Impact Communication in your Law Enforcement Relationship with Perspective Taking

If you want to positively impact your law enforcment marriage or police marriage, learn how to stand in each other’s shoes and take perspective.


Understanding each other’s world is really important, especially in a law enforcement relationship, police marriage, or first responder relationship. Without it, there can be a lot of conflict. If you are wondering what a woman in combat boots has to do with this post, keep reading.

Stand in Each Other’s Shoes!

A friend of mine, Ernesto, who owns, was filming a promotional video for the Code4Couples website. We went to the police department and he wanted to capture what he calls a B-Roll video. It is a background video of images you see while the narrative is going on. Ernesto wanted to capture several elements of Law Enforcement and the officers went crazy with him. They put several types of vests on him, let him hold an AR, and basically loaded him down with all the equipment they use daily. This gave Ernesto a quick snippet of a day in their shoes. It was amazing to watch because his face showed so much was expression. It was really cool to see him grow in the appreciation of who the officers are and how they function in something as simple as their daily gear.

This made me think about the fact that we (Officer and LEO wife) must have a deep appreciation for each other’s world. I’ve had my own journey to understand my husband’s world and he’s had to take time to understand mine. Early on in our relationship, one of the things that I struggled with was being alone. Here I was married but didn’t have anyone to go hang out with. I would get irritated because when he was off, I wanted to go do things and he wanted to sleep. It’s easy to get annoyed at the little things, what we don’t have, and the adjustments we constantly have to make. It’s easy to think about how it impacts us, but not to understand what the other person is feeling too. One way to do this is perspective taking.

Perspective Taking Can Positively Impact Your Law Enforcement Relationship.

There are three things that we need to consider when we are looking at being able to take perspective.

#1  We must get outside of ourselves.

Keep in mind this is hard to do when you’re experiencing emotional pain, irritation, and having different experiences. It’s easy to think about how we can be jealous of our friends doing various activities and having a “normal life.” We look at social media and start comparing ourselves to other people. It’s easy to think about how we are alone at those times or how you’re handling the kids all weekend without a break. One of the things I hate is the idea of tiptoeing all weekend and while he’s sleeping, I’m supposed to be doing some quiet activity or I’m worried about the dogs barking and waking him up. It’s easy to think about how it impacts us and not consider the other person.

#2  Staying out of comparison.

Comparison is such a killer! You look at social media and you see families being together doing weekend activities or they are doing something with their spouse, while we are alone. Stay out of comparison because this prevents us from really understanding the other person’s perspective.

“Comparison is the thief of Joy”- Theodore Roosevelt

#3  Staying out of guilt.

This is something I have heard from my LEO’s and my First Responders is that they feel really guilt about their needs. For instance, the fact that they need it to be quiet, they need to sleep, that they aren’t there to help out. This often leads to feeling guilty. Perspective taking sn’t about guilt.  It’s more about how we can share the burden instead of thinking that you need to take it all on.

When we are in the mindset of protecting ourselves, it can be really difficult to have a conversation. No matter how well we try to hide it, our frustrations ooze out. It could be through your tone, or it might be your facial expression.  Not being able to take the perspective of somebody else can lead to defensiveness and you can feel criticized a lot when somebody is trying to talk to you about their needs. Sometimes “I really need help with the chores” or “I really need help with the kids” comes out as a criticism rather than a need. In return, your spouse says, “I need to sleep so I can’t help with the kids.” The lack of perspective on each other’s needs can lead to arguments, hurt, and more poison within your relationship.

The Importance of Empathy

Part of perspective taking is your ability to empathize. Empathy is different than sympathy. Sympathy is feeling for someone as in “I feel so sorry for him because he doesn’t have time with the kids.” Empathy is feeling with someone as in “Wow that’s really hard, you are missing out on some things.” You use empathy to connect and it ultimately gives you greater intimacy and connection. Yes, that does mean sexual connection. Maybe I have your attention now? It works best when both parties decide to take on the perspective of the other. If it’s one-sided, then it seems like there isn’t mutual consideration. If you are wanting to build that connection and use perspective taking in a positive way, both parties have to do it.

If you are a spouse of an officer or first responder, you have to think about how your spouse feels. In this case, my husband and I were talking about Christmas. He said, “You know what’s worse? It’s not Christmas Day for me. It’s sitting in a patrol car on Christmas Eve.  You’re sitting there at night and looking at the Christmas lights and all you’re thinking about is how people are being with their families and how they are going to wake up Christmas morning and open presents.  That’s when it’s bad.” That’s when I realized I was only thinking about myself and the loneliness I feel.  Even talking about it now, gets me emotional. While I’ve always known that holidays are hard, my husband told me two years ago, not to ever let him spend a holiday alone. I told him okay. I won’t do it anymore because in the past I would go to my family’s because he was working. It was an agreement we had and at this point in his life, he said he didn’t want to do that anymore. I needed to keep his perspective in mind.

Also, from a spouse’s perspective, consider the inability to relax. When he’s on shift, he cannot relax. When he’s off shift, he’s constantly scanning and can’t turn it off. As a spouse, being able to see it through their eyes and say “ok I get it. It’s hard to turn off” is important. Not everyone is like that, but with my husband does a lot of OODA looping when we are in large crowds. Part of that is we both have anxiety when it comes to large crowds.

Another thing I thought about is “What is it like for him to not have ‘normal’ hours?” As a spouse, his hours are annoying.  What is it like for him to be awake when the sun is up or when the rest of the world is sleeping? What is it like for him when he is off for one day, but his body still functions like he is working the night shift? What is it like for him to be awake but, not make noise because we are sleeping? As spouses, we are bummed out a lot of times because of the time we are missing with them, but also the time they are missing with us or the kids. What does that feel like for them? It’s important to keep that perspective in mind.

Now if you are a LEO or First Responder, there are things you can consider. Specifically, what it feels like to be alone at social events and having to say, “Yeah he’s on shift.” People really don’t understand that world or the accommodations your spouse makes to be part of that world. Once again, this isn’t something to feel guilty about, it’s just to understand the perspective of what that’s like for your spouse.

What’s it’s like for your spouse to be completely responsible for the household and kids on the weekend while you are on shift? What happens when you come home and immediately go to sleep? Everyone is tiptoeing around, and the kids want to be kids. Your spouse has to try and find a way to keep the kids quiet so you can sleep! You can’t control them! While it can be annoying, it’s the understanding that your spouse is doing the best they can.

As a LEO you might consider what it’s like for you not to be present all the time. There are times when you are going to be preoccupied whether something is going on at work and you may need to be called in or you’re needing to decompress. What’s it like for your spouse to have you not able to be there emotionally or physically? Again, I need to reiterate there is no need to feel guilty or defensive. It’s about having perspective taking of what it’s like to have you present, but not be physically and/or emotionally engaged.

It is important that BOTH parties do this perspective taking because if I’m able to have your perspective and you’re able to have mine, we start to have this new synergy and new flow to our relationship. It can impact things like how I interpret what you say to me. Maybe it’s that you are tired, and I know you are tired, and you say something sharp. Then I have the perspective of “she’s been couped up all weekend and maybe that’s why she’s a little short” or it’s 100 degrees outside and he’s been sitting in a car with 25 pounds of gear on. He’s probably hot/overwhelmed. I can have a positive interpretation of that situation and that way I don’t react. Having a different perspective really helps.

It also helps to interpret behavior. I can be more compassionate for your frustration because I can see where the frustration stems from instead of thinking it’s me. It can motivate me to have a different behavior. For example, if I normally vacuum on the weekend, but you need it to stay quiet, maybe I can vacuum during the week instead. How awesome would it be if your spouse can change thoughts and behaviors because of a new perspective?

It doesn’t mean that now and then we don’t have meltdowns, but maybe our partner can have a perspective on why the meltdown is occurring and where it’s coming from without getting defensive or critical. Saying things like “yea I get it. I feel that way too” is all you need. You don’t have to have a lot of words to let people know you understand where they are coming from.

I encourage you to get curious about each other’s perspective and have some conversation around some of the bigger issues or things you don’t understand. Ask how questions and not why. Let me know perspectives that you struggle to take in your life or with your spouse. You can contact me on various social media platforms! The absolute best compliment you can give is sharing this with other people that would find it helpful. That would be amazing.

Until next time, keep your relationship Code4.


Impact Communication in your Law Enforcement Relationship with Perspective Taking

If you want to positively impact your law enforcment marriage or police marriage, learn how to stand in each other’s shoes and take perspective.