When I first met my husband, I have to admit that I was a bit intrigued. What is an officer’s life like? What would it be like to marry a police officer? What does being a police officer’s wife entail?
Being a police officer’s wife…
Early in our relationship, I found out about the crazy schedules that can change at a moments notice. I learned that plans you have made will be cancelled about 50% of the time. Vacations that you have looked forward for so long may or may not happen, and you learn to not get excited about them until they are really in progress.
I learned quickly
Things happen in the blink of an eye that can be disheartening for the wives and children of police officers, as well as the officer/husband/father himself. Not only is he upset because he cannot keep the plans, but he is sad that he let his family down yet again. Over the years, it becomes the norm. It’s not always easy, but it is normal in your life.
I have never regretted it
I was well aware of these ups and downs before I married my husband. The reason for this is because we dated for 4 years before we married. Although I wasn’t happy about it at the time (I knew I wanted to marry him!), I now understand why he waited. He has explained to me several times that many cops get divorced due to the difficult schedules, changing plans, etc. These make for some very challenging times and he just wanted to give me the chance to really know what I was getting into by marrying him. He wanted me to experience a variety of scenarios. It turns out, I loved him enough to want to to marry him, even with a life that can be unsettled at times.
Many times I felt like a single parent. I especially felt this way on weekends when my husband was working long weekend shifts – those times were quite lonely. When the kids were little, I would take them to the park, or a festival, or anything that might entertain them (us, really). I would see other families out and about, laughing and having fun and I wished we could be them. I wanted my husband with us. I wanted him to be able to push the kids on the swings, and just laugh at the fun stuff. But then I would stop and remind myself that HE would love to be here too. We both longed for the same thing. I have felt guilty right alongside him when we had to let our children down, and I have also learned to hide my own disappointment. I have comforted my children and made up for these times by doing something else that is fun for them, all the while wishing my husband could be there with us. He made the time up and spent time with the kids when he did have time off…and it was glorious.
The worry within
There is constant worry when you are an officer’s wife. Will your spouse really come home tonight? Will something terrible happen to him while he is at work? When we were first married and my husband was on graveyard shift (the shift I most despised), I would stay up most of the night listening for his voice on our police scanner (bad idea – and one I stopped after a few months!). It somehow made me feel safe – like I was right there with him. There was also a downside though – when he would respond to a call that was very urgent and I didn’t hear his voice on the scanner for an extended period of time. I could hardly breathe, as I spoke to the scanner like it was him. “Honey…honey…please say something”. I would not let myself fall asleep until I knew he was safely back in his patrol car. Then I jolted awake when I heard his voice and the next call…
Please bring the posse
I went on a couple of ride alongs with him early on in our relationship, and that only made me worry more. He had shown me a red button in his car that was only to be pressed in a really big emergency. This button had the power to bring the “posse – his fellow officers, his brothers in blue – in a matter of seconds. I remember one night, there was a particular car stop where he had pulled over a car full of “undesirables”. It was the middle of the night and it was cold, dark and silent. It was just he and I, and the other car. He stepped out of the patrol car and slowly approached the other car. I was petrified as he approached the driver’s side window. My heart was beating out of my chest. My finger was placed on the bright red button, and it took every bit of strength I had to resist putting pressure on it. I was scared. I wanted the posse. I wanted my husband safe.
The emotional toll
It takes a certain type of person to be an officer’s wife (I’m not patting myself on the back, but it really does). As I mentioned above, the divorce rate of cops is through the roof and understandably so. An officer’s wife is not only dealing with her own emotional issues, she is dealing with and trying to understand her husbands emotional wellness. Law enforcement officers see so many horrendous things that the average citizen doesn’t see (thank goodness). They carry around vivid images in their heads, they feel guilty for not getting somewhere in time, and guilty for when they are not able to help. They are especially shaken up when something happens to a child. Many times when they come home after an especially hard day, they do not share the details with their wives, and for good reason. The resulting effect however is that police officers tend to keep their emotions bottled up. A cops wife offers support and is a good listener in those times when they do need to let it all out. A police officer’s wife knows when he doesn’t want to talk about whatever he is going through, but he just needs you to be there by his side, even in silence.
A police officer’s wife cries right beside her husband at the funeral of a fallen officer – it is one of the saddest things one can watch…for the families of a fallen officer and for the officer himself, who will never again be able to come through the front door each day and see his family. He will not be able to watch his children grow up, and he will not be able to enjoy growing old with his wife. It is also sad for a cop’s wife to think “that could have been my husband”. It’s hard to see your own husband so visibly shaken, by having those same exact thoughts about himself.
Good for the soul
There are so many bright spots being married to a cop. SO many bright spots. An officer’s wife hears heartwarming stories that make her love her cop even more. Stories that tell of the kind and sensitive side of the man she married. The side she already knows, but still loves to hear about. Stories of helping a little old lady…
She hears hilarious stories that can make you laugh on the spot for years to come. Stories worth repeating over and over again. Stories that some would probably find hard to believe. Stories that make you say, “you can’t make this stuff up!”. These all brighten the day of a police officer’s wife. It is also good for the soul when she hears the dedication he has for his department and his fellow officers. She beams with pride when when her husband is in uniform, and also when he receives a much deserved award.
The jokes are priceless
An officer’s wife can joke about doughnuts with him (I wouldn’t advise you to do this!). We (well mostly me) have a lot of fun with this, and the jokes are endless.
This cop’s wife (me) gets to experience the airhorn and flashing lights behind her, when she is (un)fortunate enough to happen to be driving in front of him. Oh and just because he feels like being silly. This cop’s wife will sometimes fling a “fun” hand gesture back to him out of the sunroof, just to watch him laugh – it’s all in fun. There is also the added perk of being pulled over by other cops in the city – this always makes for some interesting situations. A police officer’s wife has a group of friends that consist mainly of other officers and their wives. It’s a group that understands each other completely. It’s a group that will always have each others backs, no matter what.
All joking aside
There are ups and downs, as there are in any marriage, but this is definitely a unique relationship.There are many high points as well. Nothing feels better than when you actually DO get to take that much awaited vacation. The excitement is almost doubled. There is always a feeling of safety when I am with my husband- he would never let anything happen to myself or our children, and that is wonderful feeling. He is always prepared for any situation…always. There is great comfort in that.
Many police officers have that tough guy facade, but behind the badge, my husband is the sweetest, most loving man ever. He treats me like a queen and like there is no one above me. I was speechless when I received a sweet inscription on the back of the badge pendant he had made especially for me. The front of the badge has his P.D.’s name on it, a diamond, and his badge number. I feel like I am carrying him with me wherever I go. He is always close to my heart, and I feel the same pride wearing my badge as he does with his.
I wouldn’t trade this life of being a police officer’s wife for anything in the world.
Ten years later…I am looking back on this post and wondering where the time went. The kids are grown, and we are retired! That is a great perk of being a police officer’s wife – you can usually retire young. We are enjoying retirement very much, although it was a big adjustment for my husband. For someone who had the adrenaline rush almost daily for almost 30 years to a pretty relaxed lifestyle, took some getting used to. They say that cops have a hard time with this. I think he is doing pretty good with it now. We have moved out of state and LOVE our new life.
Life with my police officer husband was worth every cancelled plan, rescheduled vacation, missed birthday…I won’t go on, but it was worth it!
I wouldn’t trade this life of being a retired police officer’s wife for anything.
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