By Matthew Loux, faculty member at American Military University
Mother’s Day is a time to thank all the women in our lives who work hard and make great sacrifices for their families. The mothers and wives who are married to law enforcement or military officers are no exception.
As a 20-year police officer, there have been many years of turmoil and stress because of my career. My wife has seen me through it all. She provides me support and guidance in ways that I do not usually see or even sometimes acknowledge. I truly appreciate everything she has done for me and I encourage others in law enforcement and the military to take the time to thank their spouse for her commitment and love every day.
Acknowledge Turbulence Caused by Shift Work
My wife and I married while I was already in the police department. Although things ran smoothly, at least to me, it was a trying time. Whether she stayed home to take care of the kids or was forced to go to work to make ends meet, she was a rock. She would keep the children quiet when I worked midnights, get them ready for school when I worked days, and attend their sporting and school events when I had to work evenings.
[Related article: Prepare Your Spouse for a Law Enforcement Life]
While officers think shift work is hard on us—and it is—it is also very difficult on our spouses. While you may love to work evenings or midnights because of the action, before you decide to do so, talk to your spouse and family and make it a joint decision.
Remember Stress Bleeds into Family Life
Police officers and military personnel have incredibly stressful jobs. The dangers of the job cause significant stress for both officers and spouses. Other causes of stress include being away from your loved ones, financial concerns, and family and medical issues.
My wife knows me so well that she can tell I’m feeling stressed just by my text messages or phone calls. I wish I could read her as well. Officers must work to pay closer attention to their spouse’s needs and feelings because our jobs often cause them stress just like it does for us.
Be Conscious of Your Personality Type
Many officers are Type A personalities: strong, independent, and driven. This can make them great officers, but it can also cause issues. Officers with such personalities need to know that we cannot control everything and should not try.
It’s important to talk with your spouse because such communication can help level you out. My wife has talked to me about taking a step back to enjoy life, which I have fully embraced. Being driven is a great thing, but now I take more time to listen to my wife, take her out on dates (without the kids), and ask what she needs or wants.
Address Fears Associated with Your Job
You may go to work every day looking for the next good case or call for service that will make the job enjoyable. But what officers often forget is the fear our spouses feel when we leave the house. Knowing that fear should inspire every officer to concentrate harder and train as much as possible to ensure you come home every night.
It is also important to plan for the worst-case scenarios. What if something does happen to you? You owe it to your spouse and family to make sure your assets are protected and your family is taken care of financially. That means sitting down with your spouse and discussing a will, life insurance, trusts, etc. Meet with an attorney to outline your joint plan.
Chances are, your spouse is the glue that keeps your family together. Spouses often handle finances, shopping, cooking, cleaning, medical bills and childcare. Remember that when you are held over for a late arrest, someone calls in sick, or you want to work that off-duty job, it is your spouse who picks up the slack.
This Mother’s Day, make sure she knows how much you appreciate her. Go the extra mile to make sure your finances, will, liability, and life insurance matters are in order. On May 10, do something nice for your spouse and mother to show how much you appreciate their sacrifice and dedication to your dreams. I know I will.
About the Author: Matt Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school, and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.