Guest Post By: Rebecca Lynn, founder of the Proud Police Wife blog, book, and social channels for Lighthouse Health and Wellness
As a high school sweetheart, I was used to regularly being with my husband as we both worked a 9-5 schedule. That quickly changed when he went into the police academy, moved into Field Training, and onto the night shift during his first few years on the job in law enforcement.
We were young, just out of college, and in love, but I would be lying if I said these sudden changes to our schedule and, ultimately, the dynamic of our relationship was easy to navigate.
We worked opposite shifts, saw one another much less than before, and had to be intentional with our time together. I couldn’t help but feel a bit disconnected from him and lonely at times.
Sixteen years later, I know we were not alone in these struggles. First-responder couples regularly deal with disconnection and loneliness in their relationship,; many of those feelings are because of spillover from the job.
The time apart, tiredness, hard calls, exposure to trauma regularly on the job, and their impact are just a few examples of spillover and how the job can bleed into your relationship.
While this is normal, it doesn’t mean your relationship has to struggle. Instead, recognizing spillover and its impact on your relationship or family can help minimize it.
One spouse can also experience spillover while the other feels disconnected or lonely.
Here are some reasons disconnect and loneliness may occur:
- Opposite schedules
- Lack of time together
- Lack of communication
- Lack of intimacy
- Lack of support from friends/family
- Struggles with connection in your marriage
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.
One of the best things we can do to combat these feelings is RECOGNIZE when spillover from the job is happening.
Once you recognize it, what can you do? You can implement one of the strategies below with your partner.
5 Ways to Cope with Loneliness and Disconnect in Your Marriage
1. Create a Ritual
Finding a routine or consistent activity you and your spouse can do builds in time together. Maybe that is drinking coffee on the porch every Sunday. Whatever it is, protect that time so it can happen routinely and allows you time to connect with phones put away emotionally.
2. Daily Check-Ins
This can be a quick 5-minute check-in where you chat with your spouse about your day. Talk about more than mundane tasks, like who walked the dog last. Open up but don’t allow this to be a time to pick fights or express frustrations. Try to share positives.
3. Take Ownership
If you have been grumpy, quiet, or distant, own up to it and apologize.
4. Tell your spouse what you need
They are not mind readers. Letting your spouse know what you need or want will take the guesswork out of things and make communication much easier.
5. Share Appreciation
If your spouse does something that you appreciate, TELL them. They need to feel appreciated (and so do you). Plus, when they know you have gratitude for something they did, they are more inclined to do it again.
Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of couples, especially first responder couples, deal with spillover. But recognizing when it is happening gives you the power to reduce its impact on your relationship and make it more vital than ever.
Lynn, R. (2022, August 24). Ways to cope with disconnection or loneliness in your first responder … Lighthouse Health and Wellness. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from https://www.lighthousehw.org/news/ways-to-cope-with-disconnection-or-loneliness-in-your-first-responder-marriage-to-make-it-stronger-than-ever/