Surviving to Twenty-Five Part Three

I have spent uncounted hours over the decades, consoling and counseling co-workers with marital troubles.  Why did people come to me? Because I am very happily into Year Nine of my third marriage.  Although it’s none of your goddamn business, I have unfortunately suffered through some of the worst divorce drama that any of my three different lawyers said they had yet encountered.  Yay, I win a prize.

The demands of our work place can induce all manner of strife in our wedded relations.  Shift work, Type A attitudes (yes, us), temptations, and general disillusionment with society can drive a wedge between a cop and his or her spouse.  Once, I remember looking at our K9 plaque on the wall–the one with all the dog and handlers names–the divorce rate was horrendous, with 90% of the guys having at least one divorce.  The winner was five.  He said he was a serial monogamist.

Prequel:  End one relationship before beginning another.  Nothing fuels the rocket of drama faster than allegations of cheating.  If you are having marriage problems, see them to a conclusion, then start again.  Okay, on to divorce…

Lesson One:  Protect yourself.  Divorce is a cruel battleground.  Your enemy will give you no quarter.  This is especially true if kids or substantial assets are involved.  Quickly find a good attorney and heed his/her advice.  A good attorney?  I’d recommend my second ex-wife’s.  She clobbered my inept shyster…and me.  A divorce is a complicated legal matter for which you need counsel.  Get it early on.

Lesson Two:  Keep the children out of the ugliness.  Younger kids will suffer more if things are mean-spirited.  They don’t need to hear you and your other half badmouth each other. I suggest trying insulate them from the proceedings until they are older.  Your feelings about their mom or dad are irrelevant to their need for security and stability.

Lesson Three:  Handle your divorce outside the workplace.  Nothing like being the flavor of the month to ruin a good professional reputation or jeopardize your employment.

Lesson Four:  Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.  You won’t feel like it, but getting good meals, sleep, and exercise are especially important during times of stress. Welcome to stress.

Lesson Five:  Alcohol is a depressant.  Eliminate the sauce, or at least cut back.  Don’t make your real life resemble a country music ballad.  See Lesson Three.

Lesson Six:  Ramp up your officer safety techniques.  During a divorce, you will be distracted.  Clear your mind when you are on the job and pay attention to the danger signs. A moment’s inattention can put citizens, partners, and you at risk.

Lesson Seven:  A divorce can be a marathon, not a sprint.  If there are complications, this uncivilized civil proceeding can last for years.  Hunker down and do your best.

Lesson Eight:  Don’t be a dick (non-gender specific).  You know what I mean.

Lesson Nine:  Consider EAP, if things get dicey.  Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who has no dog in your particular fight.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been there.

Lesson Ten:  Keep your immediate supervisor apprised of any divorce issues that might potentially impact your ability to do your job.  This is also for your protection.  It may lessen the shock if you come up out of the blue and say, “Guess what, Boss, I have a DV injunction against me!”  Ask around, this has happened more than once.

I recently watched a young man go through a relatively benign divorce.  There were no child custody disputes, the property was equitably distributed without a hiccup, and it had a short time frame.  Although I am ecstatic for him, it is not the norm.

Again, I cannot stress enough to protect yourself.  I have seen vengeful spouses turn on officers and attack their Achilles’ tendon:  an officer’s professional integrity.  We carry the extra burden of having any complaint against us investigated, unlike most other work places.  In the end, make sure to always conduct yourself properly, be truthful in any legal proceeding, and follow your attorney’s lead.

Your divorce should be tried in Family Court, not Internal Affairs.


Surviving to Twenty-Five

Surviving to Twenty-Five Part Two

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