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While my husband didn’t get into law enforcement until after we were married, I can remember very well feeling left out when we were “just” boyfriend and girlfriend. We’d talked about marriage a lot before getting engaged (after all, we dated for about 3 years before tying the knot.)
I remember how frustrating it was when friends and family would discount our relationship: when family would lay claim on his time, guilting him and reminding him that I wasn’t family, and they were. That they needed to come first.
And, of course, I wasn’t dealing with the stress of someone who regularly put their life on the line.
I can only imagine how much more frustrating the pre-marital stage of questioning and discounting must be when you’re also dealing with the fact you can’t kiss your LEO right when he gets home – that instead of the comfort of him walking through the door at night, you have to rely on a text message saying they got home safe (and if they’re anything like my husband, they’re not great about texting.)
It hurts when you don’t have the privilege of seeing him off to work. When you don’t see him at all when he works night shifts and just have to rely on a text or two midday before he gets up, goes to work, and repeats his whole routine all over again.
Married or not, when you’re in love with a police officer, a piece of your heart is going out the door every day into dangerous situations. You have dreams and plans and commitments together. You’re still an important part of your significant other’s life.
So how can you make the most of this awkward in-between stage?
How To Deal With Being “Just” The Girlfriend
Find friends who understand.
I know it can be hard to talk to friends who don’t have significant others in law enforcement, but it’s a great place to start. Even if you’ve felt uncomfortable in the past talking to them because you feel they won’t understand, just give it a shot.
The key to this is sometimes knowing who’s good to talk to and when. I know I have certain friends I prefer to go to for certain things – if I seek them out for advice on other things, it leaves me irritated/disheartened. It’s not that they’ve necessarily done anything wrong, they just aren’t knowledgeable (or helpful) on that particular subject.
Online groups are a great place to start. But I know that can be tough, because some police wives get “elitist” about who’s going through a harder time. I’m not really sure why people do this. The truth is, we’re all fighting a battle. We shouldn’t be arguing about who has it the hardest: we should be focusing on helping each other out.
(In that vein, if there’s enough interest, I may consider making a group of my own. Let me know :))
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to other girlfriends/wives in your boyfriend’s department. Even if you don’t have marriage in common, you can still find ways to be friends!
It’s uncomfortable to reach out to new people, but just start by being a friend. If you hear someone is going through a hard time, bring something nice (like cookies). Or just invite them to lunch, or offer to bring over dinner, or even babysit their kids to give them a break, if applicable.
Go to department activities to get to know people. Even if you’re more of an introvert, being involved will help them to see you as someone they need to welcome into the “family” and less of a casual acquaintance.
Don’t let other people get to you.
If someone says something rude to you (whether they intended it that way or not), do your best not to let it get to you. Because if they meant it rudely, it reflects poorly on them, not you (and probably means you wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway.) And if they didn’t mean it rudely, well, everyone makes mistakes.
I know it’s easier said than done, but try to think like a duck and let it roll off your back.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t address it, by the way. I wasn’t always this way, but since becoming a mom I’ve become a lot more direct. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling someone that something they’ve said/done hurt your feelings. It’s all about tact.
But really, it all boils down to the fact that you can’t control what other people say/do to you – you can only control how you respond.
Instead of focusing on their rudeness, focus on and hold tight to what’s important/what you know – that the love you and your significant other have for one another is real. Then spend some time with your real friends who are a little more understanding (see point #1 :))
Enjoy the stage you’re in.
I know you hate hearing this. I know I hated hearing it (and still do.) But there is actually a lot of wisdom in this, even if it’s not the most “fun” advice.
Because I don’t mean it to discount your struggles. Enjoying the stage you’re in isn’t about denying hard times. It’s just about realizing that, while you can yearn for the past or the future, the only thing you can do anything about is the present.
It’s also important to realize that while things get easier later on, but they also get much harder in other ways.
Before you know it, the freedom you have right now will be gone. Enjoy the fact that you can do what you want for a bit. That you can go anywhere, at any time, without having to be accountable to anyone.
Enjoy that for now, you don’t have to deal with teething, middle-of-the-night feedings, or negotiating with a toddler about the importance of wearing a diaper.
I love being a wife and a mom, but I’ll admit there are times I yearn for the downtime I had when I was single and childless. I remember when I was single and I could make middle-of-the-night runs to 7-11 for some nachos without anyone judging me, then sleep in until noon the next day if I wanted to (as long as I didn’t have to work.) Those were some good times.
My point is, try to focus on the good stuff in your life right now. You can dream about and prepare for the future, but don’t let it overshadow (or detract from) the present. If you can get in the habit of making right now the best time of your life, of making the things you have in your life everything you need, you’ll be so much happier.
After all, if this relationship does go the distance, this awkward, in-between will be a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things.
Tell me: What’s your favorite thing about being a police girlfriend?
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