Common Advice We Give To Wives of Law Enforcement
Who Is Vickie Speed?
Vickie grew up in a desert community in Southern California. She was raised in a home with her mom, stepdad, and two siblings. She spent thirty years working in Construction Accounting and Project Management.
Her husband, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Detective Mitch Speed, died July 7, 2018, from cancer related to work exposure. Vickie is also serving as the CFO of the Owen-Speed Foundation.
Who Is Tania Owen?
Tania was born in El Salvador, immigrating to the US in 1974. She became an officer in 1986, starting at the Santa Monica Police Department. Since then, her career in law enforcement has spanned decades, serving the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. She has had assignments in patrol, detectives, and Bomb Squad K-9 Handler.
She is the wife of slain Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Steve Owen, who was murdered in the line of duty on October 5, 2016. She now serves as the CEO of the Owen-Speed Foundation.
Most Common Advice We Give to Wives
I think there are a couple of things. I don't know that there is just one in particular. I believe a big one that we are dealing with right now, with some wives were talking to, is about trust. It's things that come with being married to a first responder. It is very attractive to see a man or woman in uniform with a badge and a gun, its sexy and safe. My husband was not in law enforcement when we got married; we didn't have to deal with that part of the job. I still believe it's very safe, an incredible job, and a good income.
You have to have a lot of patience to be married to somebody in this job. It looks so appealing and attractive and so exciting. I can remember a girl that I worked with a few years back asked me, "how come you don't talk about Mitch being a detective and being a cop? Oh my god, how exciting, if my husband was a cop, I would talk about it all the time!" Well, I think it was my husbands' job for me. It didn't define our life. We also learned to become very private about it because we did live where he worked, and we kept it to ourselves. That was the way Mitch chose to live.
I know a lot of women aren't that way. They do put their husband's career out there and things out there. I personally don't agree with it, but those are only my personal opinions. I think right now in the times we're in, it's a lot of trust and a lot of patience and a lot of love and probably a lot of forgiveness.
For us, because we were both cops, we were very private about what we did. We never shared our careers with anyone. In fact, if we were ever asked about our profession, I would say I was a housewife, and Steve would say he was a maintenance man. Like a lot of cops, our best friends were other cops and their families. We would go camping, take vacations, and had that tight bond and friendship; we all trusted each other. I agree with Vickie; what we are talking about most right now with wives is trust.
Also the unknown, there's a lot of unknown right now. And I hate to use the word scary because my faith is stronger than that, but we live in some very different times right now, especially with law enforcement.
As we work out there with our brothers and sisters in uniform, there are times when we become tighter with them than we do with our spouses. We spend more time with our partner in a car or in a general work environment every day, for 8, 10, or 12 hours. We tend to confide in each other and talk about a lot of things. What can happen, at times, not always, is that your partner is now of the opposite sex, and if things are not going well at home, it only takes that one conversation, and their marriage is now in a vulnerable state. That's why it's imperative and so important for women to have an open line of communication and trust with their husbands.
You have to be their safe place when they come home and allow them to decompress. I believe, as women, we hold the key to keeping our marriage together.
I can say this because it was an issue in our home. There is such a fine line between being a wife and being a nag. When you ask, "will you do this, can you do this and you never stop, that's being a nag. My experience is when Mitch kicked off on Thursdays and was off Friday through Sunday, one of the things he told me was "It's difficult for me to hear you ask continually and see these lists that you leave because you have expectations of what I'm supposed to be doing on my days off. I'm exhausted, I'm mentally and physically worn out, and I really need to just decompress. I need to catch my breath, and you need to allow me to do that."
When we communicated, it was a big game-changer in our marriage.
It takes a special woman to be the wife of a law enforcement officer. Even though at times we want them to share the home responsibilities, we have to learn there will be occasions we have to carry the brunt of it. Marriage is a give and take, but because this is such a unique and unpredictable profession, one or the other will have to step up for the sake of the marriage.
It's not only learning to be okay with it, but also it's learning how to put tape on your mouth. And that was a big one for me personally.
If your husband comes home from work, and you greet him with nagging, mothering, or emasculating him because he is not immediately doing what you expect, that is the wrong approach. I guarantee you, if that's how things are going at home, he would rather stay at work. They'd rather be at work than home because they can control the environment there.
No matter what kind of day I had as a first responder, I had to learn to be a wife and put my husband first. Steve was a priority over me. When the time was right, I shared my stressors of the job with Steve. God gave men the physical strength, and he gave women the emotional strength!