When I first met my husband, he was in uniform. In true woman form, I was enticed by his good looks, and not to mention how good he looked in said uniform. At the time I was your typical, slight-drunk 20-something out with friends chatting up a hottie police officer – as I like to refer to it. I had blinders on and didn’t look too far beyond his boots and badge.
My husband and I will both tell you we knew the moment we met that we were going to marry each other. What I didn’t realize was everything that came along with those boots and badge.
The first few months of dating were blissful and seemed somewhat normal, as I was still waiting tables, so my typical hours were from about 4 p.m. to midnight, with random weeknights off, and his shift was 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. with Mondays and Tuesdays off.
We fell hard and fast into love, moved in together after three or so months, and were on the fast-track to marriage. It wasn’t until I graduated college and got a regular 9-5 job that I truly realized the hardships of his job as a police officer.
I spent most of the weekends at my parents house as he was working, most weeknights alone, trying to figure out how to make dinner for myself and not being bored out of my mind. I’ve never considered myself a needy person by any means, but I found myself kind of lonely at night and as a permanent third of fifth wheel on the weekends out with my friends and their significant others.
It wasn’t until my birthday that I realized I was going to be alone a lot of the time. Birthdays, birthday parties, holidays, weekends, you name it – I was usually flying solo to it. My friends and co-workers asked me how I managed, not seeing him very much, being alone most nights, and attending family gatherings and holidays by myself. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know how I do it. Other than I guess it’s just like anything else in that you adapt.
That’s not even talking about the weekend nights you do have plans to go out with friends after he gets off, but a late call squashes that before it even gets started. Or those news updates your phone so pleasantly alerts you to that there’s been an officer involved shooting or car chase. Or that his request off for your anniversary got denied because his shift is short-staffed. And my favorite, the chillingly calm phone call that he’s fine, but don’t turn on the news and I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk to you again.
These are just some of the things you sign up for when you say yes to marrying into law enforcement. People so easily forget that there’s another person behind that officer, someone who is trying to keep their composure, hold their family together and lead a sliver of a normal life. But to be honest, there aren’t many things I’d call “normal” about my life and being married to my officer. Most LEO wives will tell you the same thing.
I’d like to say it gets easier, or got easier the longer we’d been together, but it doesn’t. You just become more adaptable. You find yourself comfortable in the silence of your own home, answering questions to family and friends regarding the latest police hate agenda, and explaining to your family why your husband again can’t make it.
You do, however, have the most supportive, reliable, always-there-when-you-need-them, second family. Your family in blue. Other husbands and wives on the force who share the same life, same fear, same needs as you and who you’ll find yourself relying on a weekly, if not at times nightly basis. You go to weddings with them, parties, and keep each other updated on the state of your significant others during a time when they can’t reach out to you.
To this day I still don’t know what my life is going to be like. If I’m going to get that phone call one night, how I’m going to explain to my kids someday why daddy isn’t there on Christmas, or their birthday, or how I will continue to take care of myself and my marriage, while feeling as though at times I’m going it alone. But I didn’t know then either, and yet, here I am.