Must have Conversations for Every Law Enforcement Couple

My husband and I were super naive when it came to understanding how his job was going to impact our relationship. I saw it as a career path, just like any other. I mean, sure, there was danger and shift work, but what more could there be?

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My husband and I were super naive when it came to understanding how his job was going to impact our relationship. I saw it as a career path, just like any other. I mean, sure, there was danger and shift work, but what more could there be? No one told us what to expect or how to make sure our relationship stayed solid. As a couple new to law enforcement, I wish someone would have told us some basics. Amber Smith is a police spouse and counselor with a passion for educating new first responder couples.  She and I sat down and had a conversation on some of those basics that new and tenured police couples need to know.

“Most new couples don’t know how to prepare for this career.” -Amber Smith

Law Enforcement Finance Challenges

As a new officer and spouse, the career can change your finances due to extra opportunities outside of work to increase financial gain. It is important to have a financial discussion and determine the foundation of your budget. Make the decision to structure it on the salary and NOT on overtime.

AMBER SMITH TALKS ABOUT THE 4 CONVERSATIONS THAT EVERY LAW ENFORCEMENT COUPLE MUST HAVE FOR A CONNECTED AND RESILIENT RELATIONSHIP.

When you base your budget on overtime, it means spending more time away from your family, and more physical and mental damage on your overall wellbeing. Financial health is important to relational health and resiliency, so ensure there are healthy boundaries around finances.

Decompression Ritual for First Responders

Reintegration into family life post-shift requires careful consideration and what it looks like for your family. Think of Mr. Rogers. When he came in from the outside, he changed his shoes and his cardigan. That signaled he was transitioning into being in his home space. Find a ritual that allows you space to decompress from the job. This process will let your family know that any potential silence from you is not a reflection of them rather it is you honoring and allowing yourself to come down from the hypervigilance cycle and decision fatigue to be present at home. If there isn’t a transition from work to home, it can create isolation or silence.

“Isolation is what makes mental health symptoms deadly.” -Amber Smith

Law Enforcement Communication and Activation Points

In addition to a decompression ritual, make sure you’re communicating with your partner in a way that isn’t triggering or emotionally activating for either person. Discuss and do an inventory of activation points. Recognizing these points allows for deeper compassion and understanding within the relationship. When sharing details about your shift, decide with your partner how much and what is appropriate to disclose. Protecting your spouse from details may be admirable but has negative potential consequences. It is robbing your partner of the power to decide that boundary for themselves and the opportunity to provide support. Open the conversation with each other and have a plan around communication. Engage in open dialogue and develop a communication plan that may include external support for instances where sharing with family might be overwhelming.

Every new couple in law enforcement should be having these types of conversations and continually revisiting them throughout the career because these things are going to shift. Having these conversations on a regular basis, leads to having a stronger, committed, connected, and resilient relationship.

Amber is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington State. She received her Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University in 2013, and is currently working on her Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy from National University. Amber is the owner and clinical director of Found Therapy Services, where she and her team serve the law enforcement and first responder community.  She is married to a police officer and together they have four dogs.

Found Therapy Services

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Must have Conversations for Every Law Enforcement Couple

My husband and I were super naive when it came to understanding how his job was going to impact our relationship. I saw it as a career path, just like any other. I mean, sure, there was danger and shift work, but what more could there be?

Share:

Share:

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