Amidst all the craziness of a new baby and Kilted to Kick Cancer, I have severely neglected my regular writing here on the blog. Â I aim to change that (at least today…I’m still wicked tired).
Last night, I had the opportunity to talk with a young man who has just recently completed a year-long goal of graduating the police academy. Â During his time at the academy, this gentleman lost a total of 188.8 lbs. Â He lost more than a whole MC! Â His dedication to learning a new career while naturally losing a whole damn person during the process is nothing short of incredible.
As is with every rookie, he had a few questions for someone that’s been on the job for a bit and I was happy to listen and offer whatever advice I could. Â The interesting bit came when he was commenting on a question. Â He said something to the effect of “They” told the academy to “never take the job home” and more or less not to burden their significant other with work-related issues.
I couldn’t disagree more.
While I understand “leaving the job at the job” theory, I think not communicating with your significant other is almost tantamount to an affair.
I know what you’re thinking. Â MC, you’re crazy! Â You’re saying that not talking to your wife/husband about the job is the same as cheating on them?
Well, in a word…yup.
Hear me out. Â This is a different occupation. Â You can feel free to lump all first responders in with this one. Â It takes a special kind of person to be married to a first responder. Â There’s a reason the average number of marriages for a law enforcement officer is somewhere around 3.2. Â For people who are basically paid to communicate with others, we suck at it on the home front.
To many first responders equate their whole identity in being whatever it is they are professionally. Â All too often, we are guilty of paying more attention to our lives at work than the one at home. Â It’s like cheating on your family.
I grew up in the firehouse. Â My dad was a firefighter for 29 years. Â He was a great firefighter. Â He was (and still is) an even better dad. Â If I learned nothing else from being a firefighter’s kid, I’m glad that I learned how to communicate with those I hold dear. Â If Dad came home after a particularly brutal day, he’d share it with my mom. Â As I got older, he’d share it with me, too. Â Dad never bottled it up. Â He didn’t look for solace at the bottom of a glass. Â He looked to his family. Â The irony of my parents divorce after 25 years of marriage is anecdotal insofar as this particular topic goes. Â I can say with conviction that it had nothing to do with the job.
So, when I hear a wet-behind-the-ears rookie tell me he has received instruction to not share his professional life with his wife, I’ve got to wonder what number marriage the genius that conveyed that codswallop to him is on. Â I find it offensive that an authority figure would plant that into an all-too-impressionable ear.
I shared a story with him about when the Wife (who was the Girlfriend at the time) came to visit me at the PD. Â A supervisor pulled me aside after she left and told the following:
“Listen, I’m not sure you want to bring your girlfriend around here. Â You’re in uniform now. Â You’re a good-looking guy. Â You don’t want her running into your other girlfriend.”
He was serious. Â He was also twice divorced. Â I thanked him politely for his advice and just chuckled to myself. Â Now, I know he was trying to help…at least in his mind, so I don’t fault him for trying to look out for his people. Â I can dig that. Â But, taking marital/relational advice from him wasn’t going to happen.
I realize I am not a shrink. Â I’m not a marriage counselor. Â Hell, I’ve only been married almost seven years. Â But it’s been to the same woman who I love deeply and passionately and with whom I share everything. Â If you don’t want the Wife to know about it, do yourself a favor…keep it to yourself.
To all you rookies like my recently graduated friend, I say this. Â This job will be the greatest reward of your professional lives. Â If you bottle up your bullshit, it will eat your soul from the inside and will be the demise of the greatest reward of your personal lives…your marriages.
Before the Wife and I married, I gave her a book. Â Come to think of it, I’m not sure we’d even been dating for terribly long. Â The book is called I Love a CopÂ by Ellen Kirschman. Â If you’re a cop and you’ve been married for 23 years, do yourself a favor and read this book. Â If you’ve been married to a cop for 23 years, do the same. Â If you’re dating a cop, read this book. Â If you’re a cop and you’re getting serious, by him/her this book.
If you’re serious about your life, both professionally and privately, you’ll be as communicative with your significant other as you can be. Â Communicate like your lives depend on it, because your marital life does.
Photo credit: Flickr and P Shanks