What is it about a man in uniform? I’ve known my husband since middle school, but I still remember the sudden swoon and flutter of my heart the first time I saw him in his uniform.
We dated casually for a bit, then seriously, then moved on to engagement and marriage. We never lived together before getting married so after the honeymoon I was excited to finally move on to the exciting things! Little did I know how different my marriage would be than a “normal” marriage. I was a law enforcement officers (LEO) wife, and that came with it’s own learning curve. I didn’t know a lot of other police wives at that time and therefore had no clue what I was getting myself into.
Before being married who cared if he was on night shift? I wasn’t coming home to an empty bed and empty house every night. Who cares if he works overtime? I wasn’t the one eating dinner alone after cleaning the house and setting a romantic table only to get the dreaded “Sorry honey, I’m on a call” text. Who cares if he’s on night shift? I don’t have to stay quiet in my own home so he can rest up for his next shift without hearing me. Some of these look so petty when reading them on the screen, but sometimes you’re just not prepared for the non-single single life that comes along with being a LEO wife. But even with a whole lot of arguments, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings, we managed to survive that first getting to know you year.
So here’s the single most important thing I learned as a new police wife that saved my marriage: Never do the “sniff test” on his vest – Just trust it’s dirty and wash it.
Ok, in all seriousness, here are the things I wish the veteran wives would’ve told me
1. Make police wife friends. I can’t stress this enough. Unfortunately for me, I live pretty far from most of the LEO wives from my husbands PD, but I try to make it a point to befriend them on social media and show up to the few events we do plan. If you’re having a hard time making friends with women from your husbands PD (although this would be ideal) there are so many support groups on FB for LEO wives. My favorite? South Florida LEO Wives. Join a group, ask the hard questions, get advice! But (and maybe this should be it’s own point) beware of the trolls.
Ok, let’s make it it’s own point: 2. Beware of trolls. When posting in a group of LEO wives, be sure to filter what you say. Maybe befriend a few of the wives and message them privately (with their consent of course) when you need advice on the tough or controversial stuff. That way you’re not putting your husbands business out for the world to see, but you’re still finding support. I know we’d like to think everyone at our husbands PD has our back, but let’s be honest – not everyone is going to like you (or your LEO for that matter) and what you say in a group, can and will be used against you if in the wrong hands.
3. Stay off social media after a major event. I was shocked and appalled by the vast array of hateful comments following all of the police shootings this last year or two. Sometimes I’d cry, sometimes I’d want to throw my computer, and occasionally I’d get into an internet brawl with my social media muscles flexed. But this solves NOTHING. Anyone ignorant enough to spew hate via social media, isn’t going to change their opinion no matter how valid your points are. Just stay far, far away. Unplugging from electronics is helpful every once in awhile anyway – just pretend you’re on a social media cleanse.
4. Enjoy living the non-single, single life. Woah, now. I’m not saying you’re single. I’m saying get used to sleeping alone, parenting alone, and living alone while he’s off working over time, on a Task Force, or sleeping from midnights. Don’t be offended when people forget that you’re married or question if you’ve in fact made your husband up. Focus on the fact that when your husband is too busy working his butt off to hang, you have full control of the DVR and don’t have to share that glass (read: bottle) of wine with anyone.
5. To go along with that, Allow him days out with the boys. Yes, we’ve already established that LEO’s are rarely home (at least not during normal hours of the day). But as hard as they work, that’s as hard as they need to decompress. Don’t nag him for wanting a golf day or a boys night out, encourage him to foster relationships with the guys he works with – they may need to save his life one day.
6. Understand there are different parenting rules on dad’s day home. AKA no parenting rules on dad’s day home. If your LEO wants to feed them ice-cream and watch those damn kids unwrap toys on youtube kids all day while she sits in a pull-up instead of potty training, let him. He deserve to enjoy his kids without feeling like he’s doing it all wrong. Of course it helps to be on the same parenting page! And most of the time in our house we are. But on a day like the one mentioned above, I can either a. criticize his parenting techniques and do it myself, or b. pee by myself, shower by myself, eat a hot meal, and have two open hands for wine. Yup, you had me at “pee by myself”.
7. Learn that holidays are about who you’re with, not when you celebrate. Christmas (or any holiday for that matter) is more of a fluid concept than an actual concrete date. Being someone who’s OBSESSED with holidays, this was a hard one for me. But you make your own traditions. Thanksgiving breakfast at a diner in his city? Check. Christmas tree decorating before Thanksgiving? Check. Christmas morning at 5pm? Check. You learn to love the chaos of trying to cram every last family member into your home for the one hour he’s available.
8. Always kiss them goodbye and good night. Again, another hard one for me. I’m stubborn and hardheaded. I used to like to “win” the argument at any cost – even if that meant sleeping on the rocking chair in another room and ignoring him until he apologizes. But that solves nothing. And heaven forbid he doesn’t come home to me, I would never want that to be my last memory of him. Luckily we’ve been working on our marriage and have learned some new tricks to asking for and extending forgiveness (Something I may share in a later post).
9. Create a safe haven for him at home. Let him unwind when he walks in the door. Sure, you may have had a hard day of cleaning up toddler potty accidents, spilled milk, and dog hair if you’re a SAHM. Or maybe you worked all day then came home to kids, pets and dinner duty without your LEOs help. I’m not going to say those situations aren’t hard (because they are!) – but put it into perspective when your husband gets home. He may have seen a murder, suicide, or infant drowning that day. His life is stressful and he’s coming home to you for peace of mind and safety. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the tough stuff or tell him when he’s being a pain in the butt. But learn to communicate your dislikes in a way that he doesn’t feel attacked from the second he walks in the door.
10. Pray for him and speak good things over him daily. No, the fact that he didn’t take the bullets out of his pants before they went into the wash (again) isn’t an acceptable excuse not to. I don’t always like him, but I will always protect him the best way I know how: with prayer. Not great at praying? It can be as simple as, “Lord, protect my husband and bring him home safe”. Still have no clue what to say? Check back next week for my post on scriptures I pray over my LEO.
** Note: These ideas are inspired by and a collaboration with the amazing ladies from the South Florida LEO wives Facebook group. Are you a LEO Wife in SFL? You can join the group here to see what other advice these ladies have fore new LEO wives.Not following Momming with Grace on Social Media? Don't miss out!
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