The Six Friends Every Law Enforcement Wife Needs
Note: The term police wife is used throughout this blog and includes spouses, domestic partners, fiancees, girlfriends and significant others of police officers. An inclusive term does not yet exist and BTBL wants to ensure that all women in a significant relationship with a MN police officer feel included. We take our inclusivity pledge seriously. All photos submitted by Backing the Blue Line members and are used with their permission.
Being a woman these days is hard. Being a mother these days is hard. Being in a relationship or marriage with a police officer is hard.
AND We don't have to figure it all out alone. AND Each one of us has gifts and value that we can share with others.
Life becomes more marvelous, wondrous, meaningful and even amusing when we can share our positive moments and experiences with others. Conversely, the dark times and bad situations we encounter become more surmountable, less discouraging and overcome more fully when circled by friends who "have our six."
Prior to meeting my husband, that expression was not part of my lexicon. What does that even mean? Simply put, the person saying it is looking out for you and watching your back. Since there is a tactical flavor to the expression, it makes sense that it has been embraced by police communities to describe those who provide them back up.
From a friendship perspective, by surrounding yourself with people who have your six, you are building your own personal arsenal to overcome life's obstacles and also creating a camaraderie that will celebrate life's victories with you.
While some of us may have 500+ friends on social media I believe that we really only need these 6 friends in real life. If you have these friends in your corner, you can conquer anything life throws at you! 6. Your Police Officer Duh. It should be obvious that your law enforcement officer be on this short list of people who support, nurture and make your life better by being in it. In a great partnership, you are a team. A dynamic duo who are loyal to one another. Your person is usually the first one you want to call with good news (or bad).
You met, fell in love and decided to do this thing called life together for a reason. Your officer's love is why you got into this lifestyle in the first place and why you can't imagine life any other way now. Your officer is your protector, biggest cheerleader and best partner in crime. Of course he/she makes the list!
5. A Veteran Police Wife Maybe she is connected to someone your officer works with or maybe she's an online friend from another state that you meet in a Facebook group. However you met her, she is a valuable friend to have in your circle. She is someone who has lived this lifestyle for anywhere from 5 to 40 years. She's supported her officer through critical incidents. Maybe even an Officer Involved Shooting. She's the friend in your circle who knows how important it is to hold space for you and listen when you need to share your fears about your officer's latest call. She's also the friend who will tell you, truthfully and openly, that she's been there before and that you will survive whatever tough thing you and your officer are facing. She will indeed have some wise words of advice when you are ready to hear them.
The key to friendship with her is to reach out to her when you need her help. Just be sure that's not the only time you connect with her. She also needs to know that you see her too. Even though she's a vet to this lifestyle, we all know that there is no such thing as a routine call and even she will be rattled from time to time. She will need a friendly listening ear too. Be there for her!
And that leads me to...
4. A New Police Wife No matter where you are at on your journey as a police wife, it's so important that you make room in your circle for a new police wife. No one survives and thrives in this lifestyle alone and I truly believe that it's important to "be the friend that you wish you'd had when you were younger."
Think back to your early days as a police wife. Was someone there for you? Yes? Great. Here's your chance to pay it forward and welcome someone into the fold so she doesn't feel so lost and alone as she gets used to sleeping without her officer at night, attending school events solo and adjusting to new routines. No? Didn't have a veteran police wife friend there for you at the beginning? Great. Here's your chance to be the friend you needed back then. I still remember a moment early on after my husband moved from a Monday through Friday position in Court Security to Patrol. I texted another wife after I learned our husbands worked the same very dangerous call together. We were only casually acquainted, but we hit it off when we met and were on friendly terms. I thought that she would be the perfect person to talk with about the experience. It was really the first time I had dealt with the fallout from a critical incident. And I thought that maybe she might understand some of the emotions I was feeling. I also thought that since we had a connection through our husbands that she would also feel safe talking with me. I never received a response to that text. Not that night or even a week later. And that was hard. Really hard. At that point, I didn't really have any other police wife friends. Sure, I talked to another friend about it. And she was really supportive. Yet, it was different because she didn't have any experience with the law enforcement lifestyle. She didn't understand the nature of my husband's job or why he did the things he did or why he was in danger in the first place. She didn't fully "get it" like another police wife would. While I've totally moved on from that unanswered text, I've also been very intentional about being approachable and supportive to other police wives. 3. A Non-Police Friend Remember my other friend I mentioned above? She is a critical part of my circle. The fact that she doesn't live immersed in this lifestyle (or is even aware of many of its inherent dynamics), is precisely what makes her perspective so valuable to me. As police wives, we cannot and should not breathe law enforcement life 24/7. It's not healthy. it makes our world smaller. Your circle absolutely must include a non-police or civilian friend. Without a fresh perspective, it's easy to get mired into an "us vs. them" mentality. This friend helps keep you real and grounds you. This friend also makes sure that your weekend wear isn't only made up of blue line leggings and your favorite Backing the Blue Line sweatshirt or jacket. The value in this friendship goes both ways. Just as she is valuable to you, she receives a lot from you in return. She learns not to take law enforcement for granted. She gains some understanding about why you should keep both hands on the steering wheel when a cop approaches after pulling you over. When her child is afraid of police officers because they saw one chasing someone down the street and tackled the person in front of them, you are the friend she calls because she knows that your husband will make a special visit with his squad car and help her child understand that police officers are helpers, too. And because she is a part of the larger community your police officer serves, she is a bridge between the community and law enforcement. She can be a powerful ally during these times of anti law enforcement rhetoric and click bait headlines. This friend is worth her weight in gold, so be good to her.
2. A Connector This friend may also be friend 6, 5, 4 or 3 listed above. She is the MacGyver of your inner circle. She is your go-to when you are trying to figure out how to wash blood out of your officer's uniform shirts. You can also count on her to know the best hacks for fumigating and sanitizing a stinky vest carrier. This friend is your first phone call when you are trying to remember the name of that new restaurant everyone is raving about or which uniform store has the tactical pants your police officer needs. This friend is a social butterfly. She has friends in practically every state that you could stay with on a vacation. She also knows which statewide non-profit group has which kind of resources available to you and your family if your police officer should be injured in the line of duty.
This friend also has some great ideas about where you can volunteer during your free time while your police officer is at work. Chances are, she will suggest that you join Backing the Blue Line if you aren't yet a member. If you're already a member, this is going to be the friend that encourages you to become more active. Maybe she tags you in Facebook posts where you could be helpful to someone else or she knows you were looking for something and she thought of you when she saw the post. Maybe she encourages you to share your voice with others, because she knows that others can benefit from your story.
This friend is many things. All of them valuable. Cherish her. Be her, too.
And rounding out this list of 6 friends that every police wife needs is perhaps the most important one of all:
1. YOURSELF Look in the mirror. That gal smiling (or scowling) back at you is your biggest ally in this life. At the end of the day, you are truly the only person you can count on 100%. Others may fail you. Others may be unavailable. Others may not get it. But you? You will always be there for yourself. It's up to you to decide how supportive and kind to yourself that you are going to be.
You will stand on the shoulders of others to move forward when a goal is in sight. You will lean on others when you are too weak to stand by yourself. Other women will be there to straighten your crown when it slips a little. They will be there cheering and hooting and hollering right along side you when your police officer gets a lifesaving award, or you find out you're pregnant or you win The Biggest Loser Challenge.
Others will come and go throughout the day and the years of your life. Heck, your police officer may even go one day.
No matter what, that girl in the mirror will be there with you. Love yourself enough to treat her well and to give yourself grace. If you can do that, you will ALWAYS have at least one really good friend you can count on.
About the writer: Jamie is married to a Minnesota deputy she met at a courthouse weapons screening station. Together, they have three young sons who inspire Daddy to return home safely after each shift. Jamie currently serves as a Blue Angel with the Family Support Committee and as managing editor of this blog. She loves encouraging other women to rock the heck out of this lifestyle by sharing their talents with others. She's also mildly amused by writing about herself in the third person - because who really does that?! 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 About Us!
Not ready to make the $30/year investment in yourself and our police families just yet? That's ok! Join the Private Facebook Backing the Blue Line Group as a Supporter: We invite all MN police wives/significant others/domestic partners to join our private Facebook Group where we have united a community of 2,300+ police wives and significant others to provide a community of support through 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. Please note that it is a closed/private group due to safety and security concerns. As such, all Facebook private group members must be approved. Visit Backing the Blue Line on Facebook for information on joining.