5 Ways to Bulletproof Your Marriage
I’m not a marriage expert. I’m not a therapist.
I’m just a police wife with almost eight years of experience. (Or eleven if you count the three years we lived in sin prior to getting married.) Basically, I’ve spent over a quarter of my life with my guy.
Does his job as a law enforcement officer impact our marriage? Absolutely. There’s the rotating shifts. Weekends at work. Missed events. Logistics to manage. Career that took a backseat to his. Close calls that could have easily taken him away from us.
Does it define our marriage’s success or failure? No way.
Because there are also many moments of gratitude, pride in his service to others, closed doors that turned into windows, increased self confidence as I’ve rocked the crap out of the hard things that needed to be done and the zest that comes with living in the moment.
This isn’t a dissertation with statistics. This is just a few strategies we use to keep our partnership and love strong.
One: Talk with Your Partner Communication is key for us. Over time, we have learned that expecting the other person to be a mind reader doesn’t work. When we don’t openly share what we need or want from each other, we end up with misunderstandings, hurt feelings and wasted time.
If we are talking and one of us feels like the other doesn't understand the other person because they are hinting at something or not being direct, we will literally say “Hey! I’m not a mind reader. Just tell me what you want.” That’s our signal to one another that 1) we are trying our best 2) we still need more from our parter and 3) we want to hear what the other person needs from us. Since we started saying that when conversations get muddy, we are better able to meet each other’s needs. We stay connected throughout the day when we are apart. Brief phone calls or quick text messages during breaks have been a lifeline for us. Sometimes we send each other random news stories because they made us think of each other or links to stupid viral videos. Other times, we communicate via emojis. The best thing ever is to find a way to work the green T-rex or red haired mermaid into a our conversation.
Two: Laugh and Play Together When we got married, John wrote his vows to me. He promised that he would find a way to make me laugh at least once a day. Looking back, I appreciate so much that he had the foresight to know how important it is to have a sense of humor in marriage. And you know what? He has kept that promise. Even when his jokes are kinda lame, I still laugh because I know he takes our vows seriously.
Photography credit: Leah Fontaine Photography
Play isn’t just for the kids! Get active together doing something silly. Do something that will make you both laugh. Or laugh when things are just ridiculous. Like when you are getting family photos and everyone (except you, of course) is losing their minds!
Photography credit: Melissa Soto Photography
Bust out a favorite board game, a favorite beverage (adult or g-rated) and engage in some healthy competition. Life is serious. Marriage doesn’t always have to be.
Taking the kids to the park? Play some good old fashioned Hide and Seek or Chase. Winner gets a kiss. You give and receive affection and your kids see a set of parents who have fun together. Win-win!
Three: Dream Together We share the same dreams for our future as a couple and as a family. We also have individual dreams we are pursuing. We talk about them often. Sometimes those talks are verbal daydreams where we explore the possibilities. Other times, those talks are a gauge for where we are really at and what steps we need to take to reach another dream.
We talk about the timing of certain things. We make decisions about where to put our resources of time, money and energy. We figure out which short term sacrifices are worth the long term goal.
We learn about each other.
I’ve learned that my husband is truly a visionary. Several of the things we dreamed about 10 years ago have come true or are currently in the works. He is incredibly driven and focused.
Have we been disappointed when a cherished dream fell apart? Of course. Several years ago, we looked at a lake place with a little cabin and a few tall pine trees. We fell in love with it. But it wasn't meant to be. And losing it really stung. With time, we’ve gotten over the loss of that place and are deep into making plans for our forever home. A home that will be a place of comfort and warmth for our aging parents and our boys, including one with special needs.
Photography credit: Melissa Soto Photography
I’ve learned a lot about myself, too. I learned that when I stay true to my inner self and find ways to do what makes me happy, I’m the best version of myself. I’m a better wife and mother when my dreams are fed a little bit. For many years, I’ve dreamed of writing books. Being a working mama of three young boys does not leave me the time that I need to write to make that dream come true.
Yet. I found a way to nurture my soul in the meantime until our boys gain a little more independence. I carve out time each week to write for this blog and encourage my Backing the Blue Line sisters in their dreams of writing. My husband supports my dreams in this area and helps me make it work. Even though my big dream is still a little out of reach at the moment, I know it will come true. In the meantime, I will be grateful for my hubby for loving me so well and encouraging me. And I’ll continue to cheer on the blue ladies living their dreams today.
Four: Remember What Brought You Together
Think back to “the good old days” when everything together was fresh and new. Close your eyes and picture what your person looked like the first time you met them. What happened when you kissed for the first time. Think about the things that attracted you to him or her in the first place.
Our love story began one random Monday morning at a courthouse weapons screening station. Not even kidding. I looked up from my Diet Coke while I waited my turn to go through the employee line. I saw this cute guy with brown hair and a big grin greeting every single person with a kind or funny word. It stood out to me because a lot of guys in uniform assigned to that post were quiet and sometimes appeared to be wishing they were somewhere else. But here was a guy who was having fun with it and going out of his way to give people a nice start to their day.
Cheesy? Maybe. But I was so struck by how well he treated people and loved his job so much it didn’t matter where he was assigned. Ironically, he doesn’t remember that specific historical encounter. When we first started dating, we went four wheeling. A lot. We explored hundreds of miles of trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin together and sometimes with his dad. Those weekends seeing the rough beauty of the northern wilderness and breathing in the fresh pine air are still some of my very favorite memories to this day.
We really got to know each other well on those trips. After a long day on dusty or muddy trails, we’d head back to our hotel room and take hot showers, ease our aching muscles before grabbing dinner and snuggling up to watch movies.
There are a few very steamy showers that I will never forget. And that leads me to....
Number 5: Have Sex, Lots of Sex Yes. I’m going there. No, that's not us. I wish. Look at her gorgeous hair!! #stockphotoforthewin
Having sex and having it often has been a key part of keeping us close and connected. Literally. But don't take it from me. My good buddy George said/sang it best: “It’s natural
It’s chemical (let’s do it)
Habitual (can we do it?) It’s sensual
But most of all Sex is something that we should do
Sex is something for me and you” George Michael
We’ve never taken the Love Languages test, but I know that my husband’s love language is touch. I know that he needs it and craves it to be happy. I know that it grounds him. It relaxes him. It builds up his confidence.
I’m just going to say that I like it a lot, too. We are pretty compatible in that department. I mean, we did have three kids in quick succession. ;-) It has definitely changed for us through the years, pregnancies and years of child rearing. Again, this is an area that we’ve learned more the longer we’ve been together. We used to have long nights of fun where neither of us slept and we could do it anywhere in the house at anytime. Now we’ve learned that quickies in the morning before the kids wake up can be a fun jump start (see what I did there?) to the day.
We’ve also figured out how to make time for it within our crazy schedule. We’ve also gotten a little creative while the kids sleep. Have you ever tried Ninja Sex? Do. It. Now. You’ll thank me later.
And then there’s the Thank-God-You-Made-It-Home-Alive sex. This is truly a special kind that’s happened after he survived critical incidents. It’s the kind where you can’t stop clinging to one another because you know that life is fragile and is altered in an instant.
We are responsible to each other to keep our marriage bulletproof. And by that I mean committed and able to overcome anything we encounter that may damage it. That damage can be caused by many things: little time together, miscommunication, stress, lack of a support system, complacency or not enough intimacy. By arming ourselves with the tools that work for us, and finding new tools when needs change, we are keeping a bulletproof marriage.
Enough about us. What are YOUR best tips for a bulletproof marriage?
About Backing the Blue Line services: BtBL provides support to MN Law Enforcement Officers and their families by maintaining a list of professional and confidential resources available for those that need it. The list includes marriage and family counselors who have experience specific to law enforcement dynamics. Paid members of Backing the Blue Line also have access to special discounts for some providers. You can access the Members Only area of this website by using the password provided in your membership confirmation email.
About Membership in Backing the Blue Line: We invite MN police wives/significant others to become members of Backing the Blue Line to take advantage of all available membership benefits and have additional opportunities to give and receive support. We also invite MN police wives/significant other to join our private Facebook page, which is an community of support offering friendships, networking, and discussion. It is also for raising awareness of the need to support our unique lives and share the bond that comes with being a law enforcement family. Find out more on our About page.
About the writer: Jamie has been married to her LEO for seven years and together they have three young sons. She currently serves as a Regional Blue Angel for Isanti County and as the Marketing Committee SubChair managing the content and writers of this blog. She is a working mama, writer for Twin Cities Moms Blog, professional photographer and loves encouraging police families to enjoy the very best of this unique lifestyle.