Thursday, May 27, 2010

Law enforcement spouses as seen on TV- fact or fiction?

I love cop shows. Law and Order and all it's counterparts, NCIS, The Wire, and lately I've been watching a crime drama from Lifetime called Missing. Setting aside how it's obviously a Lifetime show since it makes the FBI look overflowing with women (who wear belly baring shirts and Jimmy Choos) the one thing I loved was how little it delved into the personal lives of the law enforcement involved.

My perception on things has changed greatly since marrying a man who works in Law Enforcement. To illustrate I present the following:
  • I used to love the movie Air Force One. I just watched it for the first time since I met Bill and all I could focus on was all the Secret Service Men who were shot and killed. And then I start thinking about their wives and families at home. Actually this happens with pretty much any movie that any type of officer is killed. I didn't used to notice.
  • I hate guns. I don't like to touch them, I never wanted one in my house. Now I sleep with a loaded gun beside the bed and I don't even think about it anymore. His brother was visiting last weekend and went to wake Bill up (who sleeps until 3pm on weekends if you let him), then came downstairs and was like "I can't believe you let him keep that thing right next to the bed." I can honestly say I had on some level forgotten it was there. When we have kids obviously it will not be kept like that but for now, there's no one that is going to accidentally shoot themselves since I don't touch it.
  • My awareness of what cops are actually like and what their spouses are like.
Which leads to my complete annoyance with how they portray law enforcement spouses (and for that matter perpetuate the stereotype that all cops cheat on their wives). There are a few things that I do know-
  1. most people who go into the law enforcement field do so because they have strong opinions of what is "right" and what is "wrong." While obviously there are dirty cops and those who do cheat on their wives out there, just as many of them are willing to skewer someone for it because it's wrong. Wrong is of great significance to them. While I am sure that Bill will probably be tempted at some point in his life and while he has plenty of time out of the house and long working hours when I don't always have any idea of where he is or when he'll get home I can honestly say that I fully believe he wouldn't actually cheat. If only because of the fact that is classified strongly as wrong in his mind. He is not alone on that one.
  2. In order to be the spouse of someone in law enforcement you have to realize that you will get lonely, you will shoulder a lot of the stuff in your home and if you have kids you will been in charge of a lot more of their care. That's just a fact. Their hours are not flexible, they don't have telecommuting options, they don't always know when they will be home so I present this handy checklist for you to decide if being a law enforcement spouse is really for you-
If you want someone who will be home every single day for dinner at 6pm, do not marry a cop. If you don't want to be doing load after load of laundry just so they don't have to do it at 1am after they worked a double and have to be back in to work at 7am, don't marry a cop. If you don't want to be the one who runs all the errands from bank runs, to the bulk of the grocery shopping, to waiting for the electrician, to taking kids to Dr. Appts, do not marry a cop. If you aren't able to push aside the fact that on any given day something may go very, very wrong and the reality of your night may be very different then your morning, do not marry a cop or you will spend the rest of your life as a ball of anxiety and stress (and miserable). If you can't deal with the fact that they can't and won't always talk to you about every aspect of their work day, don't marry a cop.

These are just common sense and the vast majority of us understand these facts- so why is it that EVERY SINGLE spouse is shown as insipid whiners? None of them, if they were being honest with themselves would have passed that checklist.  It's insulting. On Law and Order: SVU Stabler's wife constantly whined that he didn't help her enough, spend enough time with the kids, that he talks to his partner more than her and never tells her about his day. I am constantly talking to the tv saying, oh so he was supposed to ignore the raped 6 year old to go home and go grocery shopping? He's supposed to give you confidential info on a file just to tell you about his day? According to your strange disillusionment of what he is supposed to be like?

I loved Missing because it never had that element... until last night when one of the character's wives locked him out of the house because he said he'd be home for dinner at 7pm and didn't show up. She locked him out of the house. Now you may not realize what this would mean, but lets say that one day I decided to throw a hissy fit and be upset that Bill said he'd be home at 7 but didn't show up until midnight, but not through words... by changing the locks while he's at work so when he shuffles home after working for 16+ hours, feet hurting and starving he realizes oh wait I can't get inside.

Then I come to the door and say "oh? are you noticing me NOW!" but still refuse to let him in and say "sleep in your car."
That would be grounds for immediate divorce because it's mean spirited, stupid, immature, whiney and quite frankly by saying "I do" to someone you know is going to work in law enforcement for the duration of your marriage you give up the right to be angry because they don't always show up exactly when they say they will.

I got even more annoyed when they had the character show up at their house a few days later (on a weekday) and she was gardening illustrating that she does not, in fact, have a job. Then she proceeded to whine about how neglected she feels and unhelpful he is.   I would like to interject here that there is nothing wrong with women not working outside of the home, in fact if you can swing it on one salary sometimes it works out better that way.  However, one of my greatest pet peeves is when a woman's sole job is the home and still expects her husband to work an outside job and then come home to contribute 50% of the household and child responsibilities.  That would be like him expecting her to do all of her job and then go to work for him 50% of the time.  Not that he shouldn't help, just that it shouldn't be expected to be even when the home IS her job.  *gets off of soapbox*

Now while I may roll my eyes from time to time while venting to my best friend about the fact that I was sick and the dishes sat in the sink for 5 days until I felt better when it comes down to it I don't really mind the work. The fact of the matter is, I work a job with set hours and am home between 4-6 every day. I can work from home when I need to and it's really no skin off my nose to run errands. Especially when the alternative is only doing my "half" and then informing my exhausted, overworked husband that he can't go to sleep because he needs to complete his "half" of the chores. Then he should go work another double on 2 hours of sleep... because that's safe.

If I were a wife from a crime drama that's apparently exactly what I should do. Or do all of it and then complain** incessantly about the life that I... wait for it... signed up for. Oh, and of course- lock him out with zero warning just to get attention.

**To be more clear when I say complain I don't mean venting here and there, or getting discouraged once in awhile. Trust me, that happens to all of us. I mean complaining to the point of extreme actions/constant whining to your spouse/constant complaining to every one around you/unhappiness to the point where it fully affects your life.


BU said...

Just hang in there until robots improve -- then Bill can telecommute every day!

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