Booze and babes: How to have a balanced home life
I was once told the fastest way to lose your badge and home life was by partaking in the two B's: Booze and Babes
By Sgt. Barry Evert
I was once told the fastest way to lose your badge and home life was by partaking in the two B's: Booze and Babes. I have concentrated so much on officer issues I have left out the other half of the team: the spouses that support us quietly from the sidelines. I want to take the time to touch on the "two B's" from both an officer's perspective, and the perspective of an officers' spouse.
When you start your career in Corrections, or any Law Enforcement agency, you see a new world; a world where you have great authority and much more responsibility than ever had before. With this newfound power comes many pitfalls.
We see a lot throughout our careers. Most of what we see is not positive. We walk into an environment where everyone we meet is either an officer or a convicted felon.
There are good guys and bad guys, black or white. We see the atrocities of human behavior on a daily basis, and often, the bloody results of confrontation.
I will never forget the first time I saw a dead person. An inmate died only a foot away from me with his throat slit. If that doesn't drive a person to drinking, what would, right? Couple this with a 70 percent divorce rate and a 17 in 1000 suicide rate, and we have even more reasons to drink. What may start innocently enough as a drink after work can easily become a way of life.
Over the years I watched night shift officers tell stories of how they would have a drink after their shift, usually at 6 a.m., to help them sleep. I shirked it off, glad to know that I would never be that person.
Years later, I found myself in the same position. It is easy to fall into the clutches of alcohol. No matter what the excuse, the bottom line is the same: You will lose your job or family eventually because of your behavior.
Sure we can talk about how the things we see drive us to drinking. The things we do drive us to drinking; or even the stress of the job will drive us to drinking. The bottom line again is that it is your responsibility to take charge of your life.
I can hear the chuckling in the audience now. We all know the officers who seem to get remarried at a rate that would even cause pause to a maharaja with a harem. This is not exclusive to men either; there are plenty of female officers that behave in the same manner.
For some reason, there is a segment of the population affectionately called "badge bunnies" that love to have relationships with officers. Quite often, and again, gender is not an issue here, the "badge bunnies" don't care if you are married or not.
I have seen many officers fall into this trap. The worst seems to be right at work. We have all seen officers leave their spouse for a fellow officer of the opposite (or same) sex, thinking that this person will understand them better than their spouse.
This line of thinking is selfish and ridiculous. As you read my address to your spouses, you will understand what I mean. There is an old saying, "Don't dip your pen in the company ink." It is critical to find a way to keep your home and work life separated enough to where you can enjoy a normal existence outside of work.
Having said that, I know several couples who are both officers that are quite happy; just know that they are the minority. One of the beauties of having a spouse who does not work where you do is that you can lean on them for support. Many times when both spouses work as officers, that support system either disappears, or work is all that you have to talk about.
At the end of the day, never forget what is waiting for you at home, and keep your uniform on until you get home to your spouse.
You have the toughest job. Whether you wanted to or not, when your spouse signed up for the department, so did you. You have to understand that the work we do is not normal. Normal people do not go into a facility of 200 convicted murderers, and tell them what to do. Normal people do not throw themselves into a huge riot to protect their partners. Normal people do not have a job that may require them to take a life someday.
I know what you are thinking: "I am not my spouse's babysitter!" Guess what, there is a reason this expression is so common: It happens all the time. It is easy for any officer to fall into the trap of alcohol.
Know first that it is not your lack of support that causes the officer to fall into this trap. As I explained earlier, it is the officers' personal choices that lead him/her down this path.
Please take the time to monitor this without coming across as "nagging." There are a lot of resources out there to help you cope with someone in the clutches, or on the border, of alcoholism. Al Anon is a great resource, and if you are not sure what the guidelines are, I encourage you to check this site out.
If your spouses' drinking makes you uncomfortable, call them on it. As officers, we are used to being talked to in a certain way, and often only respond to this type of conversation. Take the time to care, even if it is the hard thing to do. You did sign up for the department, and you must ensure the health of your family and way of life. Is this an unfair burden? Perhaps, but it is yours to bear.
There is no excuse for infidelity...ever. This is the bottom line for most married couples. Alternative lifestyles aside, it is the way most of us imagine married life to be…one person, one partner, forever. The officer you are married to will be exposed to an enormous amount of testosterone. Not only that, but the aforementioned "badge bunnies" will always be lying in wait for that moment of weakness. Again, it comes down to the officer's decision to be loyal or not.
More often than not, you will find most officers to be incredibly loyal to their spouses. Having said that, make sure that your spouse understands your position on this issue without a doubt.
Also be open enough to allow him/her to tell you about a situation where they were confronted with an uncomfortable situation involving the opposite sex.
They are trying to share with you that they have been loyal, and will not stray from your marriage. Do not misinterpret this as a threat or a boast, it is simply meant a badge of their commitment to you. The last thing you want is the officer to begin to hide these inevitable experiences from you and become ashamed of them to the point where they feel unsupported at home.
The bottom line
Officers, keep your uniforms on until you get home; spouses, be there to listen whenever possible. It was never the intention of either party to be signed up for the same job even if only one person works, but this is the reality of what we do.
No excuses can be made for bad behavior, but it is critical that you both understand where you stand as a team. Share with each other, and be honest, and your home life will be safe from the evil we work around. As always, watch your six and be safe.
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