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THE HIDDEN RESOURCE
Despite all the attention paid to the stress of a police officer's job, the fact is that most intense and potentially destructive stress an officer faces involves his or her own family conflicts. The disruptive effects of stress which arise in encounters on the streets are occasional and limited in duration. The stress generated by unresolved marital problems is a daily corrosive element which drains an officer's ability to function effectively.
Stress and Marriage
The importance of a stable home life to a police officer's career is widely recognized; however, few police departments have backed up this fact with systematic programs aimed at reinforcing the family unit. Chronic marriage conflicts are usually the result of a person under stress reacting inappropriately in a blind attempt to reducing emotional pressure. The self-defeating nature of this reaction is seen in the fact that although the anger reduces the individual's stress by allowing him or her to vent their feelings, the consequences of alienating or frightening one's family rebound at them in terms of their retaliation or eventual withdrawal.
Whether this reaction comes in the form of passive coolness or angry attacks, the officer finds themselves in a cycle of endless conflicts in which one day's bitter encounters are related to the previous day's misunderstandings. Over a prolonged period, this type of marriage degenerates into an adversary relationship in which both parties find themselves always defensive or angry at each other, yet neither party can any longer identify exactly why they are fighting almost daily.
It would be a mistake to conclude that police officers have more frequent or more severe marriage problems than persons in other professions. Because of the nature of police work, however, the amount of unresolved stress, from whatever source, is a critical matter. Unrelenting, excessive stress has deteriorating effect upon judgement, emotional control, logical thinking ability, and accuracy of perception. In most jobs, the deterioration of these faculties in a worker will have no great consequences. In the case of a police officer, such a situation becomes a matter of vital concern. It is apparent, then, that for a police department to direct its attention to the issue of chronic marriage problems is not an intrusion upon an officer's privacy, but is rather a legitimate and important area in which a department must try to be of service to its officers.
Things To Keep In Mind
Officers don't like to share things with their spouses. Communication is the most important part of any relationship. Take the time to talk with your spouse and your children. Our families are our greatest support! God knows, we need all the support we can get.