Home Is The Haven
Police Family Life
by Modern Melly
Making home the haven.
Now that sounds nice, doesn’t? But is it easy? Hell no, at least not at first. But the fact is, if you’ve married a police officer, then you know you didn’t sign on for ‘easy’. After I wrote my story “Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Being A Police Wife” I was asked the simple but obvious question of ‘How?’ The answer is multifaceted, but those facets are somewhat simple. And while I’m no expert in anything, I can give you my experience- the ‘how we do’- so that you can take from it what you will. What we do works for us, and honestly? Yes, I do think it can work for you, assuming that you are two people committed to making a life together. So, having given my customary I-know-nothing disclaimer when dispensing advice, I’m going to explain what “Making Home the Haven” means as a police spouse (to me at least):
Building the Foundation of a Haven
Accept that we, police families, are different. As I’ve said before, we’re not better, or worse: just different. Embrace it. Fully. Because just like that badge they wear, we wear one as well (except ours is invisible). You don’t have to flaunt it, nor do you have to hide it (although, these days, your LE spouse may want you to be very selective in who knows- safety reasons). The faster you accept the things that separate you from ‘civilians’, the faster you will begin to see you and your LEO as a team, two warriors against the world. Now I don’t mean throw on your war paint and dig a bunker! I just mean that you need to see each other as allies, partners, and confidants.
Accept the ugly side. Do I want to hear the gory details about any given awful thing? No. Does he maybe need to talk about it, purge it so that he could compartmentalize it after? Yes. So, suck it up buttercup. You don’t have to fix it, solve it, or erase it: just listen. Say you’re sorry he had to deal with that. Then let it go. If he wants to talk, listen. Don’t shut him down when it’s too upsetting for you. If he’s not talking to you, then who? And if you don’t understand, or at least sympathize, then you’re hurting both of you.
Practice Empathy as if it’s your Religion. Seriously. Get out of your own head, your own thoughts, opinions and feelings. Generally speaking, our egocentric nature blinds us to the needs of others. Putting him first will not minimize your value, or undermine your emotions. However, it just may make you realize that the thing you’re freaking out over is nothing compared to what happened to him at work. Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn to vent. It’s not a competition!
Did his moody/silent/ snappish attitude piss you off? We tend to do a few things as women; 1) we think maybe they’re mad at us 2) we then get mad at them 3) we give back the attitude we think we are on the receiving end of. So instead, open your big girl mouth and ask if he’s okay. ‘Rough day?’ or ‘Want to talk, or have some time to decompress?’ Or even a gentle, ‘Whoa, buddy, remember me? On the same team, just tell me what you need from me.’ If he’s not good at this game of compassion, teach him. Just not right then. Do it when you’re out for a quiet dinner, over a glass of wine. Don’t whine, don’t give commands. Remind yourself: How do you like to be spoken to? And you’ll know how to ask for what you need.
Discuss Making Home the Haven. All he really needs to know from you is that you’ve got his back. Always. Tell him, show him, mean it. Let him know that you are committed to making your life together, the home that you share, a place where you can get away from everyone and everything that is stressful and negative. He spends his work time engaging with societies worst. Everything that is ugly and wrong and depraved falls at his feet, and he must be strong, brave and stoic at all times. He shouldn’t have to be that when he gets home, too. Ask him what making home a haven means to him; how does he envision a ‘perfect’ home life. Will you always be able to have that? Of course not, but if the overall feeling of ‘ahhh’ comes over both of you when you think of home, then you know you’re doing it right.
Literally make home the greatest place to be. Spotless house? Yeah, sure, in a perfect world. How about picked up, smelling good, warm, inviting, then? Listen, we have two dogs and a cat, it ain’t always sunshine and roses, but I try, and he knows I do. I’m sure this sounds a little Stepford to some of you, but realize that this is a two way street. You don’t do all this for nothing in return. You expect to be treated with the same courtesies you give, and you don’t budge on that. There is no haven unless both of you create it. He has his part as well. But that, my husband will have to write. Be confident and mindful of the role you chose in your marriage, define, live it, and stick to it. This is my current favorite quote:
You can bend this and mold it to fit your lifestyle. I am currently a part time worker/ homemaker/writer, so yes, it’s easier for me to do some of these things because I have more time at home to do it. However, this is what I’d consider ‘the frame’ of a haven. When the two components- a physical/tangible haven and an emotion haven- join, you have a pretty fierce bond. Visualize your life together as something precious that you’ve started from seed; water it, give it sunlight, nurture it, let it take root, and help it grow. It’s a living breathing thing, this life. You’ve married a man who’s chosen a calling bigger than himself, and you must be a woman of the same mettle. It doesn’t mean you don’t get pissed, or that you don’t fight. It just means you forgive more easily/let it go faster, you actually don’t sweat the small stuff, and prioritize better.
Being a police wife is a blessing and a challenge, but I consider myself a better, stronger person for it. A last bit of humble reminder: Don’t forget to have some awe and reverence for the job they do. It’s easy to get complacent and to pretend the dangers aren’t there- it’s a survival tactic we all learn- but don’t actually forget. I hope that helps someone out there new to all this, but I’m certain there are many longer term-ers who’ve got me beat in the longevity game, so PLEASE, feel free to add your sage advice to the new kids on the block!
*About Melly: Melly, aka Melanie Cherniack is author to several children’s books, all intent on promoting empowerment, inspiration, and uplifting stories. She also has two published novels, with two more to be released soon. She is NOT a therapist, psychologist or any other ‘-ist’, but rather professes to be a regular, everyday woman sharing the lessons she’s learned in life, from failures to triumphs and everything in between. If you liked this post, please SHARE it!