Relationship Rules for Cops

Now this is a touchy subject for cops to discuss honestly. I know, some of you out there have been happily married for over 25 years but you have to admit that as a group we don’t manage relationships nor marriage very well.

Maybe we would fare better if we had some rules to follow. I asked relationship expert Janice Hoffman who has written a very helpful book entitled “Relationship Rules” for some suggestions and she gave me some rules that just might help out.

Here are 5 Rules for a Happy Relationship to get you started:

1. Remember your partner isn’t perfect. Many times we love our partner so much that we see them as more perfect than other people in our life. In this light, we hold them to an ideal, one that embraces the thought that this person will not hurt us.

Many times we do this unconsciously. We make the mistake of forgetting they are human. As humans, we are designed to make mistakes. And sometimes, they may behave in a way which cause us to feel hurt. It is helpful to remember no one is perfect all the time. It is unrealistic to expect perfection from our partner. Allow them to make mistakes and forgive them for being human. It is through our mistakes that we learn. Embrace both your partner’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Let your love be stronger than your anger. This is so important. Sometimes we get caught up in our need to be right. Yet being right isn’t winning at all. Being angry disconnects us from ourself and our partner. It is the result feeling our needs aren’t being met. Winning only has room for one.

Explore what you need. Give some thought and ask yourself what do you need specifically, from your partner. This will help you think more clearly. Give yourself the luxury of putting yourself in time-out to clear your thoughts. Then communicate to your partner, as clearly as you can, what you are feeling. Ask for what you want or need and then be patient. Be very patient. Creating love, and especially lasting love, takes time.

3. Be flexible. After you ask for what you want, the next step is to be flexible. We become afraid when we aren’t getting what we need. Our tendency then is to become rigid. It is difficult to be flexible and rigid at the same time. Try this: Ask you partner for three things, Then have your partner choose one of the three they can commit to doing. You won’t get all three but you will get one, and one is better than none. Trade places with your partner and do this exercise again to balance giving and receiving. Remember to be flexible.

4. Look for the good, no matter how small. Sometimes we overlook the small things our partner does for us. This is especially true for deeds done on a regular basis, like taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom or making the bed. From a woman’s point of view, when her partner does domestic chores, she sees him as contributing to the housework, not as doing something romantic. As a result, her husband’s efforts are not usually appreciated. Yet, this is the best way to demotivate a man – forget to appreciate his efforts.

Appreciating a man for what he does, enables him to feel good about himself which in turn, motivates him to do more. A man thrives in a relationship where his efforts result in a happy woman.

From a man’s point of view, when his wife is talking, it may seem unimportant and pointless. Yet, validating what she is saying and empathizing with her feelings, fulfills a primary emotional need of hers. Women thrive in a relationship and have more to give when this one need is met.

5. Treat your spouse with the respect and kindness you show your friends. You married your best friend, but sometimes you may not feel this way. Still, they deserve the courtesies and kindness you bestow on your friends.

Do something everyday to let your spouse know you care. It benefits both of you. Love is the strongest emotion we have. What brought you together is what will keep you together.

If you find you have trouble expressing yourself, think back to a time when someone was nice to you, when someone said or did something kind. Recall the feelings. Connect with that memory. Doing this exercise will move you into a compassionate state of being, which is the goal. When you are feel compassionate, kindness and respect come naturally.

You can find more suggestions and information about Janice Hoffman’s book at:

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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