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I think we can all agree that it takes WORK, actual work, to keep the connection going in our marriages especially around shift work. What was once super easy when you first dating, maybe isn’t always the same anymore because well life happens. You get immersed in your jobs, have kids, more household duties, you grow older and get used to the mundane.
And it’s no secret that first responder marriages are faced with more challenges compared to others couples. I’ve talked about that before with some past guests like Taya Kyle and Susan Simons. If you haven’t checked out those past episodes be sure to do that.
Personally, I was pretty used to being with my husband fairly regularly as we both worked a 9-5 schedule. That quickly changed a lot he went into the police academy, moved into Field Training and eventually begin night shift.
Once that happened we worked opposite shifts, saw each other much less, and really had to be intentional with our time together. Because of this I couldn’t help but feel a bit disconnected from him and lonely at times.
It took work to figure out why we felt disconnected and what we could both actively do to keep that fire going. Mostly, it was due to his schedule and lack of time together.
Here’s the thing: we are not alone in these struggles. Any couple, first responder or not, deals with rough patches where we have to work to keep the fire burning. My friend and fellow first responder counselor and founder of Code 4 Couples, Cyndi Doyle, always says, you want to keep your relationship on a sizzle. Maybe things aren’t burning hot all the time and that’s okay. But if you are working daily to keep things sizzling then you don’t feel the impact of those days apart quite as much. First responder couples deal with disconnection and maybe even loneliness regularly in their relationship and a lot of those feelings are because of spillover from the job. Spillover is exactly what it sounds like. It is when one area of your life spills into another and leaves an impact.
It’s not just the schedules that contribute to this spillover.
Here are some other reasons we may have disconnect as a first responder couple dealing with shift work:
-lack of intimacy
-lack of connection
-lack of support from spouse, friends, or family
-opposite schedules and lack of time together
As a result, you, your partner, or maybe both of you may grow to have resentment because of the job, feel alone, or even put up some emotional armor where you don’t share things like you used to.
Now let’s talk about some ways you CAN keep the connection going and minimize the reasons above.
5 Ways to Keep the Connection and Fire Going in Your Marriage
Create a Ritual
This means creating a quick, routine that allows you and your spouse to connect either physically or emotionally.
This can be a quick 5 minute check-in where you touch base with your spouse about your day. Avoid talk about frustrations or things that may lead to fights. You can say how you are feeling about work, positives, etc.
If you haven’t been intentional about connecting on your part, own up to it. Maybe you are grumpy or upset or tired lately and you took it out on your spouse- again, own up to it and acknowledge your actions. Communicate about it so you can move past it.
Tell Your Spouse What You Need or Don’t Need
Let your spouse know what you need or don’t need and it will take the guesswork out of things and make communication easier. No one is a mind reader.
Share Appreciations with One Another
Say thank you for things that you notice your spouse does that you appreciate. In turn, hopefully they will do that for you, as well. In addition, if you are both feeling validated for things you each did, then you are each more likely to do them again.
Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of couples, especially first responder couples deal with disconnection, loneliness and trying to keep that fire burning. Spillover happens for many first responder couples, as well. But being intentional with how you interact with your spouse and HOW OFTEN will help keep that connection going even through shift work.
If you need more support or further tips on police wife life or navigating shift work, be sure to check out my newest book Proud Police Wife: 90 Devotions for Women behind the Badge.
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