Wounded officer: The job and the accident didn't kill me, but it sure did kill my marriage - and I'm not alone

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Divorce by is licensed under Canva
Submitted by Brian Mc Vey

Divorce means a failed marriage. Although I do not want to get divorced my spouse does. I thought we were in a great place. We have been through much heartache, and misery as newlyweds.

Before I was injured in the line of duty, we exchanged vows in front of friends and family. Then, something we did not plan for my squad was a car accident. I am beyond grateful that I actually survived, and it is only by the grace of God and because I was wearing my seatbelt. 

After years of surgeries, physical therapy, the personal nightmares of dealing with workers compensation, the horror of dealing with my department's Medical Section bureaucracy, the stress of early relocating, and moving our family to another state, I felt I had purpose again with meaningful work teaching.  We bought our first actual home as well as purchasing my wife a new car. 

I thought my life was GREAT! On top of the usual arguments most couples have, our marriage was burdened with additional obstacles. I have to carry some of the scars, of being a poor husband due to the anger, frustration, and bitterness stemming from my chronic pain and psychological trauma of my squad car accident.

I thought our marriage was pretty solid. I was wrong.

When I returned home on July day, I thought our home was burglarized. Having worked on a burglary team, I walked into my home and saw things missing. I was going to call 911 immediately. I made attempts to call my wife, but it went straight to her voicemail. I was nervous and uncertain.

Twenty minutes later, our doorbell rang. Thinking it was a police officer, or a neighbor telling me what was going on, I answered the door. A woman greeted me and handed me paperwork. Still in denial, I took the papers and saw the word "DIVORCE!"  

I was being served divorce papers!

It didn’t make sense to me at all. My wife and I had just celebrated my birthday the past weekend with friends at a steakhouse, the following at night we went to a family party and spent the night at a boutique hotel.

It pains me to think I did not see this coming. It hurts me to have been intimate with my wife a day before getting served the divorce papers.  

It is horribly humbling learning about your divorce in an empty house. The silence of the empty house was terrifying. The sobering effect of having your spouse leave with your small children is chilling, odd, and inconceivable. I would not wish this hurt on my worst enemy.

If your marriage is struggling ACT NOW!!! Start listening to the needs of your spouse. Listen without being defensive or judgmental. For a marriage to succeed each must hear the other's complaints without getting defensive. This is harder than learning how to express negative feelings effectively.  

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a family member mentor for help in the specific areas. If your marriage is suffering, ask your spouse what you can specifically work on to better your relationship; write it down and post it as a daily reminder. If anything, it may present a surprise to your spouse.

Consider this question: When was the last time you dated your spouse: dinner, movie, flowers? When is the last time you went out for dinner without the kids? Making time for each other is paramount for a healthy marriage.

A great example for me has been my parents. My mother and father made time for each other, “getting away“ to enjoy a nice dinner alone without their five children. Recognize you may be in a routine that is draining your marriage/relationship. Be intentional about spending time together.

Recent Pew research on what makes marriages work indicates that the average couple spends only 20 minutes per week talking with each other. Turn off the technology and spend 30 minutes a day catching up with your spouse. 

For me, learning to live this new abnormal life is extremely challenging. The hardest part of my current situation is not seeing my kids daily; not being able to read my kids before bed or wake them up every morning has been very difficult. 

Divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Walking in the door from work and not hearing my children scream, “Daddy’s home!” It is heartbreaking. I must own some of this and work on becoming better.  

NOT leaning on the bottle or using maladaptive coping mechanisms has been vital for my health and wellness in dealing with my divorce. I won’t lie, I wanted to do some awful things to stop my pain. 

The first few days were an absolute blur. I was not eating or sleeping and was waking up nightly thinking it was a dream. Looking around made me even more depressed. I knew I had a quick and easy solution, but thank God I kept staring at my kid's photos and never took that step. 

I am forever indebted to my brother John. He stopped his life for me. He flew to my home in Texas from Virginia leaving his wife and three kids behind to be present for me when I had no one. He flew out and saw me alone, depressed, having not eaten or slept in days which I was at the point of “it” making sense to end my life.   

I am no scholar, nor an intellectual. Just an ordinary man who has been blessed with countless hours of quiet reflection, the result being this article. Humbling myself was the start.

Charity begins in your home with your spouse and children. Don’t wait: buy that card, purchase the small gift or flowers just because. If you’re struggling in your marriage, demonstrate to your spouse that you are willing to work on any issue in striving to become sensitive to your spouse's needs.

All losses are painful. Lean away from blaming, questioning, or worrying. If your efforts become futile and divorce is the outcome, learn to forgive, and work tirelessly to improve your lot. 

This has been dark for me, and it still hurts deeply. Too many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and the military choose to end their lives; the final solution to a temporary problem.

Winston Churchill once said, “If you're going through hell, keep going!”

There were times when I had to live minute to minute hour to hour. I have talked to several officers who have leaned on the bottle or worse. I understand and see how officers feel that there are no options, there are: I am living proof.  
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The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
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