His attitude had changed. He was angry all the time. He became distant. He began closing himself off. When I tried to hold a conversation with him it became impossible. I tried to ignore the sudden changes and focus my energy on our children and my dad. I began to have second thoughts about us. Was he cheating? Was he having doubts about our second child? Did he not love me anymore? Was it my dad? Was my dad tearing us apart? Emotionally I was a wreck. It didn’t help that I was 3 months pregnant. But, what I discovered about police life is that my husband was going to need me more than I needed him.
My husband has always had an interest in law enforcement. Don’t let him fool you if you ever talk to him. His story is always, “well I graduated college it was time to find a job. The local police dept. was hiring so I applied.” He always tries to play the low key guy. So when he applied and got into the academy it was quite a transition. Right before graduation the academy had a family night. Family night provided families with the resources and advice about what may become of police life. It was definitely insightful.
However, no matter how much we thought we were prepared for this life, it still surprises us. I won’t go into the details of what my husband has seen or gone through just to keep his privacy. I will however discuss the fact that for once in my life or more like once in my marriage it was my turn to be the listener. When I mean listener, I mean actually listen. This was new to me. For one my husband has always been the listener and I have always been the talker. I mean he’s just not an emotional or talk about my feelings kind of guy. But, I quickly realized that this wasn’t about me. It was about what he needed to be able to cope and be ready for the next shift.
This took time and practice.
My husband had to practice his communication. He had to be able to let his guard down and just talk.
I had to practice patience. I had to allow him to talk when he was ready and not suffocate him with thousands of questions. I also had to stop making it about me. As an emotional person if I feel like something is off, I have a tendency to start thinking that it’s all my fault. I start to question if I am the reason he is not talking which is never the case. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to talk.
Trust me when I say, we’ve had thousands of petty arguments just for the fact that I thought it was my fault.
Nonetheless, all of this was a transition. I can’t pretend that some of the stories he shares with me is always easy to swallow. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes as a listener I do have to stop stories and revisit them. That’s okay. Sometimes the things he sees and deals with everyday is his “norm.” For me not so much. I think in my head sometimes “oh, that can’t be true.” Then the next day it’s on the local news.
My husband is three years soon to be four years with the local police dept. When he started the talks we had were intense, but nowadays the talks are pretty low key. His mood swings are definitely non-existent and we have definitely grown through this experience. Beginning a new life as a police officer is never easy for the officer and for the family. We learn to adapt to change and we begin to understand that it’s all for a reason. Yes, there are plenty of absent holidays and late night overtimes, but what has helped us through is the open communication. Communication whether it’s good or bad helps. Allowing my husband the opportunity to be vulnerable is an honor. An honor that I don’t take for granted for the simple fact that it means he truly trust me.
However, our relationship is far from perfect. This crazy life has its moments. There are times I don’t want him to go to work and wish he would call in sick. Then there are other times where I regret not telling him I love him because I decided to start a fight before he left. (Which by the way I recommend never to do). Then there are those special moments when I catch a glance of my husband in his uniform and I can see how much pride he carries with him. Whether it is the law enforcement life or just life in general we can all take away from these moments to help each other grow. Trust me, my husband and I have definitely grown. So can you.