Why Cops Struggle at Marriage: The Top 3 Reasons

cop marriage

“Through sickness and in health”..

Ah, that moment when you know it’s right.

You couldn’t possibly imagine a life without him or her.

You have searched your whole life to find that special someone who knows all of your faults and still thinks you’re a catch. You can’t stand to be away from this love that only knows happiness and joy.

This rainbow of emotions that you have has no problem with telling the world, with a daily dose of updated facebook statuses, of how unique and special this love truly is.

And then this love gets transferred to night shift….

At first it feels like a cute novelty that makes you gush with pride around your family and friends. You proudly display your handsome or lovely in a full uniform photo anywhere you think people might see it.

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Until you overhear one of them bad mouthing the profession or worse, making generalizations like “all cops are racist.”

This cuts right to your soul. But that’s not the purpose of this article or why cops are horrible at marriage. When it comes to marriage, cops really need no help at all from the citizens they serve.

Oh, and before you square pegs start touting how wonderful your cop marriage is, you are an anomaly. You can continue on with your wonderful life full of unicorns and sandy beaches. This is article isn’t for you.

Here are the 3 reasons why I, the Salty Sarge, believe cops suck struggle at marriage.

1. Cops suck at showing their feelings

The only feelings that cops are good at showing are disdain for human kind. And I mean every human. They see bad people doing really bad and despicable things to each other.

We are good at hating everyone but us. Oh, and we hate management.

“Hi honey, how was your day,” is usually followed with “everyday is the same babe, just dealing with idiots like always.”

Wow.

What a warm and welcoming greeting to the one you love.

Over time this turns into even more depressing conversation or worse, none at all.

Many cops tell me that, as they spend more time on the job, they become even more detached from their spouse which in turn only drives a wedge that can become something worse over time.

What really gets cops into trouble is when they completely withdraw from their spouse or worse, start playing video games.

Yes video games. You know who you are. Turn the damn game off and talk to your spouse.

And don’t get me started on smartphones.

See Related Article: 6 Strange and Weird Character Traits of Cops

2. Cops are never home like normal humans

On a beautiful sunny Saturday, you and the loved one have planned on spending the day together on his birthday. All the plans are in place when he gets a call.

It’s work.

Another body has dropped.

Because he is also married to the job, he turns and gives you that look you have seen too many times.

He reassures you that he shouldn’t be gone too long and that it appears they already have solid leads.

He doesn’t come home for two days.

And when he does come home, he’s so tired that all he wants to do is sleep. The crazy long hours and unpredictable schedule also makes him display his ugly side.

Mr. Grumpy.

The life of a homicide detective.

Oh joy begin.

This work commitment also affects the children of a cop marriage.

Several years ago, after picking up my oldest son (from my first marriage) from the airport, we arrived home and planned on playing golf the following morning.

It had only been about five minutes after arriving home that my phone rang and I was called in for another homicide.

I was lucky this time. I only had to work all night but was still able to play golf with my son the next day.

Also, cops work a lot of holidays. Nothing says wedded bliss like spending Thanksgiving and Christmas by yourself.

And it certainly does not help looking at all of the “shiny happy people” and family members basking in all of their holiday cheer and glory.

3. Cops make dumb decisions in relationships

Up until this point in the article, I have shown only the outside forces that are in play with my argument.

The elephant in the room, however, are some of the decisions that cops make when it comes to relationships.

Outside of relationships, cops have it all over other professions as it relates to problem solving and thinking quick on their feet (other than say pilots who happen to strike a flock of Canadian Geese upon take off).

Cops are always doling out solutions that involve everything from citing case law to acting as defacto social workers in their jobs.

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For the most part, those that listen to the advice of a cop would not only better themselves but better their situation.

But when it comes to our own problems, cops are dumb.

We refuse to seek help when we obviously need it and we have this unnatural inkling to believe that we are always right.

I will not insult your intelligence by saying this doesn’t exactly foster a rainbow like relationship with your spouse.

Or our kids for that matter.

I have been around cops long enough to know that most are type A, thrill seeking junkies who have a hard time turning that switch off.

And I don’t have to tell you where that could lead.

See Related Article: The 3 Viruses That Can Kill a Police Department


I challenge all of you reading this article to be better spouses and not neglect the ones who truly love you. Don’t be that guy or gal who puts their career ahead of what truly matters most.

-The Salty Sarge

71 Comments

  1. Nailed it. 3 marriages down in flames, although not all my fault, I did try with #2 but not taking my own advice nearly got me arrested and canned. #3 was a cop….don’t do it. Just don’t.

      • SLACELORDMF, I know you are not talking to the Salty One because I don’t have problems, only solutions.

    • Not all are. Been married to mine for 5 yrs with him for 9 almost 10. I knew what I was getting into. You have to be understanding and patient to be a leow!!! You also have to be independent and a leader!!! Give them space when they need it (trust me you know when it happens), and love during every moment you can. Focus on the good, not the bad!!! Glad I chose this life and I sure wouldn’t trade it for the world!!!!

    • Some work, most don’t.. it’s almost like the first weeks of FTO. “Rookie I got 3 rules. Rule #1 Driver picks the radio station. Rule #2. Don’t ask to drive. Rule #3. Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. Rule 3.5. Go home at the end of shift safe and sound.

      • Hugh, Laura, when you put it like that, there was no real reason for me to write the article. I am glad both of you have all of this figured out.

  2. I’ve been happily married to #3 for 34 wonderful years this past Valentine’s Day. I can attest to the lousy shifts and days off…Too many temptations out there. Still working on showing my emotions and talking with Hunny Bunny

    • Don, I think it’s safe to say that we are all going to pretend that “hunny bunny” was an auto correct situation.

    • I’ve been married to # 2 for 30 years. We’ve had some GREAT times. I remember one in 1990 and another one in 2004.
      My anniversary is coming up soon, 7 months of not getting laid.

  3. This is so true! But before we got married, we had this conversation, of marrying a cop and status quo of there being failed marriages because of the job. And I decided it was worth the risk! Thankfully, we celebrated 24 years yesterday! And par for the course, he was called out yesterday! 😂

    • Jo, you are an inspiration to us all that, despite the odds, you did the dumb thing and married a cop and are brave enough to admit it.

  4. Married to a cop, but also work as Chief’s assistant. I think being an employee of the department helps. I have a better understanding of what the job entails plus I have the “clearance ” that allows him to be able to talk to me about work stuff. So far it works! Eight years & counting!

    • Tiffany, you had me at Chief’s assistant.

      And being the Chief’s assistant, well, I’m just gonna leave this one alone..

    • This is a great article. I was married 25years when my cop husband left me for a ER nurse 20 years younger. He was not a cop for the first 15 years of marriage so I really thought we were past any issues of “badge bunny” temptations but that was not the case. I just hope someday he realizes the destruction he really caused and was it really worth it. Our son will never be the same and doubts just about everything because he’s father was his world.

      • That bastard. Meaning, he gets to tag a 20 year younger nurse and all I get is this stupid blog. Damn him.

  5. Don’t be a cop married to a cop. Don’t be of rank married to the same rank. And for the love of God don’t ever out rank him. Because if you do you slept with his boss and your boss and you should have turned it down out of respect for him. The last 14 of the best and worse of my life.

  6. Was a cop myself. Married my Sargent, who voluntarily demoted himself so we could be together. I had to get out due to health problems, but he retired after a chief’s position and 35 years on the job. We celebrated 17 years in April. I know being able to talk to someone who gets the job helped him tremendously.

  7. Excellent article and a very important subject to discuss. We tend to avoid serious subjects as part of the compartmentalization process that helps us survive the potentially destructive parts of the job and this often bleeds over to our relationships, which can lead to disastrous consequences. In my own view, if a male cop is lucky enough to stay married for any length of time it is because his wife is an Angel. A good spouse is the best partner any cop will ever have. Police work is high stress and we cant take out our frustration on the job so naturally, we misdirect it to the ones we love. We are fond of saying that making it home to our family safely is a daily goal, yet we often treat them like crap when we get there. Attending to intimate relationship requires patience, diligence, motivation, and constant fine tuning. In other words, it must be a priority. I learned early to explain my day and withhold the ugly details by saying something like “I’ll spare you the details that are too gross to relive and discuss”, which left my wife knowing 1. I care enough to answer her honestly, and 2. I care enough to protect her from the “dark” side of the job (there’s just no need to discuss an autopsy at dinner). I frequently thanked her for being part of the reason I could be an effective investigator, because she was a reservoir of strength for me. We fostered an atmosphere of unity rather than one of separation or division. Being open involves being emotionally vulnerable; a characteristic that is antithetical in police culture. My advice would be to think hard on your priorities and place an emphasis on what comes out on top. After 20 years in law enforcement, my bride remains the best decision I’ve ever made. God bless each of you.

    • Fultzy, great comment. And I have never, in my life, seen such wife ass-kissing in my life. Thanks for making the rest of us husbands look like degenerate losers.

  8. Going through divorce #2 and this last one was not totally my fault but after being ignored for a year and going through a lot on the job I found someone to talk to. Wrong I know but when your non-leo wife cries at sad commercials and doesn’t hardly ever talk to you anyway, what else are you gonna do? It’s hard but it’s for the best. Now I’m retired and still not good at showing my feelings due to being injured on the job and dealing with pain all day. I miss the job and hate people so it doesn’t help. Glad I have retired due to the changing perception and administration. Just talk to someone.

    • After being ignored for a year you found someone else to fuck instead of doing the right thing, being honest with your wife about the issues, tried to work on it and then leaving the right way. Not being a piece of shit cheater. Yea I am bitter as I got left out of the blue after 22 years for a fucking badge bunny.

  9. Law Enforcement has its UP’s and DOWN’s it’s GOOD’s and BAD’s and some handle marriage better than other. I have known a wife that was Deputy Chief and husband was a Sergeant and they been happily married for over 30 years and than I have known many officers that have been married 3,4,5 and 6 times. Myself I am on my second one and been married for 34 years and I wake up every day with a kiss from her and I go to sleep with a kiss from me to her and it is working for us, I think of Charley Pride’s song “Kiss an Angel Good morning” Also I have known many cops that have more than 50 of marriage. That’s my 2 cents worth. Thanks for listening

    • Your comment makes me think of a DMB song called Bartender because after reading your comment I need a stiff one. (drink that is)

  10. Ok your one for three. First many cops become cops way to young. Many use status of being an officer to seek a partner, which brings out the badge-bunnys who move from cop to cop destroying all in their path. Second, to many cops fall in love and get married to the first and only partner they sleep with. Later finding out that they should have learned about life and relationships first. Lastly, some but not all cops are horrible with money decisions. We’ve all seen the line at the department on payday, cops living pay check to paycheck. Cops who start later in life or are married going into the profession seem to fair better. Also cops who were successful at another profession before police work also fair better with money and relationships. Sorry for all the generalizations, but these are based on 30 years of observations from the inside.

    • First off Jim, the Salty One has never been one for three at anything. Second, I disagree with a cop using his status in today’s culture for attracting women. Unless you’re a Sergeant which has a universal translation of “he who emotes confidence and is sexy”..

    • I agree that the older a man is when he becomes a LEO and having been successful at something else prior to joining the force are spot on. My guy is retired now after 25 yrs. Last 15 in homicide. We’ve been married a year; together 10. We are also partners in a successful business.
      I’m his 3rd wife and even though we were in our late 40’s … Badge Bunnies did exist. I was HR in a local police agency so I Saw A Lot of funny business between officers\dispatchers/admin, citizens, etc. I knew what was going on. We lasted because we talked about everything. Nothing was off limits. I also had the flexibility to adjust my work schedule to his. In this day & age I don’t know how young folks are going to make it unless 100% honesty, trust exists. We are all human beings with feelings. If a man can’t tell his woman who is he supposed to tell?

  11. Been married to my Leo for 19 yrs. There are days I can see the man I fell in love with and days I could just strangle him. I’m sure he feels the same. To be honest I’m not sure what keeps us together. May be he knows he won’t EVER find anyone better or that loves him like me? Maybe I keep thinking I’ll get him back when he retires? I do know I love him but hate the damn job!

  12. Married a cop knowing what I was getting into … I’d been a cop for 10 years, he was on marriage #2 as was I… fast forward to the baggage I thought he’d left behind. At year number 7 he started showing the abusive signs which he promised to get help for and never did and I allowed him to get away with not following thru. At year number nine both the alcoholism and abusive nature surfaced again this time it escalated and I was cut, dumb me stood by my man (like most victims of domestic violence) refused to cooperate with the state (I was a DA Inv) , he is a Training Coordinator at HIDTA (retired DEA), 18 months later he knocked me out, I again did not call the police because he was out on bond. I put it off as he was dealing with a lot, a drug addicted son, his daughters not wanting him to have a relationship w his grandkids because of his drinking, and cancer … we separated after the knock out, got back together to see him through cancer treatment, I lost my job because of the pending case. He said stay home, care for me, don’t work etc… I did and six months later after his Felony got dismissed, declared cancer free, got a penile implant and walked out, just like that! The narcissist dragged the divorce for two years. I’m finally out of that dysfunction and he continues to sabotage every effort I make to find employment. Yeah, he’d been married 20 years, I thought he’d learned from his first marriage, I trusted him and it got me nowhere after 13 years. I’m unemployed and fixing to be homeless … what a joy ride!
    Yes, don’t be that cop – the abuser and don’t be the victim that will not file because of the embarasment and humiliation nothing, not even the badge sets us apart from other victims. I learned the hard way.

  13. Well I guess I am one of the square pegs that will rant about how great my cop marriage is. My Leo is a great cop but she is also a great mom and wife. She works on her departments SVU task force and trust me there are days that are really tuff for her but she leaves work at the door step and I think that is key. If she needs to talk or share we do but then it’s our lives and our kids and grandkids after that. She is a great with communication and we always talk things out. Her job is tuff. I thank as I believe it is for all Leos. I thank God everyday for her and for what she does as well as what all Leo’s do for our communities. My personal opinion is that cops don’t suck at marriage. People just fail each other and their marriage! Not matter what you do for a living it’s the norm now to just give up and walk away. No matter what the job you both know what you are getting into when you meet,date and marry. Yes I know every situation is different but you get out of it what you put into it. Sorry for the long rant but I love my Leo and love and respect all the rest! Be safe out there

  14. Salty, you are salty indeed. My husband is one of those really kind quiet men that old ladies love to hug and tell me how lucky I am. We were married before here went into LE, and talked a lot about our commitment to each other and how we would be one of the strong couples that stay together. When year 5 hit, things started getting hard and to save both of us from hearing about the horrible things he was responding to he stopped talking altogether. I was dragging things out of him and our 11 year marriage was starting to weaken. By year 10 we were both So miserable and started to explore ideas to change that. He decided to quit LE. I realized then what a hold the job and lifestyle has on people that other jobs just don’t even come close to. I felt like it was very hard to get out. He had a lot of other law enforcement officers tell him how jealous they were of him and wondered what it was like on the other side. It took a couple of years to get the next stage figured out but we are now both making quite a bit more than we were trying to handle his law enforcement career and we are both a heck of a lot happier

  15. Married almost 20 years, and yes he’s a dumb ass who thinks he can fix any problem with his cop attitude instead of listening and talking. I try not to take it personally because as a 21 year non-promotable much of his stress and disdain comes from his admin and not me. But, I know he loves me dispite both of our flaws and when he’s not jacked up on testosterone and adrenaline he’s treating me like a queen with breakfast in bed. On a positive note I dispatch, so technically I can tell him where to go and he has to listen even if he doesn’t want to.

  16. My father was a cop for 36 years and is still married to my mother for more than 50 years. I followed him and worked for the same department. When I started dating my wife I told her that I was going to be a cop. She agreed, we’ve been married for 38 years, 34 of those was while I was in law enforcement. I didn’t promote until my 25th year and that was to Corporal and a traffic homicide investigator. She put up with my call outs, being gone for weeks for riots, natural disasters and what ever. So you can make it work in spite of all the BS that goes with the job, I don’t have a clue why but it’s possible.

  17. Being from a Law Enforcement Family. I knew when my then fiance told me he wanted to be an LEO! It is difficult! As an LEOW, I’ve had to work hard to keep us together! You can’t let them withdraw!!! When they do, You have to demand their attention and that they open up! We’ve now been together 21 years! It’s not easy, You have to be willing to fight! He always jokes that you have to marry a woman with 5 brothers and no sisters to be happy! LOL! No, I just understand the stress of the job and that he needs to be redirected to be focused on what is important!

  18. Married my cop before he got the job, but when we met was well aware that he wanted to be an officer. Was with him when he went through the academy. A lot of this sounds like being a night shift nurse too, which I am. Most of the time we’re together we are sleeping lol

  19. Unfortunately, I have seen the reverse happen, too. People leave the job in an effort to save their marriage, and it doesn’t work out. I’m glad it worked out for you, but if the LE leaves the job and then resents it, the situation will not improve. Major moves like a job switch have consequences that are sometimes overlooked.

  20. In a relationship with one for a year…he was the best at communicating in the beginning. After our first fight he started to become closed feeling toward me. This article was great and gave me a different perspective. Known him for a very long time…like 1/2 my life. Always had a thing for him and him for me I didn’t know he didn’t know. He’s On his 2nd divorce and that concerns my family…he doesn’t work in a Dept with a lot of violent crime but he arrests at least once a shift. Aside from his closed-offness – yes I know that’s not a word, he’s my perfect. I don’t mind the hours or the OT just concerned about his lack of communicating. Any 2nd or 3rd wives out there with advise?!?

  21. Not sure I agree with the premise. If cops suck at marriage, then why are we always getting married? At least were better than the firefighters at something!

  22. try the book emotional survival by Dr. Gilmartin I believe. He is a retired officer that gives a good insight on an officers daily dealings and how to cope and coexist together.

  23. Sarge you nailed this one; I was the guy that left the home and focused ONLY on the mission; the guy who said , Hon, I’ll be home in a few hours only to show up a few days later without making a phone call as to why! And all the other stuff that classified me as an arsehole (my term not the families). I gotta say that when I was home I ONLY focused on the family! I did 32 years and they were behind me all the way. Now 56 years into a great marriage all I can say to them is “sorry”, but I’d do it all again because I am a cop! It also helped because I came from a cop family and so did my wife whose Dad was KIA!

  24. I read this article and I do see some of what you say. There are police officers exactly like the examples above noted. However I disagree that there aren’t police officers whobe happily married to their first spouse.
    I started in policing at 25 years of age. I’ve been working 20 years and been with my first and only wife for 18 years. We have 2 kids together. I have worked my entire career on the road as first response – I worked a ton of ot/holidays and weekends. I seen a ton of deaths including 30 plus infant and children deaths. I am diagnosed with PTSD and had drinking issues in my past. My wife stuck by me in those times and I appreciate/respect that.
    I made the decision to put my family first. I hang out every once in a while with my shift but I don’t go partying all the time as others I work with.
    Sure we have had our ups and downs but we have worked on our problems. I think too many people nowadays give up quickly and don’t try to reconcile their marriages.
    As for finances, I always been good with finances and will retire quite comfortably in 10 years (still have my pension on top of this).
    I think this article references the older generation of coppers who focused solely on the job. I started with a lot of these guys and saw a lot of divorces. When my generation started, i saw a change in the way police officers look at policing. For me it’s a job – my family is always prioritized first. I know some may not agree with me but it has served me well for 20 years. And I’m still married with kids.

  25. Just celebrated our 25th anniversary on the 3rd. The night I met my hubby he said he was going to be a cop and if I had a problem with it I should walk away right then…lol! I was 18 he was 19, we married 2 years later, he went to academy 2 years after that. I think that being there through the difficult challenge of academy (7 mos away) helping him study when he was home and the fact that we waited 9 years to have our first child helped a lot. We grew together in his new profession and we talked a lot without distractions and added stress of child raising. I was used to the crazy hours and time away from home before we brought 3 amazing kids into it all. He promoted to sgt a few years back and was gone again for 27 months…easy? hell no, but we were doing it for the better of us and our family! Retirement is just 4 short years away! That is nothing in the grand scheme of everything, and I can’t wait to have my amazing, hard working and dedicated hubby home every day…oh wait, maybe he can go the full 30, or maybe a part time job!! Lol🤣🤣

  26. Number 3 just crashed in flames around me. I could seriously make a good living out of advising women on which man NOT to date, cause that would be the loser I’d be attracted to. It’s like I’m trying to fix humans one at a time off duty. I keep trying to save people. So, now it’s just me and the cats forever. I readily admit to locking all feelings away, all weakness away, and never having a serious discussion, never admitting hurt, and always putting on the brave face. Destined to kill any relationship. *shrugs* whatcha gonna do?

  27. Been married to my LEO husband for close to 27 years. He was smart and married the dispatcher lol You all may be type A personalities, but for at least 8 hours a day he had to listen to me tell him what to do, and comply 😉

  28. On marriage #3. I’m a (now retired)cop, first 2 husbands were also cops. #3 is an Army vet. We are a bundle of type-A attitude, PTSD, and sarcasm. Thank God that no kids are involved.

  29. Been married 12 years next month. Have 3 kids. Been in the job 5 years.

    My wife and I are old school Christians who both waited till our wedding night to have coitus. CRAZY, right? I dont think so! We are simply used to living a life of commitment to God and to each other. We strive to make things work.

    I get frustrated when i hear others give advise that you should go out and EXPERIENCE more before getting married.

    We have our struggles, but we are both open to counseling and communicate with each other, but also give each other space when needed. Marriage certainly takes a team effort and two to tango. I would never tell someone to hold on to a spouse that has cheated without remorse.
    But, forgiveness should always be your go-to and try to find redemption, if not for your marriage then for yourself.

    Salty made great points about the struggles and i would plead with everyone to seek counselling when your marriage has struggles.

  30. You all really are the Super heroes of today.
    I was a Military wife before he swapped to LEO. I’ll take wacky schedules over 6 month deployments any day!
    “Mr Grumpy” LOL!
    My guy told me right away that he “excels at Vague” haha I’m good with it.
    Remember when they want to tell you all those stories, be supportive and just listen. They need that. 😉

  31. Very well said. The silent support as my husband puts it. I’m there to listen quietly, but remind him he’s MY hero first above all others. I married a cop and I say that is why we work well. I didn’t marry a boy headed off to the academy. Many relationships fail because of the changes that one goes through when leaving home for 15-20 weeks. I actually thankful I missed that time in his life.

  32. You forgot the one positive of being married to a LEO after being married for 18 years we are still like newlyweds since I have only seen him about 3 years total in that 18 years😂

  33. Interesting article, since I can remember, as a little boy, I said I would never marry. I’m 38 been with the same woman 10 years (a lawyer) and we have a beautiful daughter and another on the way. I couldn’t be happier but I know if we got married it would all end.

  34. I’m a Correctional Sergeant (yeah, I know I don’t work out in the field like the boys in blue), but the 16-18 he shifts, paperwork, investigations, the call-ins, the quick decision making, team calls, and body alarms have changed me…that’s for sure. Everywhere I go, I am sitting or parking “just so” for quick response. Nothing worse than running into a disgruntled gangbanging, cop hating, ex con in a restaurant when you’re with your family.

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