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My husband’s time at the academy was hands-down one of the hardest times of our marriage – and probably one of the hardest times of my life.
The academy was about 3 hours away, so he’d leave in the afternoon on Sunday and arrive back late Thursday night (around 10-11 at night.)
And let me tell you, I lived for the weekends at that point. I was so lonely, having just moved to a new town. I didn’t get along with my in-laws, who we were living with – who happened to be just about the only people I knew. I was also pregnant and hormonal, which didn’t help things much.
From Sunday through Thursday, I felt like I was drowning. I tried to find things to do – like volunteering, knitting, reading, swimming, even quilt-making (something I haven’t done before and haven’t done since, actually.) But I was so miserable I just didn’t know how I was going to make it.
I cried all the time, slept as much as I could because I didn’t want to face anything, and was just absolutely miserable.
All this, of course, had an impact on our marriage.
While I was always happy to see him Thursday nights, I also had this incredibly strong urge to “get back at him” for leaving. It was like these two sides of myself were at war – which, again, I’m blaming some of on pregnancy.
My misery and anger and jealousy that he was getting to “have fun” away from me made it really hard to have any kind of emotional or physical intimacy.
I wish I could say I had a miraculous moment where I made my peace with things, but I didn’t. I was pretty much miserable the entire time he was gone, and had no idea what to do to make things better.
If I could go back in time and write the blog post I needed back then, this is what advice I’d give myself.
How To Survive the Police Academy Without Losing Your Mind
Pray like crazy.
This is number one. God is so invested in your marriage and your (long-term) happiness, and is always there to help you when you’re struggling – so don’t be afraid to turn to Him in even the most menial things.
I definitely found the most comfort from praying and from reading my scriptures regularly. It helped me to see glimpses of God, and to know that He was still there, even if I didn’t quite understand his plan for us.
One thing I wish I’d prayed about more often was to understand what he had planned for me, rather than just praying for the things I wanted. I think I would have been able to find happiness during that time a lot more easily if I’d been humble enough to accept I might be where I am for a reason.
Find something to get excited about.
It’s easy to get jealous of your husband doing new and exciting things constantly. That’s why you need to find something that excites you, that gets your blood pumping and makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning.
Maybe that means trying new things. Maybe you already have that thing, and you can figure out a way to invest more time in it. Either way, just find something you can be happy about.
Personally, I’ve found working out is a big endorphin-booster for me and helps me feel proud of myself, but maybe that’s not you. Maybe you’re more into crafting, or volunteering, or writing, or going sky-diving, or whatever. It doesn’t matter! Just find something that gets you going, and it’ll be easier to focus on the good stuff.
And remember, if you try something and it doesn’t work for you, try something else.
Turn obstacles into opportunities.
I recently went to a blog conference where this was said over and over and over, and I loved it. In every setback, there’s something we can learn. There’s some way we can grow.
One thing that stood in the way of my happiness during the academy was self-pity. Since we’d just moved away from all the things I was used to doing for fun, it was easy for me to wallow and say, “I can’t do x, y, or z anymore.” And when I was focused on what I couldn’t do, it took my attention away from what I could do.
So please, don’t focus on the “I can’t’s.” Don’t focus on how you wish things were different and how hard things are. Focus on what you can change and change it – and turn whatever obstacles you’re facing into opportunities to grow and change.
Give yourself a break.
Repeat after me: It is okay to struggle. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel like you’re royally sucking as a wife hey, even as a person for a minute.
It doesn’t make you less of a person. It doesn’t make you a less worthy wife. It doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a lousy marriage and a life of misery and woe.
You know what it means? It means you’re human. You’ll get through this!
Give your husband a break.
It’s easy to get mad at your husband if you’re feeling neglected while he’s at the academy. I get it. It’s taking up so much of his time and energy and feels like a second wife.
But try not to take it out on him.
Instead, ask for what you need. If it’s a game night just the two of you, do it, even if it’s only a 5-10 minute game. If you need a date night, make it happen, even if it’s just a quick dinner out. If you just need to snuggle in bed for a bit, do it.
If he’s super overwhelmed and feels like he can’t take a break? Help him make flash cards so you can spend time studying with him. Though you might want to remind him he needs R&R once in a while, too.
It might help you to know that almost all the police wives I know have said that the academy and FTO periods were the hardest times for them. So remember – it won’t always be this hard. You’ll still have your struggles, but there’s a good chance this will be the most challenging period.
So if you can get through this, you can get through a lot of other stuff 🙂
Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it.
Seriously, don’t feel ashamed if you need someone to talk to or if you need something to help improve your mood – even temporarily.
Looking back, I wish I’d known how well I respond to essential oils (like this one.) I didn’t try it until way later in my pregnancy and they made it much easier for me to manage my emotions. (But, I’m not a physician and my advice is just based on what worked for me!)
There’s nothing shameful about needing help from a professional. If you’re doing everything you can and it’s still not working? Go get help, whether it’s counseling or medication or whatever. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or not good enough. Again, it just means you’re human.
To be honest, even with how miserable I was when my husband was in the academy, I wouldn’t change if it I could. I know that experience made me so much stronger, and way better equipped for the challenges of police wife life.