How often do you take someone for granted? It might be your wife or kids, a favorite relative or best friend. Perhaps you can honestly say you never take anyone for granted, least of all someone you love; that would certainly put you into an elite category usually reserved for those destined for canonization… or lengthy treatment for codependence.
The truth is, we all tend to take those closest to us for granted way too often. It’s easy, and relatively safe to do. Those we love most tend to love us back, even when we’re not very lovable, and grant a lot of do-over’s whether we deserve them or not. That extension of grace is one of the hallmarks of love, but we should never take advantage. Not if you want your relationships to stay strong and mutually rewarding. People have limits, mere mortals don’t possess unlimited forgiveness to dole out to knuckleheads who refuse to learn or change, and repeated thoughtlessness with the expectation to just be forgiven and allowed to move forward becomes rude over time. Worse yet is calculated thoughtlessness, deliberately taking someone for granted knowing we’ll be forgiven.
In our last column, Their Sacrifice (linked below), we looked at the silent heroism and sacrifice of the “ones who support the one who wears the badge.” If you could look inside the heart of most of those closest to you – your husband or wife (or whatever domestic partnership you enjoy), the kids, extended family, and even your closest friends – you would probably find a lot of pride… and more than a fair share of pain. How many broken relationships connected to law enforcement collapsed under a burden of pain caused directly or indirectly from the job? How many are on their last legs? The difference between those that are succeed and those that fail isn’t that there is a lack of pain involved - and no relationship is completely pain free – but how that pain is alleviated, or at least honored.
We’ve write a lot on relationships and honestly, there is a lot that can be said. What we want to do here is present some tips uniquely centered on honoring the sacrifices of those closest to you.
The antithesis of taking someone or something for granted, simple gratitude is way too often overlooked. We in law enforcement are great at heaping honor on other cops and fellow first responders, the military, or perfect strangers we see supporting us or the community in unique or above-the-call-of-duty ways. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that whatsoever! When it comes to rewarding the day-to-day giving, especially when it’s our partners or kids, we don’t always do so well by them. The attitude of, “Why should I thank someone for just doing what they should anyway? I sacrifice for them; I don’t think it’s too much to ask that anyone else pitch in, too, is it? They know I appreciate what they do, I don’t see why I should have to keep saying it out loud” seems to prevail.
To be fair, these aren’t necessarily unique to law enforcement; Althea hears about ungrateful spouses and all the resulting rationalizations from LE and non-LE families alike, and when we used to lead marriage seminars I heard the same, too. Ingratitude is a universal complaint. But so what if it is? If you’re a cop, your family probably sacrifices a little more than most, or at least in unique ways, and just because other husbands and wives, fathers and mothers can’t or won’t see the value of a simple “Thank You” doesn’t have a thing to do with you. Make a point of noticing what they do to support you, how they sacrifice, what they tolerate with without complaint, and where grace is extended to you by those who don’t have to but do anyway because they love you, and just say, “Thanks.”
Open your world up to them