Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting Squirrely

Well, damn...looks like the Jello Tamer's marriage is kaput. It happens - A LOT - enough that when Trooper and I got serious I had a few people give me the one eyebrow look. Sure, everyone wants to marry into the Secret Squirrel Society and get the learnin'. From the outside its all sexy uniforms, badged power, and take-charge mentality. Whats not to like? Well, it can be that way for awhile. But then things start to fall apart and many, MANY marriages suffer. Hell, yeah. I know the statistics. But I also know the reason for them.

Fucking Around With Badge Whores: Lord knows I was a `ho for that damned motor unit uniform but it was HOT! My little jack booted thug...anyway, the skanks are out there and anyone who doesn't see it is a fool. If you choose to marry a guy with less sense and fewer morals this is merely the first mistake he'll make.

Not Able To Be Alone - A LOT: If you are the type that has to have attention, that lives all a-feared until Daddy gets home then this sort of life will leave you a wreck. If you can't kill that bug, investigate that suspicious noise, take that shower alone, then you will not make it. They are gone ALL THE TIME. If the salary is shit, as it is in DPS, then you can be assured that even those two off days during the week (when you are likely working and unable to enjoy with him)and the one weekend a month he has off will be spent - in part - on another job. You'd better enjoy your own company, too, because even though it's a "family", it has that same set of dysfunctional bullshit.

Dysfunctional Bullshit: You know how life is during the holidays when family gets together and crazy Aunt Barbara loses her shit or Uncle Joe smokes in the bathroom or the dog poops on the sofa to make its own point about company? Same, same...I'll be honest right here: I do not associate with any of the "wives" in his area. Used to...but they are all a couple decades younger than we are, still in their "acquire at any cost" mindset of the youth today. Be that babies (lovely little competition with - what? - 3 now changing diapers?), homes, furniture or cars. Regardless, none of them are comfy with an evening at home with the dogs and not drinking. Or just getting a cheap burger and talking hours over one iced tea after another. Hell, we LOVE beer - but it isn't required at every get together and assuredly not when one is driving - talk about a career ender. AND being a hypocrite. So, no. I've no time for that nonsense. Get back to me in about 10 years, assuming your marriage has survived.

Not Interested in Guns, Shooting, Hunting, Getting Out in Da Woods: Holy crap. How many times have I met a spouse who simply doesn't care about guns or doesn't know how to enjoy a night in the woods with a shovel for a latrine. I guess much the same can be said for military spouses. If you don't know the lingo, don't know the tools of the job, don't want to decompress well away from the people that they deal with every hour of every day...well, you might be surprised if your mate doesn't spend much time at home. They may enjoy an evening on the sofa, watching a goofy chick flick with you, quietly texting a pal about the latest SWAT callout. But you will eventually find yourself left out of, or lost in, a lot of conversations...

Listening More Than Talking: They have to deal with the most moronic and skank nasty people you can imagine all day while consistently watching to ensure they don't intend to KILL them. Now, mine has some break from that compared to the duty in Atlanta. Out here it isn't nearly as nasty. But most do work in the city and that is some bad duty. When they get home, they will - if they handle it well - want to just have some quiet time and talk through the day, relate the high or low points, get a laugh out of it and then proceed into their off-duty persona and life. It is not the time to bring up the broken shower fixture, the dirty diapers, the garbage that needs to go out or how you need a new dress. In short, it is not about you. If you cannot STFU for 30 minutes at a stretch then please subject yourself to a different kind of person.

Accept That You Will Not Always Be Happy: Well, this is a tough one. People are told so often that they deserve to be happy, it's not right that someone harshes their divine mellow because they are SPECIAL. If answered truthfully, many of the guys (and gals, yes) will admit that they love their work possibly more than they love their homelife. You may just come in second to the job. I'll be the first to admit that there are many times that I get angry because I cannot plan a simple holiday - one day a year - and KNOW that he'll be off. I can't even plan for his long weekend because the schedule is issued about a week before the start of the month and several constraints (like maternity leave and training) can impact it with little notice. I get angry, yes. I am a planner. I need to know, in advance, where we will be so I can tell others of the plans. This means that I am often disappointed. Vacations? Are you nuts? My coworkers can look at a July and know they will be off for a particular set of days. We have to wait until the schedule comes out, look for the 4-day weekend, and hope like hell the budget permits something. It hasn't in a few years. So you settle for those cheap burgers and long chats with good friends. Hell, you might even live large and have a beer at home since you won't be on-call. Yes, you will be angry. You will often be disappointed. Your spouse won't be able to do a goddamned thing about it. You will have to work doubly hard to not blame them.

Homelife? What homelife?: All that segues nicely into the basic fact that some forces are not on a set schedule. I have to look at a damned spreadsheet everyday to know when to make dinner. His schedule moves from pre-dawn duty to post-dinner duty throughout the month. If he has an FTO, I might not see him at all unless we have the trainee in for dinner. And not all of them are the kind you want to entertain. We've been pretty fortunate in that regard so I've set a table for 3 fairly often. When he is home he sleeps. If he isn't sleeping or getting ready to go on, he is trying to fit in a workout so he can stay in decent shape to fight off the bad guys. Fitting in any home maintenance or chores or shopping trips is difficult. You will be on-call for all that sort of thing 90% of the time. They mean well, I assure you. They want to get that light fixture mounted for you. But it isn't a priority. Which means that if it is something you really need to have done you'll have to make that clear to them, or do it yourself - or hire someone else to do it. That last can also be problematic...

Secured Access: Not just anyone is let into the sanctum sanctorum. Even if you have the funds for a maid service, good luck getting that approved...strangers are simply not a good idea. We all want to think that you can trust most people but the truth is that each Trooper has a bounty on their badge. Access to their home, their schedule, their whereabouts and peccadillos is verboten. You may want to have that Book Club meeting at your home but unless you are all "family" you may receive the Eyebrow Of Doubt. Add in that you will likely have a weapon in every room when at home and you will find that people who are not "squirrel friendly" will have something to say about it. And they may say it to someone who won't be against trying to get at the supply line.

Kids? You're kidding, right?: Get a big dog first. Try that out for about a year. Please.
Even if I could have children I would still have to give it deep thought. Admittedly, I am a "have kids, stay home and raise them, please" type. I don't care which one of you does - I simply detest the packing up of ones precious minds and handing them over to people who make minimum wage. So assuming you have to work...are you ready to do everything? Caring for the house, the cars, the pets, AND the kids? After a full day at work? Because you will. Oh, they'll try to help. But go ahead and look at that Homelife topic. Those that do make it work are absolute gods. And likely exhausted. Make them a lasagna, won't you? I cannot even imagine...anyway, it'll all be on you so suck it up, do the job and don't complain or don't have kids. Yeah, I'm a bitch like that. Sorry.

Well, there you have it - my gentle advice for anyone thinking about entering into the society. And all this assumes that your beloved is a REALLY DECENT sort and not one of those off-kilter power mongers who can't wait to tell YOU what to do, too. The job can attract a lot of bad people. We see them in the news all the time. The odds of finding the sincere and decent members are moderate.

And if they are already married? Please - don't feed into that. Send them home to deal with it - either with honest appraisals of themselves or divorce papers. Because there is a spouse hoping they will get home safe, not even thinking that they might be looking for a reason to not go home just yet.

Jesu - I almost forgot. LEOs need to be just as cautious in their choice of mate. Good LORD, how many times have I seen them pick the worst possible option - "she doesn't like guns or talking about my job and that's a relief!" - uh, yeah. I think the real relief is that she's young, pretty, and thinks you are all-powerful. That will wear off for both of you in short order.

Be wise. Know that a marriage is often just like a job - it requires work, respect for each other, kindness and politeness when you really want to throw a stapler at their head, as well as an ability to accept disappointment. Sometimes you won't even like each other. And sometimes even the love you had at the start has to be sanded down and refinished, having tarnished over the years. Sometimes you will have to be the cheerleader, bringing low spirits up when you know that there is a reason for low spirits and you'd just as soon wallow in them, too. And if you happen to have that cheerleader outfit already? Hey, win-win, my friend...now, I wonder where he put those motor boots?....

7 comments:

Ed Rasimus said...

Virtually every Fighter Pilot I know is on his second wife. Your posting would have made great mandatory reading for prospective spouses back in the day. We grow up and make better choices and the women who deal with us understand what they are getting into. Many careers are like that and immaturity is a factor for all of them.

RD said...

Good Advice.

Six said...

Wow Laura. What a great post. Ed said it best, this should be required reading for all police and military spouses, on both sides.

I got lucky (or was heavenly blessed depending on your beliefs) when I married Lu. We learned all the things you wrote about through sometimes bitter, sometimes hilarious experience. She was both a soldier and cop's wife.

32 years on. I'm retired now and we're spending all that time we missed together. It's an investment and like any such the payoff is long term but so worth it. The sacrifices we made don't seem so difficult when viewed through the lens of present contentment. We made it.

Lu was always my defender. In her view if you didn't like me or what I did you could piss off regardless if you were family, friend or stranger and I loved her fiercely for it. It takes a strong person to be married to such as we but when it's right it's so very good.

Lu read your post and I watched her smile knowingly and nod her head. Yeah, I'm a lucky man and so is Trooper but I promise you and Lu that he and I know it.

LauraB said...

Thanks, Ed - I always feel badly for good men who make bad decisions. What matters is that they learn from them...

Hey, RD - thanks for dropping by. Honored...

Hey, Six - you give me hope, let me tell you. If you and Lu can manage all those years I reckon we can make it through the coming storms, too. Good men need defenders. Far too many would like to see them fail.

Scott said...

Wow - that all was very familiar, just from a different angle. My Dad was a Trooper, so I come at it from the kid angle rather than the spouse angle, but I sure lived a lot of that stuff, especially how dealing with the dregs of society day in and day out created the attitude in him that everyone was trying to put one over on him or get out of something - it certainly affected his relationships with everyone. Still is in many ways, even though he is long since retired.

I agree with the earlier comment that said this should be required reading for everyone considering being involved with an LEO.

LauraB said...

Hey, Scott - yes, it takes a really strong person to leave the BS of the job at the door...Trooper has this amazing ability to slough it off. I give the credit to his very difficult military experiences - kind of puts everything in perspective...but he still struggles with things. I hope your Dad will let it all go, now...

Ed Rasimus said...

Am I beginning to glimpse some Santini here?