Part of your support system has to be your spouse. You need him too!
Up to this point I have talked about getting support from others. But I cannot move ahead without mentioning the most influential person of your support system: your husband! You are one entity, and you can lean on one another. Two lives intertwined, investing time, resources, and parts of yourselves to build a life together.
A long-term marriage is a journey of growth. I mentioned earlier that Brent and I had spent our earlier years peeling off our rough edges so that we can enjoy our soft centers in the later years. To be able to do this takes a two-way give and take, not a one-sided approach. Some of your needs will only be met by him.
Your husband’s input and support is valuable no matter how hard it may be to hear. Our guys many times will be brutally honest; they’ve been trained to call it like they see it. For many women this is hard to take.
Kim didn’t see James as her protector for many years. Every time she brought her unresolved conflicts to him from work, he’d ask questions about her response. He was never quick to join her pity parties and didn’t seem to take her side much. He was painfully objective. After awhile Kim translated that to mean that he didn’t care enough to protect her.
But James had a different approach. His support was unwavering for Kim, but he had a whole-picture viewpoint. Rather than take her side no matter what, he thought it best to counsel her to see the situation not as a victim but as an involved party. Sometimes Kim would be right but not always. James felt she should take responsibility for her part in problems, not just enable the victim mentality she resorted to. As Kim matured over the years, she came to see that James was no doubt a protector—he protected her dignity.
Your husband can support you even if he doesn’t see things your way. In fact, it is always better to get another opinion that is different from your own and then think it through. Our husbands are trained to ask good questions and think objectively. Generally women are led by emotions of compassion and empathy as well as a healthy need for significance. But these strong emotions can sometimes trick us. We may not be able to see the full picture. Our husbands can add in other thoughts that help balance us out, and vice versa. They are a strong addition to our support system.
Time for Reinforcement
Andy and Karen were struggling to make ends meet on their police department salary. Andy was working graveyard shift and tried to pick up extra shifts to give them a little breathing room financially. Karen was growing more and more discontent with never seeing her husband, which led to anger. She was almost ready to call it quits when they went to talk with a pastor at their church. After listening to their plight, he suggested counseling. But they were already strapped financially and couldn’t afford it. He then suggested that they meet with another law enforcement couple who could provide some counsel and guidance. Because they’d heard Brent and I speak at a law enforcement function, they contacted us.
We met for a year or so, first as couples then individually. We were able to come alongside them and help them to talk through their issues in a condemnation-free environment. We didn’t offer much advice unless they asked for it but brought up pieces of problems they should look at and discuss. They were soon back on track, but we continue to keep in contact with them to make sure they’re solid.
Sometimes we need a little help to get past the obstacles we face in our marriages. Finding other people who can help you in some way is another piece of your support system. Mentoring and marriage retreats can be a great way to invest in your relationship, as can counseling.
Erica and Marlo, mentioned in previous chapters, go to counseling regularly, like dental check ups. They need a little cleaning to keep things healthy. Others go only when they are in crisis. But do your homework. Not all counselors are created equal. Try to get some recommendations. Inquire if they work with law enforcement. If you are of a particular faith, you may want to ensure that the counselor’s approach is compatible with your beliefs. Spend time in the research beforehand and have their information available for when you need it.
Counsel, friendships with women, your relationship with your husband, and other members of law enforcement all make up your support system. You can’t do life alone and remain healthy. We need each other for the ups and for the downs.