Being a police wife means being a single, married woman. You attend many outings on your own. You often put the kids to bed by yourself and get them ready in the morning by yourself. Dinners are often eaten alone, and you’ve grown tired of explaining to people that you are, in fact, married and not single.
You carry a toddler on one hip and a baby on the other as you make your way into doctor’s appointments and various stores. You cook meals that only you like, and you fall in love with the quiet morning routine you’ve become accustomed to.
And then, one day, your officer is off on a three day weekend. Or, even worse, they’ve taken vacation. You suddenly realize that your routines don’t blend well and you count down the hours until you can go back to your peaceful ways.
Don’t get me wrong. You love spending time with your officer, but you’ve become used to the single life and you’ve come to resent the fact that your schedule changes every once in awhile to accommodate the fact that you are, in fact, married.
There were many days early in the police wife life that I felt a heavy heart knowing that my routine would be interrupted. I was quick to anger. I was quick to take over and just do things the way I was used to because it was easier. And, I was quick to hope time would pass promptly so that we could go back to living our “separate” lives. I hate to say it, but we still fall into these patterns once in awhile now. However, with time, it’s easier to recognize when it’s happening and we’ve learned how to adjust.
Firstly, being married takes work. That’s why so many marriages don’t work these days. It’s time consuming, it’s frustrating, it’s challenging, but, most of all, it’s rewarding when it works. Throw in a child or children, two working parents, and opposite schedules, and you get what I like to call an absolute shit show.
There used to be a time where my husband and I worked in the same building. We could talk about our days and we each knew what was going on and could laugh about the things that were happening at work. Even though we didn’t like our jobs, things seemed easier back then. We were newly married, and we had everything figured out.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we both got new jobs. I had a new teaching job, and he was going to be in law enforcement. Recruit school seemed like it would be hard. He’d be gone all week, and we’d see each other on the weekends. It was actually not all too bad. We’d catch up on our time together and have lots to talk about. We still felt married even though we spent months apart.
Then, we thought it’d be even better when he was out of recruit school because we’d be under the same roof all the time again. Wrong again. This seemed harder than recruit school. With over time and the occasional shift switch, it quickly made me realize we would never have a set schedule. This made it more difficult to sit down and talk and just spend time together. Especially since he was switching between night and day shifts. This is when I first felt like I was a single, married woman.
Next, we decided it was time to expand our family. With him working nights and me working days, we thought we had it all figured out. However, this was when the single life started to consume us. Having a child and working different schedules is when I realized just how much effort marriage takes, and just how single I felt in my relationship.
I often wonder if we had a weekend away, just the two of us, if we’d have anything to talk about. Our lives are so consumed by work and our sons, that we never get time just the two of us. If we try to make date nights, they often become the four of us or don’t happen because of schedule changes. When we try to talk about work, he doesn’t have a clue who I’m talking about or why something is funny and not stupid. And, he doesn’t often open up about what is happening at his job. I understand why, but it’s hard to be there for him and understand what’s going on in his life and job when I know so little.
We hit a rut in which, when we were home together, we were so used to living our own schedules, that we didn’t interact much with one another. I devoted my time to our sons, and Mr. Troop devoted his time to cleaning up, budgeting, getting meals made, and catching up on what he’d missed throughout the week.
So, how did we overcome this little hiccup in our marriage? The simple answer is this: recognition.
You have to recognize the fact that this is how your life is. It won’t always be like this, but this is how it is right now. You might need to have a single, married life right now to get to where you want to be in five or ten years. So, coming to terms with this will be beneficial.
You may have to spend holidays alone, but one day, you’ll be spending them as a family again. Everything is a season. This season of your life is tough. Being single and married isn’t ideal, but it’s what you have to do right now.
Recognize that the time you have together is limited, so don’t wish those hours away. Put aside your own routine and your own schedule to make the most out of your time.
Recognize that plans change and you need to be flexible. If you’ve planned a date night without the kids, but your officer got held over, make the best of it. Make it a date night in with the kids, and try again another time.
Recognize that there are people out there that just have the single life, and not the married life. They do everything on their own without someone to step in when times get rough or you need a break. You at least have someone that can take over for you after a bad day or give you a bathroom break without tiny fingers under the door.
Finally, find a system that works for both of you. For us, we like to call each other out with a little saying: “That single mom life” or “That single Dad life”. Whenever one of us is trying to do it all on our own while the other is standing right there, we laugh and call them out. It makes us quickly realize that all we need to do is ask for help and we’ll get it. That we don’t always have to do everything on our own. And, that we’re not, in fact, single after all.
This season won’t last forever. Don’t spend time together wishing you could get back to your ‘single life’ and don’t waste time resenting the fact that you had to tote the children to another party on your own or that you had to cancel another date night. Find your system. Recognize what you can do on your own and what you can’t, and spend time being married when you have the chance.