Developing a Thriving Family Life in Policing
Being a Police Officer is not merely my husband’s career, it carries so much more weight than that; it is part of the identity of our entire family, as we share in the commitment and sacrifice. Yet at the same time, it is his career. We are the behind the scenes first responders for our officers, we are family. What happens on the job happens to him; we are not necessarily directly affected by those events (both good and bad), but as a family, we feel the effects deeply, overwhelming pride and fear carried at the same time. It’s through love that we carry the burden together, the changed plans and shift gears, as needed, along the way.
Policing will put strains on you that you didn’t think you’d ever have to deal with, little stress fractures that sneak into your relationship and twang every now and then. For those on the “other side” of this career, the spouses, these stresses at times can be very surprising. I’m not talking about being there for someone during a bout of PTSD or major incidences. I’m talking about the everyday little events that can catch you off guard. Working over-time again, for what feels like the 15th time in a row, the set of night shifts that never seem to end, the times where you don’t see your spouse for a week, but you know they exist because the bed is still warm. The moments that snuck up and were unaccounted for because “you’ve already worked through those situations and feelings years ago”. You can probably come up with a list of your own stress fractures. But let’s not fixate on them. It’s important to acknowledge them, to talk about them with your spouse in a conversation that is open and honest and then move on. When I say to move on, I don’t mean to sound too cavalier about the subject, more so of an encouragement to not fixate on the negative aspects.
Wouldn’t it be so great, if we could turn our negative thoughts into gratitude? What an ideal, and at times, much easier said than done. But maybe, just maybe that’s the key. With each stress fracture, come up with a gratitude to counteract it. Let’s catch these stresses and change the internal dialogue until it becomes instinctive. Re-writing Over-time again *eyeroll*, to I am thankful my spouse is a committed team player, helping our community. Or Another stretch of not seeing each other this week to simply: I’m thankful we both have jobs and a roof over our heads and means to pay for it. Gratitude is an amazing tool to help shift perspective, and in turn shift happiness and grow endurance for the long haul that is life.
For us, survival of this career has pushed our family to the forefront of priorities. As we navigate policing and the changes in our lives (dating, married, married with kids, buying a home, death of loved ones and the list goes on), it has been so important to keep our perspective in check and our values clear. Spending time together as a family has always been a top priority, and nearly 10 years in, it’s even more clear now. Whether it’s taking an impromptu drive to the mountains, going on a walk or simply playing a game together; it’s taking the time to show each other that no matter what, no matter what other stuff is going on, we’re in this together and family is our number one. Always.
Beyond the Blue is a great resource for families. Comprised of CPS spouses who are going through similar things; we are in all stages of life - at the beginning and end of policing, married, common-law, kids, pets or nada. BTB is here for YOU. We want to see families not just surviving this career choice but enjoying and thriving in it. Personally, BTB was a community that I didn’t know I needed or was missing from my life until I found it and started to get involved with it. It’s just that, a community geared towards helping each other, supporting through good and not so good times and collectively working towards changing the statistics of broken hearts in a challenging career path.