Louisville police detective Mike Smithers doesn’t always open up about his job to his wife of nine years, but after a seven-week marriage enrichment course the couple just took, he said the lines of communication are getting much better, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. “It opened up a dialogue for us,” said Smithers, who credits the class with helping his wife better understand his job and helping him realize he needs to be a bit more open about what he’s dealing with.
The course is part of a pilot program sponsored by the Louisville Metro Police Department’s chaplain that is aimed at combating the high divorce rate among officers. The program finished in December and a new session started last week. Divorce rates among police officers are estimated to approach 80 percent, said Ken Pagano, the chaplain organizing the program. The nation’s divorce rate for all people who have ever been married has never exceeded 41 percent. “It’s a difficult world for police officers,” said Pagano. Using a DVD series featuring Dr. Emerson Eggerich, an expert in family and communications, Ken and Evelyn Snider lead discussions in the classes, which are meant to provide building blocks for strong relationships. The Sniders, who have been married for 47 years, have attended and led marriage seminars and retreats in several states. Maj. Troy Riggs, the department’s chief of staff, began thinking about a way to offer support to officers after hearing story after story of marriages in trouble.