If you’re dedicated to becoming a good Police Officer, I bet you’ve discovered how hard it is to prepare for work, serve conscientiously, and maintain your responsibilities as a spouse and parent. I’ve also struggled, but my experience as a police officer, detective, and pastor have helped me to keep the proper perspective.
Over the years in my capacity as a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of performing a number of weddings. These are joyous occasions and I always feel a burden to say something profound and meaningful. I probably fail to accomplish this most of the time, but I try. The best wedding sermons usually contain some form of “advice”, and the best advice comes from the heart. I always try to share some profound piece of wisdom gleaned from my experience as a husband or from my own observations as a police officer, pastor, counselor, and friend.
There’s one thing I always share with people who are getting married: Your commitment to your marriage is more important than your commitment to your spouse. My wife, Susie, says this advice seems a bit harsh for a wedding sermon. Maybe she’s right, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be committed to a happy, loving marriage, even before you ever decide who you want to partner with in that commitment.
That’s why I can honestly say that I love marriage more than I love Susie.
If you’re a cop, you probably understand this approach to commitment, because you’re employing a similar attitude at work every day. There are times when your daily experience as an officer can be trying, difficult, and dissatisfying (to say the least). On days like those, we must focus on the overarching virtue and importance of our profession. Law Enforcement, as a vocation, is more important than your individual agency or your temporary experiences on any given day. As an officer and detective, I came to love law enforcement more than I loved my position, the case I was investigating, or the agency I served. By focusing on the transcendent purpose and value of law enforcement, I was able to weather a number of tough days. If you're a cop, you probably understand this approach to commitment, because you're employing a similar attitude at work every day. Click To Tweet
In a similar way, I’ve learned to love the institution of marriage even more than my spouse or any temporary experience I may be having with my wife. I grew up in a broken home; my parents divorced when I was three years old. The divorce made life tough and presented a number of challenges for me over the years. It would have been much better if my parents had been able to stay together in a loving relationship.
The value of a loving marriage is often underestimated and under-appreciated. Surveys and studies repeatedly confirm, however, children do best (in virtually every conceivable area of measurement) when raised by their two biological parents in a low conflict setting. Loving, married families are better for kids than loving, divorced families. Loving, married families are even better for kids than loving, blended unions involving non-biological parents. Traditional marriage still matters.
Those of us who care deeply about marriage usually express this concern by focusing our attention and commitment on our spouse. But let’s face it, every marital relationship has ups and downs; peaks and valleys. There are times when we enjoy each other greatly and times when we enjoy each other “less greatly”. If you’re married, you know what I mean. It’s easy to be committed to your spouse in the good times, but in the hard times, it’s important to remain committed to your marriage, even when you may not be momentarily enthusiastic about your spouse. Marriage is more important than the person you happened to be married to.
Don’t misunderstand me. It’s my hope that my commitment to a loving, happy marriage results in a deep, committed, loving relationship with my wife. Commitment to one, results in commitment to the other. It’s possible to be in love with your spouse without being in love with marriage. But when times get tough and your love for your spouse is tested, it’s far easier to walk away from him or her if you don’t value marriage above everything else. If a happy, loving marriage is your goal, you’ll take great care to make sure your relationship with your spouse is in good shape.
If you’re a busy, over-extended police officer like I was for many years, it’s important to remember we are examples to our kids and the communities we’re sworn to serve. If we lovingly serve our communities yet fail to take care of our most important personal relationships, our inconsistency will eventually impact both groups.
If you’re struggling in your marital commitment, consider embracing the one relationship that ultimately changes all the others (including your marriage): begin a relationship with God. Our marital vows are a contract with God, the transcendent Creator of the Universe who wants a relationship with you. When our marriages reflect God’s power and presence, our impact on the next generation and the communities we serve will increase exponentially. Love your calling as a police officer more than you love your assignment or your agency, and love your marriage more than you love your spouse.