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Is my heart ruling over my head?



  • TonyJ2021 said:

    My work choices are having an impact on my relationship and I have really exhausted my thinking…Not sure if this type of post is welcome here and apologies for the length of it. 

    Back in 2019, I applied to become a Police Officer, which is something I had always wanted to do. At the age of 27, I started working as a civilian staff member in 2016 in my local force. I hadn’t intentions of applying as an Officer, due to the expected arrival of our first child, but at the time of joining, the force had been going through a large recruitment scheme for Police Officer's and I continually thought to myself "should or shouldn't I". After 3 years of watching colleagues and friends sign up, I decided to take the plunge and applied.

    When I told my partner I had applied, it came to her as a bit of a surprise. To be honest, it was a spur of the moment thing when I had a couple hours spare at work that I decided to fill in the application form. But this was also off the back of some 'general' conversations we'd had about Police Officers, to which a couple of times I interpreted what she was saying as that I should do it. I regret not being up front about considering to apply before, which she rightly brings up a lot of the time when discussing.

    I received confirmation my initial application had been successful and that is when conversations at home start to get more difficult and emotional between me and my partner. On the day of my assessments, I was not even dressed 15 minutes before leaving, as I knew how my partner felt about my application and was really caught in two minds, but decided to go ahead with it – and I was successful. The day of my 1-2-1 interview, I hadn't heard from her all day and then when lying in bed, having been told a few hours earlier I’d been successful at that stage also, we got into an emotional debate which ended up with me in the most emotional state I've been in as an adult.

    I then passed the physical tests at the end of 2019, and subject to vetting, I was then awaiting a 'Start Date'. However, the day before, my partner told me she was pregnant with our second child, which was very much a surprise to us both. What came as a bigger surprise, was that when we went for our first scan, it was revealed she was in fact 27 weeks pregnant and due mid-March! Whilst the surprise was very pleasant, I knew this would have a knock-on effect with training, although I didn't know COVID would also have a bigger part to play…!

    Our second child was born at the end of February and after informing the recruitment team about this, the intention was still to start my training in April / May time. To add to things, in mid-April, my partner was told that her place of work would be closing down and that she would have to apply for a similar position at a different site, but this was an additional 30-minute drive away. She did so and got the job, going back earlier off maternity than planned for a few days a week, to get to grips with her new surroundings. 

    Due to COVID I eventually started my training in July 2020 and everything seemed to going be ok both at work and home, although again, prior to joining we did have some emotional conversations again. Sadly, towards the end of my training in September, I suffered a knee injury which lead to me being withdrawn from the course until fit again. I have since spent the last 7 months working in my old civilian team, working from home. This has not been ideal as it has really got me thinking about whether this job is right for me anymore or more importantly, my family?

    Through the process, my partners concerns have been around shift work and the impact on the children. I knew when applying the job would be incredibly unsocial at times, but felt for a bit of ‘short term pain’ there would be some ‘long term gain’, especially financially with the pay and pension structure, but also after probation period, better opportunities open up for roles that are slightly more family friendly – although not always guaranteed straight away, I admit.

    I am due to restart training again (from the beginning), but the past 7 months have left me feeling doubtful that I'm making the wrong decision and that in fact, I would have been better off staying in my old job, which was a great job to be honest. 



    It’s make me think:


    Should I have re-considered when my partner was forced to change her jobs, thus making getting our children to childcare less feasible? I.e – having to get them in a car on some mornings by 5:45am…? Is that really fair, even for a couple of years?


    Again, was the unexpected arrival of our second child a sign that I should be putting my family first and perhaps the job of a Police Officer wasn’t meant to be? Having been at home with two young children, especially when both have been poorly or up in the night, it’s made me think “my partner will have to do this on her own”?


    Was I blinded by envy / jealousy of my colleagues and friends joining up, all whom have no dependents?


    50% of me is screaming – you’ve got to at least try.

    50% of me is saying – don’t do it.

    Everybody I speak to is encouraging me to carry on doing so but I think that’s because they know me personally and haven’t necessarily had my partners viewpoint, just mine. It's what I always wanted to do but I know it’s more important to make sacrifices for our children. Since 2015, I have held 4 different jobs and everybody seemed so proud I was joining as a Police Officer, especially my parents who already have a picture of me in my uniform framed. So I feel that stepping away would also leave me embarrassed that I didn’t pursue with it. But walking away feels like an option that would take a big weight off my shoulders…


    So as the title says, have I let my heart in always wanting to become a Police Officer, rule my head in what I should be doing for the wider benefit of my family?


    What lead to you having 4 different jobs since 2015?  Different jobs within the same organisation?

    I don't think that either you or your partner are communicating with each other particularly well, you with your desire to become a police officer and your partner with her fears over you becoming a police officer.  You need to talk to each other, really talk to understand where each of you is coming from and to find a way forward that works for both of you.
  • TonyJ2021TonyJ2021 Forumite
    12 Posts
    Name Dropper First Post

    Thank you for all your replies. It’s very humbling that you’ve all taken time to first read my thread but also take time to reply, so thank you.

    To try and answer questions in one hit: 

    Our current childcare is mother-in-law. She already provides childcare Monday to Friday for both our boys and our 8-year-old niece, whom lives with mother-in-law. We couldn’t be more fortunate to pay very little towards childcare already, but the idea of paying for early morning childcare occasionally, went down like a lead balloon. It also rules out the possibility of mother-in-law coming to ours first thing in the morning, as she will have to be at home for our niece. We don’t have any other family close enough to be able to support the idea of coming to our house first thing. My partner has to leave the house at 6am every morning to be at work for 06:45, which is why such an early start for the boys to get them to childcare depending on the shifts, as some mornings I too will need to leave at 6 for an early shift or not be home until past 7am off a night shift.

    The pregnancy thing – we’ve worked out we conceived before my application went in, so this doesn’t really match up, although I appreciate your alternative point of view. At times I have certainly been made to feel guilty and she has made several comments, including last night when my eldest wanted a cuddle from me before bed and she says to him “you’ll have to get use to cuddles with just mummy soon, when daddy starts his shifts”. This isn’t a daily thing but certainly once or twice a week, a comment of this nature will creep out.

    The communication is certainly a problem for me. Every time we seem to start discussing the job and consider options, within a couple of minutes my partner is in tears. This is a big barrier for me, because on one hand I want to talk about it and on the hand I don’t, because it breaks my heart to see her upset all the time. I can’t lie when I say that seeing her get upset about all this really has started to take away some of the shine off the idea of being a Police Officer, which is what brought me here. It’s unfair of me to talk about her like this, without being able to defend herself and opinions, but I do find that most of the time she can be ‘half glass empty’ and always picks out negatives in ideas/suggestions and ruling things out before acknowledging the pros. Examples being; a couple of suggestions I’ve made in terms of our household, she has dismissed the ideas, then 3-4 months later she goes with the ideas herself…! 

    As for reasons of apprehension from my partner:

    Danger – of course this is something she doesn’t like the idea of me not coming home one day. However, to counter-balance that, I have reassured her and gone through the statistics of how rare a Police Officer gets killed in the line of duty – none in my county for over 20+ years. I’m more likely to be in an RTC on the way to and from work, than I am on duty. But I understand her point of view, especially with young children.

    Shift work – this is probably the biggest issue due to the unsocial nature of the first couple of years in probation. We have both held jobs that finished at 4 and involved no weekend work for the past 8 years. We have routine where my work allows me to take the boys to childcare and pick up again, so we’re all home by 5pm. The idea of me not being home during the night, the evenings where she has to put both children to bed on her own and the daytimes over the weekend, doesn’t enthuse her of course. Which again, I totally understand. However, my counter-balance was that I will be able to help more with childcare during the weekdays when I’m on days off and also, we will plan our time together better, as currently we tend to take each day as it comes.

    Lifestyle – the thing my partner regularly refers to is, “it’s a lifestyle you bring children into, not a lifestyle you bring into the children’s lives”. Again, I don’t disagree with what she is saying, but as I said to her, if I had progressed with my old job, chances are I’d have been on the road a lot and hours would have become a bit more unsocial; although not as much as being a PO. 

    In answer to the question behind the reason for my job changes was I was forced to change jobs back in 2015, due to my current job in a different sector coming to an end with it being a fixed-term funded post. I then did a couple of jobs in between joining the Police, which wasn’t really me but had to pay the bills. Then I got my foot in the door with the Police and this is where we are today.

    Throughout this whole process I knew this would have a big impact on our family, especially in the first couple of years through probation. The whole time I have said I will take every opportunity to make the lifestyle as best as possible for us all, and what might be ‘short term pain’, I certainly know there would be ‘long term gain’ for us all. Whilst my attitude shouldn’t be to get off shift work as quickly as possible, I know that I’m no longer 21 years old with no responsibilities or dependents. Therefore, I know if I want to make this work, I will have to consider the various opportunities in the force that would allow more flexibility at home. 

  • wannabe_a_saverwannabe_a_saver Forumite
    433 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Your partner sounds scared and worried, and that’s not unreasonable when it seems like she’d be going from having a pretty equal relationship with a partner who does his fair share with the kids and the domestic side, to one where her partner would be working long hours a lot, coming and going at unsociable hours and she would be picking up a lot of the slack alone. 

    What can you do to make it better for her? 
  • CookieMonsterCookieMonster Forumite
    220 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    As for her fear:

    Slightly old info, but policing doesn't even make it into the Top 10 UK most dangerous professions.

    Anything involving working at a height, or with/around heavy machinery, is far more dangerous.

    Police injuries, and the very few deaths, are very well publicised - much more than those of Lorry Drivers or Builders.  

    As before; the OP's partner is thinking only of herself, not of what is best for her children and family (including her partner) in the medium and long term.

    OP, best of luck moving forward with this.
    I started out with nothing and I still got most of it left. Tom Waits
  • edited 15 April 2021 at 1:05PM
    wannabe_a_saverwannabe_a_saver Forumite
    433 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 15 April 2021 at 1:05PM
    My dad was in the police, he was a very loving and hands on dad and we have always had a good relationship, but his shifts did mean my mum had to pick up a lot of the slack, and her work always came second.  She only started her career, that she was passionate about, once we were teenagers. 

    Being the partner of a serving officer with young children is a big ask, no point pretending it isn’t, and it’s not something she knew she was signing up for before starting the family as it was for my mum.

    Dismissing her fears and concerns is not the way to go.
  • sherambersheramber Forumite
    16.7K Posts
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    My neighbour was a nurse working shifts. Her husband was an airport  fireman, working shifts.

    They had two children and managed, although she did say sometimes they were like ships passing in the night.

    The problem of early starts is no bigger than your shifts.

    Why is only your job being considered the problem. . She could change to a job that did not require such an early start.

    Marriage should be give and take, not all give by one and all take by the other.

  • mamanmaman Forumite
    27.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Effectively, your partner is expecting you to be around every morning to accommodate her very early start but doesn't want you to change your working hours. 

    The comments about not getting cuddles from daddy are cheap. They'd get  plenty of cuddles but at different times. 

    If your MIL is happy for you to drop them off early when you're working an early shift (or for your partner to drop them off on her way to work) then I think the children will cope well enough. They won't really remember anything different.  I'm sure you know you're very fortunate to have 'free' childcare. You might want to start looking close to where MIL lives for nurseries for when you get your free hours. IIRC it's at age 3.

    I'm sure you'll find plenty of ways of pulling your weight around shiftwork. You could do any amount of shopping/cooking/ cleaning/laundry on your days off which would give your partner more free time when she's at home.  
  • TonyJ2021TonyJ2021 Forumite
    12 Posts
    Name Dropper First Post
    My dad was in the police, he was a very loving and hands on dad and we have always had a good relationship, but his shifts did mean my mum had to pick up a lot of the slack, and her work always came second.  She only started her career, that she was passionate about, once we were teenagers. 

    Being the partner of a serving officer with young children is a big ask, no point pretending it isn’t, and it’s not something she knew she was signing up for before starting the family as it was for my mum.

    Dismissing her fears and concerns is not the way to go.

    Thanks for the reply. Certainly not dismissing her concerns and fears and doing everything I can to alleviate them. However, its a bit like me with flying - no matter how much people tell me it's the 'safest form of travel', I'll never be 100% confident to fly. Poor analogy I know, but my point being, however much I reassure her, I don't think I'd win her round.

    We've been together for 11 years now and recently got engaged. I would consider us to have a strong relationship and I have every confidence we are strong enough to get through the initial period on shifts, before other opportunities arise. 

    If anything, it's been very much the other way round. Her career so far has been the one that has seen me pick up a lot of the slack as she is out of the house for the best part of 11 hours a day, Monday to Friday. I've always said that her job would come first in all this, as she is longer standing in her current role, which she enjoys and gets paid well. I'd never tell her what to do and would always support her with decisions.

    To add - the early starts for the children would be a maximum of twice in a 10 day period, sometimes once, sometimes none, due to how the shift pattern falls, so isn't a considerable amount.
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