This post is written by Stephanie Erb.
There are a lot of battles you fight as a police wife: police equipment everywhere, a 24/7/365 schedule, an overwhelming fear when I do not hear from him for hours … but the most stubborn one is the work phone.
Most people in the world see smartphones as a convenience. I see it as my enemy. I often feel like I am fighting for attention and my opponent is 5″ tall and 3″ wide. Having the requirement to carry this phone and answer it is bad enough, but then there are the emails, the text messages, and all the other potential distractions smartphones come with.
No matter the time nor place, that phone can ruin all our best laid plans. We could be arriving at my parent’s house for Christmas Eve dinner then his phone rings. Next thing I know he is gone off to work and me and our two dogs are stranded.
The phone can’t even have a pleasant ringtone, because the whole point is that it gets your husband’s attention. My husband’s sounds like an air horn at a football game. The kind that are meant to be heard over the cheering of thousands of fans is now in my bedroom. It’s loud and annoying enough to wake me up even from the deepest of sleeps.
And the flashing lights? I’m always hopeful nobody near us has any sort of seizure disorder, because it’d be dangerous . And they always end up pointed my way.
Even more upsetting than the startle I get from the light and sound of the phone is the emotional dump I immediately go through when it goes off. I know that no matter what the conversation is, it will have an immediate effect on my husband, our day, and, of course, me.
The effect on our world could be as small as my husband spending a few minutes venting about the call, or as big as a whole day (or several days) worth of plans going down the drain.
The big problem is, crime doesn’t follow a schedule. It’s not like work will wait for him like it might at an office, so it’s unrealistic to declare full digital lockdown at home. It’s just not going to happen.
However, there are so many things that separate us from our police husbands that if we can show that phone who’s really in charge, it’ll be one less threat to our family and marriage.
3 Ways to Win The Fight Against Your Husband’s Work Phone
By being honest with our husband we stand a chance to win the fight. I have a bad habit of saying to myself, “it’s not a good time, he is trying to sleep”, or “But we’re having such a good day! Why mess it up?”
The truth is, there is never a good time for the harder conversations. We just have to do it.
Set (Realistic) Limits
When trying to better regulate cell phone use, you have to be realistic and understand that most of the time, he may have to keep that ringer on.
However – an emergency is not going to come through via email. So it absolutely is possible for him to just keep the ringer on and get rid of the rest of the distractions, at least for a little bit.
Also think about what limits you should have when your husband is home – do you spend too much time on your phone
One other thing my husband and I have had to set limits on is the annoying-ness of his phone. I mentioned before the fog horn and strobe lights I get attacked with in the middle of the night. I asked my husband what the purpose of the flash was, and as it turns out there really wasn’t one other than “it’s fun.”
After finding out that I did not have fun with the blinding strobe light it was promptly deactivated. We were able to compromise by him losing his fun disco lights and me still dealing with the “fog horn”.
Establish consequences for if you or your husband is a violator of the limits (or breaks down on a “digital fast day”. They can be fun ones, but what are rules without consequences?make there be consequences,. For example, if you go to a movie and you catch him checking his work phone, he owes you a 15 minute massage. But if you break it? You owe him a massage.
You could also assign each other cooking duty, dish duty, or whatever. Just make them motivating – whether it’s because they’re fun (like the massage) or because they’re genuinely something you don’t want to do (like dishes).
As police families, we spend enough time apart. Let’s not let electronics be another thing that keeps us apart 🙂