A Battle for Your Mind
It was a beautiful morning but hot. A small group of men sat in chairs, facing us from the front, their duty uniforms blending in with the helicopters parked behind them. We were honored to be in their presence as the master of ceremonies recounted the heroics of these men while deployed in Afghanistan. Their ordeal sounded like a scene in a movie, but what they’d been through was very real. After they were awarded their distinguished medals, the families joined them up front for pictures. The officer we were there to support was joined only by his kids, as he was divorced. I felt a lump in my throat. This brave yet humble man before us had been deployed twice to provide medical assistance to those fighting for our freedoms.
When at home he serves as a police officer. I’m sure it was very difficult for his wife to endure the loneliness, the risks, and other things that make marriage to a soldier/cop challenging. Being the wife of a policeman, agent, deputy, or soldier is tough, and there are those who don’t make it. I’d like to tell you it’s not that difficult, but the facts speak for themselves. Divorce is a very real problem for law enforcement. But it isn’t inevitable. Ellen Kirschman, PhD, a clinical psychologist who works with law enforcement and author of I Love a Cop, says this: “Several police-specific studies suggest that the first three years of marriage are the most precarious and that if a male officer stays married beyond those three years, his marriage is, in fact, more stable than one in the general population.”1
Sherry agrees with this. The third year of her marriage to her police officer was very difficult. Her husband couldn’t juggle the new demands of his job, and they had been struggling for a couple of years. Both sides of their extended family were not familiar with the difficulties facing them as a new law enforcement couple and therefore didn’t understand. Finally Sherry moved out. It got everyone’s attention. Their relatives rallied around them, and after six months of processing and healing, they reunited. They are now enjoying a thriving marriage of eleven years.
Making the choice to stay or leave starts in the mind. When things are tough, there is a natural tendency to run. When hard times stay for a particularly long season, some women reach their breaking point. They need relief. And there are those who seek relief in leaving. But in many circumstances, divorce is the beginning of a whole new set of problems. I’ve had my own mind battles. There are times in my marriage that the vow I pledged back in 1988 was the only thing holding me in place. I will go into this later on. But first let’s take a look at the foundation of marriage: commitment.