"Why Did I Ever Marry a Cop?"
"Being a cop's wife means nonstop worry and tension," said Liz, 33 , a stay-at-home mother of three children ranging in age from 4 to 11. "But even worse, Nick totally shuts me and the kids out of his life. I feel like a single parent. Do you have any idea how many birthday parties, school performances and parent-teacher meetings I've attended by myself? Oh, and guess who takes the car to the shop when the engine conks out? Nick's older brother is also a cop, and my sister-in-law always says, 'This is just what it's like.' Well, maybe that works for her but it doesn't cut it for me. Either we fix this marriage or end it.
"I never thought this would happen to us. Nick and I were so in love that we finished each other's sentences. I met him when I was a freshman at a local community college and he was in his final year at the Police Academy. Our chemistry was amazing, but even then I had reservations about his being a New York City police officer. A scenario would run through my head: I'd hear a knock at the door and his captain would be there, telling me Nick had been shot. I was terrified to go down that path. But Nick was persistent and I was too crazy about him to resist. We got married right after I got my associate's degree.
"My imagination went haywire once we had kids. I'd be bathing the baby and I'd picture him getting shot by someone he'd pulled over for speeding, or killed in a domestic call gone bad. Basically, you can't watch cop shows on television if you're married to a law enforcement officer!
"Yes, I'm proud of him. But it's hard to describe the horror of hearing a news report that a police officer has been shot but his name hasn't been released. I've never gotten used to that panic, that waiting for the telephone to ring.
"Nick's always bugging me to join a support group. Like I have the time. God forbid he'd listen to my concerns. That stopped a long time ago. Even when the two of us are out to dinner by ourselves, he's always looking around the room, checking out everyone and everything but me. When he does deign to speak to me, it's to complain about something, like the new shoes I bought that he says we can't afford. Since I can't talk to him, I talk to my girlfriends -- and then he gets mad that I'm on the phone too much! Not that he ever answers his phone! I'll call his cell and leave messages that he never returns, which sets me into another tailspin.
"A few months ago Nick was promoted to the highest rank and offered a prestigious desk job. At first I was thrilled -- finally, I thought, we could have a normal life! Well, that shows you what a dope I am. True, he's off the streets, and that's reassuring, but his days are even longer now than they used to be! Before, the kids would see him as they were getting home from school and he was heading out for his night shift. Now they may not see him at all. Nick pours every ounce of energy he has into police work and acts as if I don't exist. And then he expects me to have sex with him? I don't think so.
"When the kids were younger he used to help with child care and housework, but now? Never. I handle everything! And there's something every single day, whether it's karate, soccer and basketball for the older kids or gymnastics and swimming for the younger one. I'm exhausted trying to keep everyone happy -- and then Nick has the nerve to order me around like I'm a new recruit. Hardly a day goes by anymore that we don't have a huge blowup. It reminds me of my parents' marriage, which ended in an ugly divorce when I was 14. When I met Nick he made all those unhappy memories disappear. Now I feel as if I'm living the nightmare all over again."