Being married to a law enforcement officer (LEO) is uniquely different from being married to a non-LEO person. I hope to share some insight into a LEO and their families’ lives. And if anything is taken from this post, I hope it is compassion and understanding for law enforcement officers, their partners and their families.
My then-boyfriend and now-husband became a LEO in 2013. I now think of that as the time WE joined the police force and WE became law enforcement. I do not think that there is another profession in which a partner/spouse carries such responsibility.
I don’t know if there is a way to properly communicate how it feels to be married to a LEO, but I will try to break my major thoughts into 4 main ideas representing how I feel and how (I assume) my husband feels.
- It is unfamiliar to me that some couples see each other every night.
When we first started this adventure, I realized that we would not have an ordinary relationship. However, I did not account for the many nights, weekends, and holidays alone. I did not account for the inability to plan anything, because he may have to work or he may be called in. But as I’m writing this, I immediately connect my comment to my husband. While I am home watching Netflix and eating popcorn, playing Frisbee with my German Shepherd, and going to bed at a normal time, my husband is in his itchy, wool uniform responding to civilian emergencies and accidents. As he pulls up to each call in his patrol car, I can only imagine he feels some type of uneasiness all the while, wishing he was on the couch, watching Netflix with his wife and dog. Every day. Multiple times. Can you imagine that?
- I do not like guns.
I am not a gun person and never have been. Again, I realized this journey as a LEO family would involve firearms. As I continuously voiced my concern to my husband around the presence of guns in our home and life, he needed to communicate a very important aspect of the job I had not thought about. He is a servant of the community at all times. He is never “off duty.” He carries his gun wherever we go because he took an oath to protect the civilians of the State of Michigan. He is assessing every situation and wondering, “do I need to step in?” At Meijer, at the movies, while we are getting ice cream on a Sunday evening. Every day. All the time. With his gun. Can you imagine that?
- No one cares about your career.
I am a teacher. Cool! You’re a nurse? Great! An engineer? Good for you! You’re a cop?
What do you say to that? My husband said something to me the other day that hit home. He said he can feel hatred because he wears a uniform. He goes to work to serve and protect. And when he gets in his car, people will immediately hate him. Can you imagine that? Sadly, I do think that many people can relate to that. But, that doesn’t make more hate okay.
- I complain about work staff meetings.
I think it is in our human nature to complain about work at some point to our partner. But, I have gained a different perspective around work complaints. When I turn over in my bed and look at my phone that says 3am, I wonder where my husband is. Is he involved with the siren I just heard? Is he okay? When will he be home? I have accepted that the job is dangerous. I try no tot worry because I just can’t. It would consume me. As I bring 3am thoughts back to my husband and away from my fear, I remember that it is his 16th hour of work for the day. He tells me the next day, he responded to a crash where a teenager was killed and he was first on scene. Can you imagine that?
The next time you think of a LEO or their families’, take a moment to remember each of the nearly 800,000 LEO’s in the US. Imagine what they feel, see, hear, or miss every day. Try to imagine that.