"Why Did I Ever Marry a Cop?"

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His Turn

"I'm not the one who has changed," said Nick, 39. "Liz is irritable, overemotional and sarcastic. She dislikes me, my job and everything I do! She leaves long messages on my cell phone telling me what a horrendous person I am. I delete most of them without listening. I deal with conflict 24/7 -- I don't need it from my wife.

"Liz was concerned about my being a cop before we got married, but I tried to calm her fears. She knows I'd never do anything reckless. How come other wives can handle this and she falls apart? Maybe she should try talking to some of them instead of wasting time on the phone all day with her girlfriends. My sister-in-law has been a cop's wife for 25 years, but whenever she tries to offer advice Liz brushes her off.

"It's hard to believe we used to have fun together. These days I can't do anything right. Liz is always on my back for not listening to her. I explain that when we're in a restaurant, I am listening -- but I'm also scanning the room to make sure there's no trouble. I'm a cop -- it's part of my training. As for not helping with the kids, that's categorically untrue! I do more than most dads. But instead of giving me credit, she'll complain to her friends about the two nights I forgot to take out the garbage. Sometimes I won't hear about what I did wrong until a month later. By then I have no idea what she's talking about. Meanwhile, she does whatever she wants. She's got the kids overprogrammed with activities, which -- along with all the stuff she buys -- are breaking our bank account. But she doesn't seem to remember that, either -- or the fact that husbands and wives are supposed to have sex with each other! I can't remember the last time we did.

"Every day while driving home I promise myself that tonight things will be better. But I get ambushed as soon as I open the door. If I'm five minutes late, she'll hiss, 'Where were you?' It's never 'I want to hear about your day, sweetheart.' It's an inquisition. There are a million and one reasons why I may have to work late. It's not as if I'm putting in long hours for my health -- I'm doing it for her and the kids. And I'm wiped out when I get home. For the past eight years I've dealt with danger, violence and trauma on a daily basis. I've seen things I'd never describe to Liz that are seared in my brain. When you wear a badge and a gun you have to stay calm and just block out the horror, anger and frustration. In my new job I have a different kind of stress -- management issues, everyone jockeying for position. It all takes a toll.

"I take a lot of pride in my work and I've earned the respect of my fellow officers as I've moved up the ranks. And if I handle this new job well, I have a shot at being the head honcho. That would be an incredible honor, and it would mean a lot more with the support of a loving wife. But that's one thing I'm missing right now."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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