Ways to Cope with Disconnection or Loneliness in Your First Responder Marriage to Make it Stronger Than Ever
Date:Friday August 11, 2023
Guest Post By: Rebecca Lynn, founder of the Proud Police Wife blog, book, and social channels
As high school sweethearts, I was used to being with my husband fairly regularly as we both worked a 9-5 schedule. That quickly changed when he went into the police academy, moved into Field Training and onto night shift during his first few years on the job in law enforcement.
We were young, just out college and in love, but I would be lying if I said these sudden changes to our schedule and ultimately the dynamic of our relationship were easy to navigate.
We worked opposite shifts, saw one another much less than before, and really had to be intentional with our time together. I couldn’t help but feel a bit disconnected from him and lonely at times.
16 years later, I now know we were not alone in these struggles. First responder couples deal with disconnection and loneliness regularly in their relationship and a lot of those feelings are because of spillover from the job.
The time apart, tiredness, hard calls, being exposed to trauma regularly on the job and the impact they have are just a few examples of spillover and how the job can bleed into your relationship.
While this is normal, it doesn’t mean your relationship has to struggle. Instead, recognizing what spillover is and the impact it has on your relationship or family can help minimize it.
One spouse can also experience spillover while the other spouse is left feeling disconnected or lonely.
Here are some reasons disconnect and loneliness may occur:
- Opposite schedules
- Lack of time together
- Lack of communication
- Lack of intimacy
- Lack of support from friends/family
- Struggles with connection in your marriage
As a result, you, your partner, or maybe both of you may grow to have resentment because of the job, feel alone, or even put up some emotional armor where you don’t share things like you used to.
In order to combat these feelings, one of the best things we can do is RECOGNIZE when spillover from the job is happening.
Once you recognize it, what can you do? You can implement one of the strategies below with your partner.
5 Ways to Cope with Loneliness and Disconnect in Your Marriage
1. Create a Ritual
Finding a routine or consistent activity that you and your spouse can do that builds in time together. Maybe that is drinking coffee on the porch every Sunday. Whatever it is, protect that time so it can happen routinely and allows you time to emotionally connect with phones put away.
2. Daily Check-Ins
This can be a quick 5 minute check-in where you touch base with your spouse about your day. Try to talk about more than mundane tasks like who walked the dog last. Open up but don’t allow this to be a time to pick fights or express frustrations. Try to share positives.
3. Take Ownership
If you have been grumpy, quiet or distant own up to it and apologize.
4. Tell your spouse what you need
They are not mind readers. Letting your spouse know what you need or want will take the guesswork out of things and make communication that much easier.
5. Share appreciations with one another
If your spouse does something that you appreciate, TELL them. They need to feel appreciated (and so do you). Plus, when they know you have gratitude for something they did, they are more inclined to do it again.
Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of couples, especially first responder couples deal with spillover. But recognizing when it is happening gives you the power to reduce its impact on your relationship and make it stronger than ever.