I don’t wear the badge on a uniform. But when you’re married to an officer, you wear the shadow of their badge on your heart.
Pat, wife of a CHP officer who was injured on-duty
Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust survivor
In 2006, one of our officers responded to an accident that involved a disturbed young man. One thing led to another, and a fight ensued as the man tried to steal the officer’s gun. A sheriff’s deputy joined in, as did a paramedic who was on the scene. The subject was overpowered, and he went to jail. This kind of thing happens often, but this time a reporter with a camera just happened to stop and snap several pictures of the entire incident. The photos made their way to a variety of places, and Code 3 Magazine picked them up and published them.
In response, they received an emotional letter from a wife of a police officer with three small children. She wrote that she was shocked to see such graphic pictures and didn’t wish to receive the magazine anymore. In the next issue, there were several responses to her letter. Here are two excerpts:
…[B]elieve in your husband… and support him with all your heart. It is for you, your children and the world they live in that he serves as a peace officer. You are and need to be a part of that. A loved one’s support and faith is often the secret weapon that a peace officer will use to survive a critical incident. Hiding from reality will not work.
Deputy sheriff married to a highway patrolman[i]
Being an officer’s spouse is not for the faint of heart. It takes strength, will and an understanding for the love of the job that officers feel and commit themselves to… I hope she can come to terms with that which she is now married to. If not, her constant fear will destroy both her and her marriage…
Former officer and wife of police officer
Fear had taken its toll on this young mother, and it seemed that she responded with avoidance and anger. It’s a natural instinct but one that could be destructive to her and her family. So, what’s a girl to do?
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Worry and fear are chronic when the ground you stand on isn’t firm enough to steady you. Every house is built upon a foundation, and the house will only be as sound as the materials it’s built upon. If your personal foundation is built upon things like truth, morality, goodness, and a love for others, chances are you’re standing on something solid that will withstand the storms life brings you. But if you are standing on ignorance, selfishness, fear of what could happen at any moment, or are led primarily by your senses (touch, sight, taste, etc.), your life will eventually falter on these shifting sands.
What is it that you stand on as an individual? What are your goals for your life? What drives you? When you are eighty years old, what do you want your life to look like as you take inventory of the years you invested? The answers to these questions will determine your success in life as a person, a wife, and a mother and levels of satisfaction or regret at the end of your life. It will also determine your emotional stability in the face of what your husband’s career hands you.
Most women that I talk to want to be happy. That’s what life is all about, right? We don’t want trouble, we don’t want pain. We want to feel good inside and out, have fun, live positive lives with positive thinking. It’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, if we are actively pursuing happiness, we are headed for disappointment, maybe even sorrow. Let me tell you why. Happiness is subjective. Happiness is elusive. And the definition of happiness is ever changing, depending on what it is that we chase to fill that happy place.
My youngest son recently wanted a Wii so bad he could taste it. He researched it on the web. He saved his money for months. Whenever we went shopping, he asked to swing by the electronics section just to see if they had them in stock. His pursuit of happiness was wrapped up in buying that Wii. Finally the day came when he received his Wii in the mail. For the next few weeks, he played Wii for hours. And, yes, he was so happy! But after a couple months, I noticed he was researching something else on the computer—catcher’s gear. Here we go again!
Happiness is short lived. There will be times in your marriage that you will not be happy. There will be seasons that will take you down some dark paths. If your underlying pursuit is to be happy, you may want out in these seasons. Why? Because chasing a feeling that comes and goes will be a constant source of disappointment. And in that emotional instability, you will inadvertently undermine your own marriage.
[i] Correspondence, Code 3 Magazine, (Spring 2007).