Why do police marriages fail?

If you ask any successful person why he or she has accomplished so much, is so content, etc. and their response will likely have something to do with the relationships that they have with the people in their life. For married people, this is even more true. Your marriage will be the most important relationship that you ever engage in during your life. Every facet of your life, for better or worse, is impacted by your marriage. It is not simply being married those matters- it is the quality of the relationship and the impact that it has on you and your spouse.

In an ideal marriage, your spouse and you both lift each other up, metaphorically speaking. When times are tough the two of you are there for support and comfort. When times are good you two are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, pushing one another to greater heights than you had achieved even to that point. That’s the great thing about marriage- you and your spouse have direct control over how well yours works and everything that goes along with it. The two of you can take the circumstances of your lives, combine them and then take on the world together.

This is especially true for law enforcement officers. The nature of your work as a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or constable is time-consuming, stressful, and dangerous. A job that causes you to put your life on the line frequently has an impact on your mental health. At the same time, a job that requires you to work unconventional hours can also hurt your relationships. This is especially bad when you consider that, as a law enforcement officer, the relationships that you have with the people in your life can be among the most important ways for you to remain strong and healthy while working such a stressful job.

A distracted officer is one who not only cannot perform their job well but is also endangering lives- their own and other people’s. If you are walking into your workplace with a major distraction on your mind, then there is no telling what the result could be. It is better to have as clear a mind as possible when you are in the middle of intense situations that demand your full attention. Think back to your training and how much a clear mind and intense focus were emphasized while you were preparing and practicing over and over to face these types of situations.

What about being in law enforcement that can make marriage so tough?

There are several reasons why your work as a law enforcement officer may be putting your marriage in jeopardy. For one, it is almost certain that you do not work traditional business hours. Being an officer who works atypical hours and who is on-call even when you are not working can be a tough way for you to maintain a marriage. Not being with your spouse deteriorates the quality of the marriage. You not being home means your spouse must care for your children alone in many cases. This is stressful in and of itself. Missing many events due to your work obligations can wear on a family long enough.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health impairments are real concerns for law enforcement officers. While prior generations may have done their best to not think about concerns like this, we now know that burying our feelings and emotions is a recipe for disaster for people in law enforcement and the military. This increases your likelihood of suffering long-term issues as well as putting yourself at risk of suicide attempts and ideations. These are serious conditions and situations for you to find yourself in.

At the same time, people suffering from mental health impairments often struggle when attempting to maintain relationships. There is a certain amount of interpersonal communication that is necessary when it comes to building and maintaining relationships. If you feel like you are distraught, distracted, and otherwise upset because of workplace issues then that only adds to any marital discord that you have been battling through.

When do you need to decide to start receiving focused care for your marriage?

You have probably noticed for a while that you have been suffering through a rocky patch in your marriage. What you have done to improve the quality of your relationship may vary widely, however. You could have ignored the problem and hoped that it would go away. You may have become upset about it and in turn, become upset at your spouse. Projection is a defense mechanism that we all have utilized a time or two in our lives when we are feeling bad about a situation. Rather than acknowledge our behavior, we project our own decisions and shortcomings onto our spouses.

Next, you and your spouse may have made a concerted effort to work together to try and solve the problems of your marriage through communication. This means that you all may have sat down together on multiple occasions and looked each other in the eye to discuss problems in your marriage. This is not an easy thing to do and requires a certain degree of introspection. Being honest with yourself and acknowledging the role that you have played in the marriage being where it can be a great first step toward rebuilding the relationship.

Or you and your spouse may have taken the route that so many married people have and sought counseling or therapy for your marriage problems. Marriage counselors are focused on helping you and your spouse discover the root cause of your marital strife and then develop skills that can help you combat these issues both now and moving forward. A lot of what a counselor does is open the lines of communication between you and your spouse so that you can solve problems together rather than have to rely upon a counselor for every issue that arises in your marriage.

However, if you are still at a stage where you are not sure whether or not your situation merits reaching out to a counselor or therapist then the attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to help provide some information and perspective on this important subject. Too often we are caught up in our busy lives and we do not take the time necessary to carefully examine our relationships. What seemed like a minor issue at one point can suddenly blossom into a full-fledged marriage crisis if you are not careful.

If you discover that the marital difficulties, you are facing have progressed beyond something that you can repair with your spouse then we hope that you will consider reaching out to the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Our goal with these consultations is to make speaking to one of our attorneys as simple as possible. We are honored to be able to serve our law enforcement community and hope that you will consider our office if you discover that a divorce is on the horizon for you and your spouse.

When should you start to consider a divorce?

We will begin this section of today’s blog post by saying that everyone’s relationship is different. What is a danger zone for my marriage may not be a danger zone for yours and vice versa. However, there are some situations that I think are universally applicable to every marriage out there when it comes to figuring out that there is a serious problem in your marriage. If you find yourself in a position like we are about to read about then you and your spouse may consider reaching out to a marriage counselor to see if you can salvage the relationship before it is too late.

If you are a law enforcement officer spouse or married to one, and you notice that the service and protection job takes precedence over the spouse/parent job then it may be time to tap the breaks and start to think about whether or not it is time to see a marriage counselor. It is normal to have an attachment to your work when you are in law enforcement. It is an all-encompassing job where it is tough to leave the job at work and come home like you had just another day at the office. Rather, the stresses, successes, and everything in between about the job tend to follow you home when you are working in law enforcement.

That is to be expected- to an extent. When the job starts to impact and harm your relationships with other people that is when you need to do some serious soul-searching. If you are allowing your day at work to impact your relationship with your spouse and wife, you either need to be very perceptive about that or be willing to acknowledge when your spouse is clear with you about your work impacting your home life. It can take a very mature person to acknowledge when they are doing something detrimental in their most important relationships.

Many times, law enforcement personnel like yourself will tend to gravitate more toward other officers as far as outside-of-work friendships. Veterans will sometimes note that they do the same thing. Veterans who have seen combat will often return stateside and feel like it is only other veterans who they can identify for a variety of reasons. It may be understandable if you are doing the same thing but beware that it can cause your spouse to feel isolated at times. If all you talk about is work, it can begin to feel like you are speaking a different language than your spouse. This can be a stressful situation for any person to find themselves in. You may be exacerbating an already frayed relationship with your spouse by engaging only with fellow-law enforcement officers.

Another circumstance that can come up as a danger sign in your marriage is when you and your spouse get into arguments that have no resolution point. It is normal to have disagreements and even the occasional fight in your relationship. That shows that you are both invested in whatever circumstances you are debating about. However, when the two of you are content to shout back and forth yet show no energy toward concluding the argument then your marriage may be in trouble.

Consider the nature of your arguments and to what end you are arguing. Sometimes people look at arguments in a marriage as a kind of verbal sparring. Arguing with your spouse is not the same as sitting on the back porch and arguing with your buddies about politics or whatever subject is being brought up. Engaging in an argument for sport may be amusing or fill a void for a certain period, but the nature of your relationship with your spouse is such that leaving an argument unresolved can cause lingering bad feelings to develop. The next thing you know, the two of you stop speaking and relating to one another like spouses and look at the relationship as an opportunity to “one up” the other person in terms of your verbal sparring.

Do you ever feel like your spouse generally means well but also doesn’t truly understand what you are going through daily at work? This is a sort of situation where you are self-isolating for no reason. Your spouse may say something or do something that you perceive as a slight but is not intended to be that way. Rather than talk directly to your spouse about your thoughts you instead choose to harbor resentment against him or her for no good reason. This is a dangerous path to go down.

This can happen especially if you have just started working in law enforcement, for example. If the job is more of a challenge or burden than you would have hoped for then it can be a really difficult situation to talk with your spouse about managing those challenges within the framework of your marriage. If you are not committed to having that kind of discussion with him or her, you are creating a situation where it is easy to retreat into your world and leave your spouse behind.

Law enforcement officers can tend to become jaded over time due to the nature of their work. Constantly seeing people do things that are unethical, illegal, and downright wrong can unfortunately have an impact on how you view other people in your personal life. It can be a battle to fight the tendency to become cynical, jaded, or otherwise lose perspective on how your relationship with your spouse may be the one thing in your life that keeps you from losing all perspective. Sometimes it is the person that we are closest to that we feel like we can say and do things to them that we wouldn’t even think about doing to other people.

Have a support system and lean on them when you need help

The lone wolf motif is interesting for a movie, but it is a tough way to go through life. I don’t expect that every law enforcement officer who tends to retreat unto themselves will immediately change course, but I think it is important to point out that nobody ever said that being a lone wolf worked out better in the long run. Lean on the support system that you do have and allow them to speak into your life with encouragement and with constructive criticism.

Make no mistake relationships are a two-way street. That is why many people are not able to take what their spouses say to them as far as feedback is concerned and be fair with what they hear. Being defensive is not going to serve you well if you are at the stage of a relationship where your marriage may be ending or could be salvaged. Ultimately you are the one who can decide what direction the relationship will go based on your actions and your attitude.

It takes two to tango when it comes to saving a marriage. If your spouse is unwilling to participate in counseling or even discussion of your problems then no matter how intentional or patient you are, the marriage is going to fail. You should exhaust every resource available to you when it comes to trying to save your marriage. However, if you find that you are unable to work out your problems with your spouse you have options when it comes to legal representation in a divorce. We recommend beginning your search with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

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