeral. And although I miss her even now, in a way I keep Debbie alive as I carry forward what she taught me.

When you are going through painful seasons of life, challenge yourself. Try to find purpose amidst the pain. What can you learn? What can you carry forward? How can you have victory over what seems like defeat?

When life is topsy-turvy, we need to be held up by our foundations and support system (see chapters six and seven). There may be a tendency to withdraw when things are tough, but it is when we need others all the more. A timely phone call or a meal provided is very uplifting. You never know what kindnesses others will offer when you are in crisis.

As a person of faith, I turn to God for comfort. He has been my refuge and strength in the midst of some very hard times.

The last bit of help may just come from your own attitude. It may sound strange, but when you are going through tough times, be thankful. Sometimes you might have to start with being thankful your situation isn’t worse than it is! It may seem like your life is in shambles, but there is always something small (or large) to be thankful for. You will be surprised how being grateful will lift your spirits!

August 14th, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens – How to Handle His Crisis

How to Deal with His Crisis

Whatever crises our husbands undergo, they need us, and they need us to be strong. Depending on the circumstances, we could be the ones who are there for him to talk out some of the emotion. But when it’s too big for us, we can come alongside and love them enough to get them the help they need. Whatever they are dealing with, they need to know they aren’t alone.

Our husbands, however, may not want to be “fixed.” It’s their deal, and they want to work it out. In this situation, perhaps they don’t understand the effects on us and our children. Maybe ego is a factor. Maybe they have adopted a cultural view that police officers are supposed to be tough and not show weakness. Sometimes they need space to work out the answer rather than depending on us too much.

Depending on your husband’s department, there may be a stigma against bringing up stress. In some cases, doing so may jeopardize their career. For many years, the culture of law enforcement has been to ignore responses to trauma. These responses have been labeled as weakness. Fortunately, the thinking within law enforcement circles is gradually changing into thinking that trauma is a natural response to the unnatural incidents that our cops experience. While this new way of thinking is slowly making its way throughout the country, it isn’t yet universal. If this is the case for your husband, he’ll need a safe listener, and it may need to be you.

There are three stages of dealing with his crisis. First, identify the problem beneath the symptoms. Seek the cause to the effect. I’ve listed some things here, but this is by no means all there is. Do some research online. Talk with a seasoned wife or another officer you trust. If your department does have resources, by all means take advantage of them.

There are a few practical things you can do as his wife while dealing with his crisis:
• Create a safe place to come home to. Be ready to listen without judgment or fearful reaction. Spend good, quality time with him in his off-duty time.
• Make an appointment for him to get a physical. Stress can take a toll on his body. Nip health problems in the bud.
• As much as you can, create delicious, healthy meals for your family. Stress tends to increase a desire for junk.
• Discourage making important decisions when he is overwhelmed.
• Maintain normalcy with life. Routine can keep balance in the midst of trials.
• Write down your feelings through the journey. When you’re on the other side, you can look back and see how far you both have come.

Second, deal with it head on. It is so important for us as wives to support them in a way that is not codependent. We want to understand and support them as our husbands, but that doesn’t mean making excuses for their behavior. If there is a problem, treat it as reality and work toward a solution. If it’s an issue like burnout he’s dealing with, that could be easily identified and worked through without professionals. But if it’s bigger and deeper, seek help.

Resources Available

Talk with someone safe. Find out if your husband’s department has programs designed to help in each of these issues. If so, make sure that there is confidentiality and then proceed. A police chaplaincy program is another potentially valuable resource. There are many avenues of crisis intervention, and they are designed to discreetly come alongside.

Check if your department has an employee assistance program. They are designed to help police officers get the help they need, sometimes even paying for counseling. Inquire if your husband’s department has a peer support program where other officers have gone through something similar, and join with your loved one to help them through the recovery process. Some departments also offer support groups for related issues.

Religious communities and organizations throughout the country and abroad have many different resources as well. Counseling, support groups and programs, books, and radio programs are designed to come alongside and provide encouragement, support, and guidance.

If these avenues have been tried, and still your officer is struggling, consider an intensive retreat. Two facilities exist in the United States to treat problems related to PTSD and critical incident stress. In California there is the West Coast Post-trauma Retreat. The On-Site Academy is located in Massachusetts. These three- to five-day retreats are held monthly and are designed to help emergency personnel who are overwhelmed by a critical incident or other job-related trauma. The resources section at the back of this book contains contact information.

Through these resources, build your support system. Don’t hesitate if you feel your man is in trouble. His life and your marriage depend on it.

August 7th, 2013

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Chp 8: Stuff Happens. When Hard Times Come

It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Stress can create police marriage problems but you can be prepared.

Because my husband has PTSD from his deployment to Iraq, the Fourth of July is now about renting loud movies, closing all the windows and blinds or praying that he gets called into work so he can be barricaded behind the prison walls where the outside can’t come in. I don’t fully understand it all, but that’s what we have to do now to make him feel better. We help relieve some of his anxieties and reassure him that while he will never forget what he went through,. God is still taking the time to heal his heart and mind. We do it one day, one step, and one prayer at a time.

Renee, wife of former National Guardsman and current sheriff’s deputy

You may have heard the tongue-in-cheek phrase about motorcycle cops: “They say there are two kinds of motors: those who’ve gone down and those who will go down.” It’s a little along the lines of a law enforcement career in general: those who have had some kind of difficulty on the job and those who will. In a twenty-to-thirty-year career, your man will suffer something. Injuries, long-term effects of hypervigilance, supervisors who don’t get it, burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief over fallen comrades and other difficulties will at some point take a toll. How will you maneuver through these challenges together?

There are three kinds of stress that law enforcement officers experience. The first is general stress, the day-to-day things that life hands us. There are varying levels depending on the seasons that we go through—illness, death of a loved one, financial pressures, and so on.

The second kind of stress that your spouse may go through is cumulative stress. Dr. Ellen Kirschman describes cumulative stress as “prolonged, unrelieved wear and tear that results from having more demands than a person can respond to.”[i] This is also called burnout.

The third kind of stress is critical incident stress. This develops when a specific event happens that overwhelms the officer’s ability to cope effectively. Examples would include accidents that have multiple fatalities or that involve children, a mass casualty incident (like 9/11), a shooting, a suicide of a co-worker, and other disturbing incidents.

Some of the symptoms of critical incident stress are physical. These include chest pain, trouble breathing, trembling, high blood pressure, stomach issues, headaches, fatigue, and poor sleep. Emotional symptoms include denial, fear, depression, feelings of helplessness or feeling overwhelmed, anger, and excessive dwelling on the event. Other symptoms of critical incident stress are cognitive. These include disorientation, hyper-alertness, issues with concentration and memory, nightmares and flashbacks, and assigning blame to others. There are other responses reflected in behavior. [No comma needed in previous sentence.] In addition to some that I go into a bit more below, you may see changes in eating habits, crying spells, and unusual spending.

As wives, we need to be aware of the ways our men respond to stress and learn to recognize problems. It’s not an if; it’s when. Life happens. I’ve provided information on some responses to job stress. It is not an exhaustive list. If you suspect that any of these areas are affecting your guy, I would suggest you do a little extra research of your own so that you can support him in an educated manner.



[i]     Ellen Kirschman, I Love a Cop (New York: The Guilford Press, 2007) page 89.

July 8th, 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 5: Game Face, His Coping Mechanisms

His Coping Mechanisms

Your cop will have his ways to deal with stress. You may not be crazy about some of them, but, if it’s working, you need to let it go. A couple of years ago, Brent had a chief who dealt with stress by having an occasional outdoor cigar-smoking session with a few guys in the office. My daughters hated this. They always knew when Daddy smoked a cigar that day. But I knew that a few cigars over a several month period were unlikely to do any damage. In fact, it did him some good to take an occasional timeout in the middle of a hard work day.

Debriefing with their friends seems to help them deal with stuff a bit easier. Suggest he play racquetball or golf with some buddies. Maybe a yearly hunting trip is in order, or have him spend a morning fishing with a friend. During these times, it’ll also help your attitude if you schedule something for yourself.

Cop humor, silence, Monday-night football, motorcycle riding, exercise… our guys need outlets. There has to be some way for them to fill up. He’s putting out a lot of himself to be an officer. You can help too by listening, taking care of your portion of the marriage partnership, initiating sex, and creating a safe home. But as awesome as you are, you are not the only place he can be filled. Support an outlet or two that build him up.

Our Response

Understanding our men—who they are, what they do, how they deal with it—helps us to know better how to support them. But this is only half of it. How we respond is the other half.

Erica, whom I referred to earlier in this chapter, says that she doesn’t think about this stuff each and every day he walks out the door. I don’t either. But I suggest thinking through it ahead of time when all is well, letting these thoughts digest so that day to day and year to year we grow and learn together instead of moving apart. In some ways, it’s putting on our own mind armor to keep us in the marriage game as well.

We have a choice here. We can begrudge the way they are and build a wall to protect our sense of who we think they should be. We could, over time, harden our hearts toward parts of them and complain behind their backs to our friends. We could demand that they change, and they might even try out of love for us. But, in the end, they will not be able to trust us completely.

Or we can accept them for who and what they are, respecting their processes. We can love them unconditionally for what they are and be forgiving for what they aren’t. This acceptance gives them the freedom to be real. And in the security that this provides, they might even just mellow out over time. I’ve witnessed this in many marriages. We might say, “She’s been good for him.” At the very least they will appreciate the safe place that our love creates and trust us with depths of themselves we will treasure. Sex may be better, too, as the walls of mistrust disappear and we grow in intimacy.

On its surface, it seems like an easy choice. But it isn’t. Marriage is hard. Marriage to a cop is even harder. How can we get the courage necessary to thrive amidst all of this?

April 8th, 2013

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Chp 5: Game Face-The Hero at Home

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.

April 1st, 2013

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Ch. 4: Code Four Communication-Selfishness v. Listening to Understand

Selfishness vs. Listen with the Desire To Understand

This last communication killer is so common it’s actually part of our culture.  We’re encouraged to look out for ourselves, to be self-focused. We’re also naturally inclined to respond to our own desires, feelings, and whims. We’ve been doing it since we could breathe. Maturity comes when you can keep your selfish tendencies in check, thinking and acting as if others are important too.

In a way your husband has sworn to the department that he will set selfishness aside, that he would lay down his life to save another. This is unselfishness at its best, real hero quality. You, as his wife, have agreed to share him for the greater good, another unselfish quality.

But in the day to day, we each have needs and wants that call to be met. We have dreams to pursue and goals to accomplish. So it’s a dichotomy, making sure that we take care of ourselves but also tending to the needs of our husbands, kids, work, etc.

If we really want an outstanding relationship, we will make a choice to listen with a desire to understand each other. But it requires character—humility, even—to set yourself aside for a time to listen.

Roger Williams, Director of the Mount Hermon Conference Center once said, “Selfish people will never live in unity.” In marriage, everything needs to be filtered through us. Not “me,” but “we.” And the “we” includes you both—sometimes him, sometimes you, and sometimes both. There’s a give and take here. And it takes practice.

Power Trip

This is a difficult chapter. Good communication requires responses that don’t always come naturally. It takes courage and inner strength to speak the truth in a way that doesn’t leave our partners wounded. But understand something, ladies: you have power. You have the power to crush your husband, to let your frustration fly in his face, or slowly, methodically undermine him. Either way, it could reduce him to shreds. The closer you grow, the more dangerous you become. You and I both know some women who are very good at this.

But you also have an opportunity to use your power to do something incredible. You have a choice to build him up into the man he deserves to be. Your love and respect can build strength and confidence in him. You can strengthen that thin blue line, indirectly, through careful, proactive words and actions—words that encourage, even heal; actions that respect who he is.

February 25th, 2013

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