Last summer we decided to put in a security system to monitor our home while we are away during the winter months. It seemed like a good idea; we could monitor the thermostat remotely to make sure the furnace was working and the security system would alert if someone entered via door or window, or if motion detectors were tripped. We actually live in a very safe neighborhood, but being gone for 3 months seemed like a long time to rely on friends/neighbors to check on our house periodically.
We use the system at night as well, putting it in the "arm stay" mode. This turns off the motion detector, but will alarm if doors or windows are opened.
I realized last fall that Jim is not able to arm or disarm the system without looking at a very short list of instructions. It's pretty basic; 3 steps for arming and 2 steps for disarming. (Example: disarming requires touching the red bar and then entering our password.) Our password is one that we have used for years for our garage door opener. Every morning and every evening I always ask him if he wants to arm/disarm, or if I should do it. He always says, I'll do it, but you watch me. He faithfully puts on his reading glasses and pulls out the instructions, and proceeds to do it under my watch.
Well, the other morning he awoke before I did, and according to him, he saw "a lot of smoke" outside. He opened an outside door to check it out, and you guessed it, the alarm went off. (The smoke he saw was simply the vent for our gas furnace to the outside.)
Meanwhile, I awaken. I am still not quite awake, but Jim starts to tell me that "the smoke alarm went off" (it didn't) and "I went outside to check out the smoke I saw". Next thing I know the police are knocking at our door. I'm still fuzzy trying to figure out what had happened (after all, it is only 6:00AM). The police were very nice, said don't worry, these things happen. Sigh.
I finally figured out that what Jim thought was the smoke alarm was actually the security alarm that went off when he opened the outside door. He felt bad afterwards. I tried to make light of it so he wouldn't worry about it. I think it really made a huge impression on him, with the police showing up. The next day he was still talking about it, and saying he would from now on make sure that the alarm system was off before he opened any doors in the morning. I encouraged him to wake me up, if I was still sleeping so that we could "do it together". He liked that idea :-)
More and more I am filtering almost everything, trying to evaluate how decisions will impact Jim. I'm getting better at it, I think. It's not just for Jim's sake, but for mine as well. Easy does it, one day at a time, keep your cool. So cliche, but so true.