Defy the Divorce Rates

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The night before my husband was about to graduate from the POST academy, we were given the opportunity to participate in an optional class offered to the Officers, it was on Police Marriage.  Up to this point in our marriage I think that I had briefly heard that there was a higher than average divorce rate among the law enforcement community.  

During this class however the instructor provided statistics that he had found that stated that Police Marriage divorce rates to be as high as 75% on a first marriage.  He also stated that if that first marriage were to fail, that the percentage of divorce for a second marriage for an officer can then be as high as 85%.Though some research I have come to find that there no actual proven statistics on this though we do know that divorce among officers is higher that the average career.  However at the time these numbers completely surprised me, and if I’m being completely honest, I started to panic a little bit.  I was not aware that the percentages were so high.  

After graduation when we returned home,  I wanted to know why they were so high and what I could do to protect and safeguard my marriage from the hardships of my husband’s career.

I certainly didn’t want us to become one of those staggering divorce statistics. So I began to read as many books as I could about the emotional health of law enforcement officers and anything that I could find that was geared towards the spouses of Law Enforcement Officers.  I was also surprised to find that there was not as much material out there on these subjects as I thought there would be.  I wanted to be prepared for what we might face, it was nice to be able to read what others have experienced that have Walked this Line with their spouses before me, and to have knowledge of what happens to officers while on the job. While reading this material was helpful and truly did help me to understand a lot of things about Law Enforcement that I would not have otherwise understood, I started to feel that fearing the divorce rates wasn’t doing me any good. Mostly because I began to really understand how much of marriage is a choice.  

Can Marriage be tough sometimes? Absolutely!  Can being married to a Law Enforcement officer be even harder?  Most definitely!  

We chose to marry our spouses and they chose to marry us.  Love is an action, no matter your career, it is choosing to wake up everyday, and put someone else’s needs before your own.  It is choosing to serve and care for another unequivocally, day after day, because there is no where else you would rather be.  Just because our Spouses chose to be Law Enforcement Officers doesn’t mean that our marriages are doomed to fail. It also doesn’t define who you are your spouse ARE, it is simply what they DO.  If you allow the job to become who the two of you ARE instead what your spouse DOES it will begin to consume you, and have a negative impact on your relationship.  I do feel that it is important to educate ourselves on the dangers that law enforcement poses to our loved ones mental and emotional health, and the extra pressures that it can place on our marriage.  It is important to be able to spot when our spouse may be struggling from the job and be able to help them, it is also important to be able to realize if we ourselves are struggling, and be willing to get either of you help if the time ever arises.  As long as we are consistently choosing to love and support one another and take the time to educate ourselves, those two things alone should help all law enforcement relationships to thrive, instead of just survive. In addition to these two things though, We have found a few other things to be valuable in creating a happy Law Enforcement marriage.

1) Effective communication - Effective communication is crucial to a Law Enforcement Marriage. A breakdown of communication seems to be huge problem in LE marriages, but with a little extra work it can be well maintained.  When LEO's are on duty and working theirs shifts, it can be difficult at times to feel connected.  There can even be a lack of time to communicate much during the waking hours if the LEO is working the night shift and the spouse is working or running the house hold during the day.  Then there is always the need for the LEO's to also adjust when coming home from shift, by processing what happened on shift that day and then returning from "cop mode" to "home mode". It may not always be best to bombard you spouse right when they walk in the door with a list of "Honey-do's" or Give them a rundown of everything that happened that day as soon as they come home. Giving them time to acclimate to the home environment before they have to engage in any deep conversation will create a more effective line of communication for both the spouse and the officer.  However, I think that every LEO should also know how important it is for the spouse to have them reengage and reconnect with the family once they have had a chance to relax after being on shift.  There is a delicate balance and each party need to pay attention to what their spouse needs as far as communication.  We have found that the little things go a long way in our marriage as far as communication goes, a text before bed while he is on night shift,  leaving a note on the counter or their patrol car for your spouse to see are great ways to try to stay connected if your schedule are not allowing you to have a lot of face to face time while they are on shift.  When possible spend as much time as possible communicating face to face and sharing what each of you need as far as communication goes will go a long way in helping to create a happy environment in your marriage.

2) Dating one another - This alone has been one of the best decisions that we have personally made for our marriage.  Taking time to date our spouse is incredibly important in any marriage but I find it to be especially helpful in an LE Marriage.  It gives the two of you time to reconnect with each other without the distractions of work, the kids, or anything else that may take time away from you focusing on one another. I know that schedules can get busy and you may feel like having a "datenight" may not be at the top of your priority list but I promise that this investment in your marriage will help you both feel so much more connected to one another.   Even if you have to schedule the time in and put it onyour calendar, do it, and I urge you to guard that time alone with your spouse with everything you have.  It doesn't necessarily have to be every week, just pick a time frame that works for your relationship, whether that is once a week, every other week or once a month. It doesn't have to be expensive either, and you don't even have to leave the house if you don't want to, get creative with your time and resources.  Trust me we have had more date nights home since we have had small children than I would care to admit, I wouldn't trade a second of that time with my husband.  It has fostered a much deeper connection for both of us on so many levels. Make the time date each other, show your spouse that you have time for them and that time is important to you as well.

3) Serving your spouse - When thinking about serving others, I sometimes think that so many don't think that includes serving our spouse.  It is important to show service to the one that we love so much.    Doing things to make our spouse's lives easier with out them asking and doing so with a positive attitude can go a very long way in the happiness of both you and your spouse.  The small things go a really long way, they let your spouse know that you are thinking of them when they are not around.  It can be something as simple as leaving a treat for your LEO to take and share with his shift, or for the LEO's it could be seeing that your spouse needs something done around the house and jumping in and doing it without having to be asked.  When we take the time to try to be consistently looking for ways to serve our spouse's and making their lives easier it can help us both to be happier in our marriage and can help our spouses to know how loved and validated they are in our lives.

There are many more things that we can do to help support our marriages these are just a few of the things that we have implemented in our marriage that I feel have helped in so many ways. Having a Law Enforcement marriage can be an incredible and amazing thing if we choose for it to be and I believe that we should all fight to DEFY THE DIVORCE RATES of Law enforcement marriages I feel deeply passionate about Law Enforcement marriage. I believe that every officer and their spouse should have tools at their disposal to help create and foster strong relationships of love and support between the two of them.

That is why Walking The Thin Blue Line was created: to support Police Marriages & Families.  There is no need for the divorce rates in the Law Enforcement community to be so high.

So I pose the question to all of you?  What can you choose to do today to foster love and connection in your marriage?