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Who Do You Trust? Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

Notice the title asks who DO you trust not who should you trust.

As law enforcement officers we consciously strive to earn the trust of two vastly different groups. Firstly we want the definitive and unquestioned trust of our comrades in arms, those with whom we share so much of our working lives and secondly we seek the undisputeded trust of those citizens whom we serve.

ImageYet when it comes to the trust of our own family members we often tend to assume that trust is unquestionably present and unbreakable. So my question to you right now is can you or anyone who knows you honestly answer the question: Who Do You Trust?

Let's take some time here to think about our answers. Let's also make a list of some of your possible answers: My Sergeant, Other Deputies or Officers, My friends (how many real friends do you have?), My Family (do you really act like you trust them). It's a shame but there are not many people in whom we LEOs or service men and women completely place our trust. Some folks may rightly question our lack of trusting others while we ask for or sometimes even demand their trust in return.

As we get started on our little journey, I have a few questions for you as I always do. Why is trusting others so hard for those of us in law enforcement and to some degree for those of us in military service? Do you think the shared experiences and danger we face play a role in the developing of this trust? How important to you is the Brotherhood of the badge or the Brotherhood of arms if we include those in military service? What does your badge or uniform mean to you? I am sure you indicated earlier that you trusted Cops or fellow soldiers, sailors airmen or Marines, but, did you include all of them? Do you trust recruits, officers from other agencies, or other services or other parts of the country?

Things were a little different 40 years ago when I entered these professions. There was no "Job vs Occupation" confusion. Law enforcement was a calling and to some degree so were the Armed Forces. They represented a way of life that appealed to a certain type of individual and both careers were demanding mistresses; mistresses that at times demanded that an unquestionable bond of trust exist between those operating under the umbrella of their purview.

In order to understand just what it is to trust or be trusted, there are some critical facts about trust which will compel us to look at just what real trust demands.

  • Trust like Respect must be Earned and yet it must also be Freely Given
  • Trust forges bonds that are as Strong as Steel and yet are as Fragile as the finest Crystal
  • Initially Trust will build rapidly but rebuilding a broken Trust may take forever

It's time for me to ask you another question, "Who Should You be Trusting?"

The Bible leaves no doubt as to that answer, but is this answer your response?

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  (MKJV)

I want you to look up and read carefully the words of an old Andre Crouch Gospel Song: "Through it all." After all my years in harness, I can relate to the words of that song as closely as I can relate to Christ Himself.

Let's look at more closely at some very crutial spouse and family trust issues for a moment now, shall we?

Many of you may have been married when you started your LEO or Military Careers but I am sure many of you wern't. Next question: were your spouses or fiancees aware of the impact this career would have on your persona? Did you, infact, really understand the demands your chosen profession would place on your life and the subsequent changes you would undergo?

Now its time for some hard questions: (Though the answers should be simple ones)

Do you love your spouse? Do you trust your spouse? How Much? As much as you did when you were dating? How important a part of your life was that person and how much of your job and yourself did you share with them back then? Has that changed? Why? Why did you get married? Is your marriage and family more important than your job? Is it more important than your peers or your buddies?

You need to realize several important facts about your life.

The First fact is that your job is temporal; retirement is inevitable.

The Second fact is that your marriage is until death parts you. (Unless you willingly lied to God)

Lastly your Oath of Office was not a Sacrament, Your Marriage Vows were.

Another Key Point I have learned, and not without making a few mistakes along the way, is that

The bonds of trust holding your marriage and family together require more substantualy more attention than those bonding you to the job or your fellow officers.

I also want you to never forget the following admonitions from God Himself:

Genesis 2:18:

And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him

Genesis 2:22

And the LORD God made the rib (which He had taken from the man) into a woman. And He brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:24

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.

"What God has joined together, let no man put asunder"

Developing trust within your family should be an easy matter, but for many military and law enforcement families it seems to be a difficult and daunting task. Partly, I believe, because it requires a sacrificial effort on the part of both the husband and the wife. It requires the sharing of both love and respect and a joint focus on such areas as:    

Spiritual Growth and Nurturing                     (Studying)      

Interpersonal Communication                         (Listening, not preparing your counterpoint)

Confirmed Feedback and Understanding         (Not Commanding)    

Supportive Teamwork                                   (Sharing each others burdens and joys)

As much as we would like them to be, our families are not clairvoyant. This fact often leads us to the critical and too often overlooked area of Communication. This area is usually the most common obstacle of any we may encounter since we men speak a different language than our spouses. Men and some women especially true of those who are cops, speak an emotionless language based on Respect and Facts while most women speak an emotional language based on Compassion and Relationships. Compound this inate complexity with the self imposed stress reduction methods common to both the military and our law enforcement profession (Sex, Alcohol, Tobacco and other drugs, Profanity and the dreaded "Wall of Silence") and is it any wonder that when we fail to triage our own spiritual and emotional deficiencies and problems that chaos reigns in our lives?

Because we become experts at non-verbal communication we therefore assume that everyone we encounter has the same talent, they don't.  (Did your last recruit? or for you military readers Could your last Ensign or 2LT read your mind?)

As Cops and service men and women we often expect our families to understand without being told that we are always on the job, always hyper-vigilant and always protecting them, just like we protect the citizens of our communities... Thus... is it any wonder we eventually begin to treat family members like the civilian citizenry we police and protect while we inadvertently begin to transfer our close personal relationships unconsciously to our comrades in arms whom we feel we don't have to shield from the evil we encounter because they experience it right along with us.

Even though we don't want to expose our families to what we see and experience during our shifts or tours of duty, this defensive posture we espouse is a real danger of our profession and a key ingredient in the breaking up of many military and law enforcement families; because instead of experiencing the support and help of the spouse our God provided, we isolate them and unintentionally make them feel like they are not a part of the team and that we do not need them. Military wives and Male officers' wives see this as a lack of love and female officers' and servicewomen's husbands see it as a challenge to their position within the family structure and a lack of respect.

In both cases when we fail to trust our spouses' enough to share the knowledge of what we really face... Those things that cause us to withdraw from and compartmentalize our emotions... while expecting them to Trust us and Respect enough to allow us to overcome these unspoken pressures and our ability to face them alone... We construct a contradiction in TRUST!

It is characteristically understandable that we feel we need to protect our families and that is fine but who then do we turn to or trust to protect us or to help us when we confront our inevitable crises?

The answer is simple. God! You see, God can do it. However, He would like us to be a little more alert than the man on the roof of his flooded house praying for God to save him while he rejects the helicopter and RHIB team that come by to rescue him.

Those of us who work in law enforcement and/or serve in the armed forces of our country are by necessity going to encounter daily the folks who Paul tells us to avoid in Chapter 3 of II Timothy. So God prepares us well for duty among these people. He provides us with His wisdom through the Holy Spirit and His love manifested for us by Christ in Spirit and our spouse, our families and other Christian Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Cops we know in the flesh as well as His full armor as described in Ephesians Chapter 6.

Rejecting or ignoring any of these means of support and relying on our own understanding and capabilities does not seem very wise to me. Yet the more proficient we become at solving other peoples problems and ignoring or repressing our own vulnerability, the more godlike we may tend to become. Trusting ourselves to solve the problems we won't even acknowledge exist. It seems to me that we need some spiritual first responder re-training.

Strengthening Your Marriage

Couples who are trying to repair or strengthen a weakening or lukewarm marriage are definitely faced with a challenge. Rebuilding the shattered bonds of trust and infusing the partnership with the love that should have increased and not decreased throughout the years takes introspection, repentance, forgiveness and a lot of patience and effort.

I love my wife and cherish and understand the importance of her role in my professional lives, my personal life and our family far better today than I did on our wedding day. I just wish that I showed her that emotion more often than I did.

I have a little homework for you to do this week. (And maybe it will take a little longer if you really want to strengthen your married and spiritual lives)

  • Take time to discuss what you and your spouse each need from the other.
  • Talk about things that you would like to see more of (or less of) from your partner.
  • Do not become defensive with each other.
  • When one spouse gets excited or angry, the ideal strategy for the other is to try to defuse the anger by soothing , not placating, his or her partner.
  • Avoid going to war-dredging up the past-will only fuel the fires of conflict and weaken the relationship already on its last legs.
  • Couples in trouble will usually benefit from engaging in fair fighting. In this technique, each partner listens to the other without being vicious or defensive-or striking back with hurtful insults or references to the past.

Ask yourself what you are doing to contaminate your relationship?

Each partner brings emotional issues from the past and the present into the current state of your relationship. Be sure to examine what you are bringing into the dynamic and not spend so much time focusing on what your partner is doing. Don't forget the issues generated by the job.

Have you built an emotional wall? I think it is not a question of if, but for most of us the question is how high a wall have you built?

Most law enforcement personnel construct emotional walls that prevent them from truly becoming close with their family. As you attempt to bridge this obstacle between you and your partner remember that you built the wall so you have to dismantle your own emotional wall - nobody can do it for you.

Make an effort to communicate from the heart

When speaking to your partner, especially in a time of crisis, be sure that you are speaking from the heart and not simply saying the words that you think he or she wants to hear. No man or woman wants to be placated, am I right?

Ask yourselves if you've ever really met each other.

It is possible to be married for years and still not truly know each other. Many people hide behind social masks - a protective measure to be sure, but one that also keeps friends and family from really understanding them. Take the time to get to know yourself; it is a process that will ultimately lead to others knowing you as well.

I know this defense mechanism is true because I have lived this experience for many years. My wife knew the bold, confident, macho Marine who seemed ready to confront anything the world could muster up and throw at him long before she me the real me. It was nearly 20 years into our marriage and over 15 years into my law enforcement career and after the trials and errors of a marriage longer than most of you have been married that she met the real me. The insecure little boy whose mother died when I was 5 years old and who learned to hide from the reality of about 12-15 step mothers and cohabitation partners my dad went through trying to find a peace he never did.  As well as the life of being shuttled around from grandparent to grandparent to aunt and uncle or even to friends I met in school's homes while attending 17 schools before graduating from high school.

There is a lot more to that history but you get the idea. I wasn't proud of what I did in order to survive or of the feelings of inadequacy I inherited from the very dysfunctional family life I experienced as a child. But rather than use it as an excuse, I chose to build an image of confidence that shielded me from reality. That is the first image my wife saw, yet when this God provided partner finally was slowly exposed to the real me it made no difference and we forged together through our trials as a team. I found it even easier to fill the role I had constructed for myself by allowing myself to accept her help and God's help.

In parting, as I bring this message to a close, I want to tell you military and law enforcement spouses that you are real patriots - the sort of citizens that everyone should be, but so few people are. You live with sacrifice, because you believe in the rights and ideals that your spouse defends. Although you wear no uniform, you are an integral part of that defense - a vital link in the chain of freedom, liberty and justice. Although you may wear no rank or no badge and will harvest little glory on the field of battle, you are a hero in the truest sense of the word. You are a military or law enforcement spouse."


Final Commitment

In Your Marriage Keep God FIRST!

Pray Together!

Respect and honor each other!

Encourage each other and grow together!

Spend time together with the Bible

Be swift to hear & slow to speak!

Communicate with each other daily!

Honor your marriage!

Do not let others come between your spouse!

Thank God daily for your Mate & your Life together!

"Love" is a commitment, not a feeling!


God bless you all and Stay Safe!


Chaplain (Col) Ray Fairman

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