Friday, September 11, 2009

18 Years of Being a Firefighter's Wife: Lessons I've Learned

I have been a firefighter's wife for over 18 years now. We have struggled and we have triumphed over many things. I wish I would have known a few things at the beginning of my marriage that I know now. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way on many an occasion.

First, having my husband gone for 24 plus hours is different than most people's situations. The shift work can drive you crazy if you let it. You don't get to have any relief like your friend's husbands who come home from their eight to five jobs. It's you, Baby! You and only you for 24 hours. You need to go into it thinking, "This is going to be hard work, but I can do it. God give me the strength that I need for THIS day."

Second, my expectations were way too high. Just because we make plans for dinner, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays, does not mean they will come to pass. Fires happen, overtime comes, and medical calls never cease. I used to get so stressed out and angry when Steve would choose to go on a call instead of choosing to be with his family. Sometimes he would go in for overtime thinking that it would be two hours and he would get stuck and miss whatever event that we had planned. Then there is the 24 hour overtime shifts. Sweet for the pocket book, but hard on the family. The kids don't understand why Dad has to be gone for two days and you are left with whatever plans you had as a family that day. Sometimes you have to cancel them, or you just have to buck up and do it all by yourself. It used to frequently make me want to cry, but there is no use in fighting it. It is what it is. It is my husband's way of providing for his family. Praise God he is so faithful at it. I try not to get angry anymore. I try to be understanding and grateful.

Third, be careful when he walks in that door in the morning. Don't just start piling on the lists or complaints of what this child did and what "heck" you have been through the last 24 hours on the home front. You don't know what he has seen or done. He might have been up since 1:00 a.m. on a fire or a plane or car wreck. I learned this the hard way. Several years back, my husband came home in the morning and was unusually quiet. I remember nagging and complaining to him about something. I thought he was just being a grump and pushed even more. Later that afternoon, he finally told me that he had been on a SIDS victim. He was trying to come to grips with it in his mind. I noticed him holding his children tighter and not getting so frustrated with them. Was I a safe person for him to talk with? No, I had my own agenda. It broke my heart. Firefighters are special people. They are not usually very emotional and they deal with the stuff they see differently than most people. It is what makes them able to do their job. Be available, always if they want to talk. Consider it a privilege that they would share their feelings with you at all. Most of them don't talk about their feelings with each other, instead they use a morbid sense of humor to deal with the stuff they see.

Fourth, always ask if they slept. This is my way of being nosey in a sneaky way. He isn't just going to tell me about all the calls he has. He considers 85% of the calls that he goes on bogus anyway. He isn't going to waste his breath telling me about the heavy lady that fell for the 3rd time that day that called to have them pick her up and put her back in bed, or the stupid fire alarms that go off automatically at 3:00 in the morning. If I ask how he slept, then he sometimes says, "I didn't get to sleep until 3:00 a.m." That lets me know immediately to have very low expectations of him in the morning. I tell him to go take a nap if he needs too. Most of the times he opts out, but at least he knows that I understand his need for sleep. This keeps me from being angry and resentful when he isn't helping out more or not doing his honey-do list. Also, this opens the conversation to let him know that I'm listening if he does need to talk about a bad call.

Fifth, do not call or text them all the time while they are on the job! Firewives, you don't want to be known as "so and so's wife, that can't handle anything while he is away." Yes, they talk about you! They analyze relationships just like we do. They can sense also if you are respectful to your husband. When I learned the art of respecting my husband in front of others, I truly believe he was more respected at his job as well. My husband is always telling me how much he appreciates it that I don't call him or text him constantly while he is at the station. He says he enjoys knowing that I can handle things while he's away. I'm not saying that I never call or text him. If I do have a financial question or scheduling question, I try to always call on his lunch break or after five.

That is all I can think of right now. If you are a firefighter wife, would you please comment and let me know what kind of lessons that you have learned? I am very interested and I know others will be as well.

P.S.  Due to the large number of negative comments I have been receiving on this blog about firefighters, I feel I need to remind readers that this is supposed to be a place of ENCOURAGMENT, not a place to bash husbands or firefighters in general. To generalize any group of people is wrong. Yes, firefighters cheat but so do many other people in many other professions. This does not make them all cheaters. I will not approve comments such as these. It isn't fair to the wonderful, hardworking, firefighers who are admirable and trustworthy. If you are having a hard time trusting your firefighter, please go see a professional counselor to see if you can work through those issues and give you wisdom of what to do in your unique situation. 

95 comments:

Parsley said...

A volunteer firefighter's life is different and I'm thankful my husband is home in the evenings.

Today, I've been up since 3 AM, when his pager went off. I couldn't go back to sleep and will try to function with school and a party I'll host tonight. He's at his regular job...trying to stay awake!!

It's hard on us both...yawn.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Being a military wife is very similiar. All these tips can applied to military wives as well. Great post!

Connie said...

Great post with lots of excellent tips any wife would do well to learn. Our husbands carry some pretty heavy burdens sometimes. Most of them hate coming home to 'honey do lists'.

Keep up the good work.

CB said...

I agree about the military wife thing, these are really wonderful tips!

Scrapingirl said...

You hit the nail on the head. I have nothing more to add. :)

Deb said...

My hubby is over maintenance at our local hospital and we get called all hours of the night, weekends, holidays---even on vacation sometimes!!! It can be frustrating at times, but very often someone's life is hanging in the balance because of equipment going down....when you look at things from that perspective...you can more easily handle your disappointment.
Great post!
Blessings!
Deb

Rachel said...

Hi I am not a firefighter's wife but I am a girlfriend and soon to be firefighter's wife. I have learned lesson through out the 4 years of being with my firefighter and asking if they have slept is a major key one! I really think hat readng your post is going to make me understand alot more better than I have before reading this post. Thank you for sharing!

Cat said...

Oh, my; what great reminders for ALL of us. Some are more appropriate than others, but they can all apply in some way, Stacie. You are such an obedient child of God; You are such a good wife. I think God smiles with joy at you all the time!

Jennifer said...

goodness, girl! I'm not near as structured as you may think. I don't know how you do it with six but I guess it gets a little easier the more they can read on their own! Yeah....I bet your hubby does freak out about the seatbelt not being used properly!

atpanda said...

The advice that I get to wives of new fire fighters is: don't fight the schedule, embrace it! There's nothing you can do about the fact that they're going to miss holidays, or that you're going to have to go to parties alone occasionally. But the reward is 'me' time! I love my me time when Ryan's at work. Of course I love 'us' time more, but I realize how lucky I am to have time to myself AND time with him.

Hayley said...

Well, that post hit the nail on the head. So true, every single part.

Texting is something I do a lot for Daniel- he can read it at his convenience and I don't text asking for responses. Usually more along the lines of- "I heard you guys go out, I'm praying for you."

I try to really limit my time at the station as well as phone calls. I don't want my kids to be a frustration to anyone- the time that we are able to visit is "break time" and I want to leave that as stress free as possible for everybody.

But on the flip side, I try to make the effort to see Daniel once - briefly- while he is on duty, especially on 48 or 72 hour shifts. He appreciates it. Five minutes connects him to the kids and gives him a little grounding. This is something I had to learn. I thought, hey, if I can't go down and spend and hour with him in the evening watching football or whatever, then I'm not going. But I didn't realize how much just a short visit meant to him. So I do it for him. :)

Wow, there is just something that resonated in me, reading your words. You GET IT. No one else understands quite the same way! Thank you!

Morgan said...

14 years, now that is a long time! I'm glad you posted this- it's hard to find support for wives of firefighters.

A couple things I've learned-

1. Be more compassionate to women who are not used to having their husbands gone overnight. I need to get better at this one though. I tend to mentally *sigh* when I hear someone complain that their husband is gone for a night when they usually have him home every other night of the year.

2. Learn to make the most out of holidays and birthdays when fire hubby is working. I'm so bad with this one right now, perhaps because my kids are so little. At some point, though, I need to start making special times with my kids even if daddy does have to work on mother's day, Christmas, and birthdays. It's hard not to feel sad when they're not there on special days, though...

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Morgan, those are really good ones! Thanks for adding to the list!

The Sierra Home Companion said...

I feel so blessed to have found your blog. I am a fireman/paramedics wife of 6 years. We have 2 children, 4 and 2 years old, and everything you wrote I can completely relate to. Our lives do not opperate in the typical 9-5pm world. Daddy does not come home for 48hrs and yes that has been hard on the kids as there growing. For me, sense we have been married this life is all I've known. I have shed many tears over lost time with him, but God gives back is such wonderful unexpected ways.
Check out my blog at www.thesierrahomecompanion.com. I have not yet addressed the fireman wife in me;) but I have other life lessons.

Jennifer Torres said...

Being a military firefighter's wife, I can relate to everything on this list. Thanks so much for the great post!

Amber Scott said...

Well I'm new to the firefighters life and I'm praying that I can deal with it, seeing that I am 22 years old and my husband and I have three kids ( ages 4, 3, and 1) and are expecting our fourth in early november. I just hope he doesn't miss the birth of his child, but with him being an emt and firefighter I just have this gut feeling that he won't be there. Your post was very helpful to a newbie like me and I appreciate it much.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Wow! I wrote this post over four years ago. Been 18 years now. Nothing has changed. Glad you were blessed by it. Keep your expectations low, very low. ;)

Abigail Culleton said...

I think you nailed it on the head. I have been married to a fireman from almost 4 years now. I know that he loves his job, I always joke with him that when I win the lotto he can stay at home and quit his job. And he always responds with "No Way" he loves what he does and the men he works with and I truly believe that being a fireman is what God has called my husband to do, along with the rest pf ypur husbands.

Does it get hard when he is not there? Yes! Do I get sacred knowing that he will be gone for 48 hours? Yes! And do I miss him more then anything in the world when he walks out the door at 4:30am to head to work for the next two days, Of Course, we all do.

One thing I will add is that when Sean leaves for work I know that he is in Gods hands along with all the other brave firemen out there. And that I have to trust in my husband and the rest of the men on his crew to think smart! But most importantly I HAVE TO TRUST IN GOD, that he will get the most important thing in my life home safey in 48 hours!

Great blog!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

So true, Abigail! Thanks for your thoughts!!!

Habeib Khan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Do not marry a volunteer firefighter,they don't know how to let go of it.I have supported and encouraged for nearly 20 years.It wasn't enough,he has listened to countless tales of marriage breakdowns and breakups.He can't be bothered to work on his own.His refuge is the fire hall and his buddies there.Wifes and families come in second.

Becky said...

I know this is an old post, but just wanted to say that this was so helpful to me. My husband is a fulltime firefighter & paramedic & we've been married for 8 years. I am still learning every day how I can be a better wife to my husband with the unique spin his job places on our marriage. Thank you for all the wonderful advice...I will be coming back for more!

Mel said...

Thank you for sharing your Wonderful words of advice!! You've nailed it on the head the Fire Fighter Family Lifestyle! :) It is such a different lifestyle then an 8-5 job, not that 8-5 is something less, it's just a very different lifestyle and it's hard for others to understand. My husband has been a medic and fire fighter for 8 years now and it has been an up and down journey for sure! I love the family we've gained from it! Some of my closest friends are some of the fire wives and sisters! It is hard doing things alone, but so worth it and worth to see them happy and love what they are doing! One thing we've done that I think has been very helpful, is we created a Fire Sisters Facebook Page. This way we can all stay connected as well and help one another out, and stay up to date with what's happening! When I came into the family, I almost felt I was intruding. It was easy for my husband to start bonding because he works so closely with the men, but I felt like I could never remember who was married to who, and especially when Part timers come in, So many faces that looked familiar but couldn't remember :) So we created this page and so we could all develop a closeness of our own and understanding. So we could connect with women going through the same thing we are! And most importantly so we could rally around our men together as one because it's very important to keep that unity of their brotherhood at the station but also at home! :) Like I said, some of my closest friends now I met through the fire family and I love being able to call or text them and vent because they understand completely what I'm going through, and then it's not something that I vent and complain to my husband when he gets off shift all the time. Number 3 is hard for me because it is NEVER a great time to discuss life in ways when they work such a demanding schedule! :) But I'm still learning!!! Thank you again for sharing your story!!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I love your ideas Mel! Thanks for stopping by and sharing them. I was encouraged just by reading that :)

ra said...

My husband of 29 years retired 3 years ago. It is wonderful to see support for firefighter's wives on posts like these. One thing that I can tell you is that you will be glad for the flexibility you have developed with schedules as your family gets older. Our three boys are grown and have families of their own. One is a firefighter. On holidays or special occasions we put no pressure on any of them to have to be with us. We know that we can celebrate Thanksgiving a week late or Christmas on the 23rd or the 28th and it is still just as special. We have the fire department to thank for that and it makes it so much easier on them!

Anonymous said...

Hi, as a working mom, I feel blessed to be married to a firefighter. Why? Thanks to my husband and my mom my twins never saw the inside of a daycare until they were 18 months old. Now that they are 3, they attend daycare as little as 2 but no more than 4 days a week--no more than most preschoolers enrolled in a preschool program. My sons have a very special relationship with their dad. Most of my friends that are working moms have their kids in daycare 5 days/week since they were infants. We are blessed.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

What a blessing to not have to send your kids to childcare till 18 months. I am so grateful that God allowed me to stay home too. My husband's job is such a blessing.

Anonymous said...

My Boyfriend wants to become a fireman, and I've been scared about how dangerous the job can be?
is anyone else scared about the job your husbands do or does it get easier? I just want to be as prepared as possible, and I know like anything you can never be fully prepared for what could happen but reading everyones stories made it a little easier...I just wanted to know if you get scared?
Regards Newby

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I was scared at the beginning. But you truly do get used to it. Try not to worry. I know it is easy to say. The Lord will get you through whatever is to come. Most of the time our worries are truly unfounded.

Kasie said...

You pretty much nailed it all on the head! i have the same kinda of relationship with my hubby and its only bee 5 years.. Its hard!

Debtha said...

My husband is prior military, police and is now starting his first 24 hr shift as a firefighter. I work full time and we have two boys 2 and 1. I am so nervous and anxious. I don't know how we will adjust to the schedule. I'm happy for him and very proud but just very scared of all the changes.

Kami Morris said...

Hi. I will be getting married to a fire fighter next year. all the advice i plan on using to help me. id like to say that although it is a risky job, its not that it really scares me. i worry, yes but its kinda like half my heart is just always with him. this is his passion and God knows that so i think whatever Gods plan is, I'm willing to live it out with him.

Melissa Ventry said...

This is my husband's 1st year and I am having a very hard time with him being gone all the time. He works 72 hour shifts 5 hours from home so technically he's gone for 4 days. We have 2 small kids and i feel completely lost without him...i hate it but i try to lock up my feelings cause i know how much he loves his job. Does it ever get easier. .I'm so depressed i can barely handle my day to day stuff. I want to be happy for him and his hard work but Damn i miss him; and miss his 8-5 schedule. I feel so selfish :(

Melissa Ventry said...

Does it ever get easier? I feel so selfish but I hate my husband's shifts. This is his 1st year, he works 72 hour shifts 5 hours away from home so he's pretty much gone 4 days a week. I am so very proud of him for all he has aaccomplished but I'm kinda going crazy. I'm having a very hard time adjusting...thought it would get easier but actually feels like it's getting harder..

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Mel,

It is super hard when your children are little. You need a break! I would really work on making sure you get them so you don't go crazy. Especially if you are feeling depressed. Get plugged into a good mom's group at a church like MOPS. Google MOPS and find one near you. It was my lifesaver during those years. Knowing I would get a break from my kids and have an adult conversation for two hours was HUGE!

I think it will get easier. It takes time to adjust. Your husband's schedule is a killer. I can't imagine it. Mine is a modified Kelly schedule. So he has 24 on, 24 off, 24 on, 24 off, 24 on and then four days off in a row. I love it. Also, you have the added complication of the five our commute. I hope he can find something closer and that this is temporary. Praise God he has a job and is willing to be away from his family to provide for you. Hang in there and I will say a pray for you right now. I couldn't have made it during those years without the Lord. I depended on his for His sustaining me. I pray you can do the same.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

This post really spoke to me today. I have been with my firefighter for three years now, we love together in our beautiful house and share a wonderful life together. He just finished his probation on his first "big" department in the city... I have noticed that he has hardened. He is lacking so much emotion and has a very negative outlook on the world now. I keep trying to remind myself that firefighters are a different breed and they are special and deal with things differently than any of us will ever deal with things.. But I feel like it has caused such a divide between us. Reading this post has helped me realize that I am the key. I have to be strong and refrain from holding resentment when he comes home from shift and is not emotionally present. I feel very alone as talking with friends and family does not seem sufficient... As they don't understand. Thank you for sharing your advice. It really helps.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Thank you for commenting! I too have seen a cynical outlook on life from my husband. It helps to realize where it comes from and to not take it personally. My husband's form of PTSD comes with people driving stupid. He freaks out on them! I asked him one time "Why are you so angry?", he said, "Because I am the one who has to pick up the pieces when they are being stupid." It completely clicked. From then on, if I don't want to listen to him get angry at drivers, I need to be willing to drive. Simple fix. Hang in there!

Faithbased said...

Stacie, I read your blog every once in awhile for a bit of encouragement and also different perspective. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 6 years and he has been through 7 years to become a firefighter. I've been with him through it all and it has been exhausting for both of us. He finally has the job but also has a few more months of probation. Honestly, I've been off an on bitter about him not proposing to me. I know he wants to get married but this has eaten him up so long and he wants to know he is locked into the job. I feel emotionally drained. I sometimes wonder if I can handle this. I find myself always there for him emotionally but then he's never there for me cause all that matters is the job. Is this normal to feel this way? I mean I tottally am understanding and always try to be there for him and know they go through some really awful things. But when he doesn't reciprocate and act as if anything that goes on in my life isn't as important it makes me feel alone. how do you decide if you can handle it? The 48 hr shifts and the over time. I'm also a Christian and feel like church will be hard to be involved in without him. Since there's hardly a Sunday off and when there is its the only day to really spend time together. Does it get easier when you have kids? Does it make it feel less lonely?

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Dear Faithbased,

I fear you have backed yourself in a corner. The question is, are you living with him? If you are, than he is getting all the perks of a marriage without the commitment. Why should he propose? So if I am right and you are living with him, my advice to you is to step back, move out and then see if he is willing to commit to your relationship while not having the perks. It would be very difficult and most relationships don't survive this, but if he is as wonderful as you think he is, it will be worth it. Because truth is, you really don't have him all the way. I am sorry, I know this isn't what you want to hear, but if you put God first and honor your Him with your relationship you will know if this is His will for your life, depending on which direction your boyfriend takes. I will pray for you! If you aren't living with him, I believe you need to have a serious talk about commitment and him taking advantage of you. It is time he step up and be a husband. Don't make excuses for him, treasure yourself enough to know that you are worth it! God loves you! Prayers headed your direction right now.

Anonymous said...

I am a soon to b firefighters wife. everytime his pager goes off in the middle of the night i can never fall back asleep. Why? I know he's safe and the guys at the station are never going to let anything happen to him so why can't i go back to sleep when his pager goes off insted of getting up while he's getting dressed or taking a shower?

Anonymous said...

I'm still learning, my firefighter boyfriend used to talk about the future, marriage and kids with me and just recently he has cut off all emotions and also "doesn't know" if he sees a future. . . I'm so confused.

Has anyone been through this? I don't know how to handle it.

Anonymous said...

AAAAAMEN! I'm soon to be a firefighter's wife and these tips were EXTREMELY helpful! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Glad to help!

Anonymous said...

Been a firefighter's wife now for nearly 19 years. I've learned all that you've discussed. Another good lesson to learn is prepare to feel disconnected ALL the time! My husband is gone for 48 hour shifts 5 times a month plus another part time job. I'm very use to being on my own a lot! Almost to the point that I feel like a single mother most days. You just get so use to doing it on your own that you forget you have a spouse some days. This I never anticipated when I got married. You must be a very independent person to come out of this with your sanity. Not many can. A lot of the guys my husband works with have gotten divorced because their wives got lonely and cheated on them. I totally see how that could happen. It is very lonely at times. But I've learned a long time ago to appreciate all he does for his job and be truly proud of him and the sacrifices he makes day in and day out. Sure makes the days of being selfish seem pretty small.

Tausha said...

I stumbled across this blog after I literally googled "how to be a firefighter's wife". My husband & I are newly weds & have been married for two months. I'm quickly learning being a firefighter spouse is hard! I can't imagine adding kids to the mix! I really needed to read this tonight as it's almost midnight & I'm laying in bed & my husband is at work...on his day off. It's so difficult for me not to take it personally when he gets called in. For example, this morning when we hadn't even made it out of bed yet & his phone rings for him to go in. I immediately grumbled & thought "but this is OUR day & I want you to sleep in OUR bed tonight. We didn't get to hang out any yesterday because you didn't get any sleep the night before & had to sleep went you got off (late, by the way)."

This really stood out to me: "Sometimes you have to cancel them (plans), or you just have to buck up and do it all by yourself. It used to frequently make me want to cry, but there is no use in fighting it. It is what it is. It is my husband's way of providing for his family. Praise God he is so faithful at it. I try not to get angry anymore. I try to be understanding and grateful." I'm going to work on that.

Thank you for your post!!

Brittany said...

My boyfriend is a seasonal wildland firefighter and can be gone for up to 30 days with no cell service. We have email capabilities and we send letters back and forth but I usually get a few sentences a day from him. I seriously miss his voice and face but don't want to burden him with my own concerns. How can I support him? Do you have any other advice?

Anonymous said...

Hello, just wanted to say thank you for writing this blog! I am a volunteer firefighters wife, we've been married one year and together for 10, we have a 3 year old and a one year old. It is very true that firefighter are a special breed. My husband used to always tell me about this book that he read that said everyone has a purpose on this earth and that he didn't know what his was yet. We have been friend's with many of the guys from our county halls for a long time but 3.5 years ago they convinced him to apply. He went through school and when he came back from his first call he looked at me and said "this is why I'm here". I could not be more proud of him! They are our second family. I know he is safe. They take care of each other and they take care of each others families. When it's time for fun, they know how to have a good time. My husband works out of town during the day and whenever he is in town he is on call. I have been fortunate that he hasn't missed anything super important, I did have to bottle all the wine for our wedding because he was at a huge fire but I had my bridesmaids and groomsmen to help!! But even though I know they all look out for each other, there is still that thought in the back of your head "I hope he'll be ok". I do not ever want to see that fire truck pull up in front of my house. I lay in bed awake when he is gone. Sometimes I sit outside on the porch if the kids are asleep. I don't call or text because I know someone needs him more than me. I can handle that. Just like firefighters are a special breed, I believe that so are their wives!! What I need to work on is learning how to help him through the hard ones. This blog spoke to me because he too recently came home from a 3 month old SIDS call. I just held him as he held our kids. I didn't know what else to do.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Brittany, it sounds like you are doing an excellent job! Just keep being supportive. I doubt he enjoys being away from you that long either. :) Thank you for your comment!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Anonymous,

It sounds like you handled the SIDS situation perfectly. Good job! And you are right, we are a special breed too!

Ashley Niedzwiecki said...

Thank you SO much ladies for this post and the comments! I've been dating my firefighter for almost a year. He works for LA County and is extremely busy. Not only is he testing for Captain but he is also taking the AO test. Without support from some other FF girlfriends I think we wouldn't have made it this far. At times I feel like giving up because he works so much overtime then goes out of town with his family on his days off to escape the city..... he's also very quiet with his emotions and rarely talks about his days at work.... I always just get a response of "It was a late night" or "Yesterday was busier". I'm at a point where I don't know if he just doesn't care about me or if he's just that focused on his career right now he's trying to set up a good future for us? His father was a FF and his brother-in-law is one too. I wish I could find some women around here that are going through the same testing to pep talk me to get through this. It's hard to build a relationship when you only see each other 2-3 times a month. One girlfriend of mine told me the AO testing is the hardest point in a FF career and if I can get through this then I can get through anything with him. Thanks for letting me vent on here and I would appreciate any encouraging words to help me to not feel so alone. :)

Athena Beaulieu said...

Hello, I really enjoyed what you had to say it makes so much sense. Although I am not a wife I am a girlfriend of a firefighter/EMT and lately he's been working so much overtime he just comes home and does not want to do anything. I can relate in some ways because I have those days where I come home and don't feel like doing anything either. How do you deal with the fact that he never wants to be intimate because he is always tired. I'm really feeling down, not loved, and pushed away. I need some advice? Thank you!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I am sorry, I don't have any advice for you since I have never had that problem, Athena. Perhaps you could seek counseling, especially before you enter marriage with a firefighter/EMT. It has very high demands and you best be ready for it, or it will probably not last.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Ashley, You need to really consider whether you are cut out for this life-style or not. Because that is a typical Firefighter's schedule. Think about if you got married and had children. Are you able to be by yourself and be almost a single mother? Because that is how I feel much of the time. My philosophy is to keep my expectations very low. My time with my husband is limited so I want to make the most of it. If I am constantly disappointed then I will push away bitterly, and shut down emotionally. That is no way to live! Accept the things you can't change. If you can't accept them, then I would truly consider if this is the right relationship to be in. I hope the article above helped.

Anonymous said...

I love this post as well. I have been a fire girlfriend for 2 years and a wife for 1 and he works 48 hour shifts. Another thing that I constantly struggle with is that when he comes home I am wanting to catch up, start our day, do activities, update him on the happenings while he was gone etc. and he wants to go to sleep. This is by far the hardest thing for me. I can only imagine that this will get worse when we have children, but nice to know there are others out there who struggle with the same things. I also agree with Stacie that we need to keep our expectations low- not in a condescending or mean way, but so that we don't put our disappointment on our hero:)
Thoughts and prayers with all of you ladies! Just remember that we help them do their job to the best of their abilities and that without our support it would be a lot more difficult.
-Rachel

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Thank you Rachel! I appreciate your insight. I think you are being very wise and full of grace. Let him sleep and catch up later when he is rested.

Angela Satterfield said...

Wow, 6 years later your post is still reaching women! This is great! I can relate to everything you said. We have been married 17 years and 15 of those my husband has been involved in emergency calls as a paramedic, 11 years as a full time firefighter/paramedic. The day I went into labor with our first child, my husband got the call to come fill out paperwork for his new job as an EMT. We were thrilled if the timing and our new insurance. But that was the beginning of the imperfect schedule. I have always said that it is what I know and what I'm used to. My introverted side enjoys quiet time, but my extroverted side feels left behind. My husband's need to always be busy (ADHD) serves him well as a firefighter/paramedic and it is what I love about him so much, as well as hate about him so much! If he can't sleep, he will sit up on the computer or go clean our business that we run together. All in all, I wouldn't change the path I've taken with him, but it would have helped to know more going in. As patient and understanding as we have both been with his job choice, it has effected both of us beyond what we realized. if you hold it in, it will come out eventually. It can be ugly, but it can be dealt with. Forgiveness and love go a long long way on both parts. It is an important job, that men and women are called to, otherwise they couldn't stuck with it. My husband tells me that he couldn't do it if he didn't have me. Spouses of emergency workers take a beating in a different way and no less important. My tendency would be to live a 9-5 routine if it weren't for my husband. Instead, I stay up late to spend time with him because his body clock is up, which means that I may need to go back to sleep once the kids are at school and he is off again. This feels lazy, but it is sometimes necessary. I have to be willing to bend to the schedule of my husband just as he had to adopt it. It is a mess sometimes, and ten sometimes we find a groove, but mostly I we just have to be ok with being messy. People often give up trying to be our friends because it is such a complicated schedule, and that is part of the price we pay. Thankfully, he is my best friend and we just have to make extra efforts to show people that we really do want to be their friends even if we are difficult to nail down. I'll stop there. Maybe I should start a blog myself! Thanks for your blog post!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Thank you for your insight! I enjoyed reading it!

Anonymous said...

How do I help my firefighter cope when he has a bad call? When he saw the last face of a person he once knew? His station does have group meetings after a bad call and they all talk about it but sometimes thats not enough. What can I do?

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

There isn't much you can do but be supportive. If he seems to continue to have problems such as nightmares or PTSD issues I would see a counselor and go from there. It is so hard especially in smaller departments when everyone knows everyone in the community. It can be pretty traumatizing.

Anonymous said...

My Fiance is looking into doing firefighting. We are both trying to be prayerful about if this is a good route for him and for us. Any advise on how to tell if this is something we (as individuals) or our marriage will be able to handle?

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

You need to be able to be independent and be able to be alone a lot. Can you handle emergencies on your own? Are you able to sleep by yourself? Are you able to be a single mom and accept that your children's father will not be able to make every recital or sporting event? Are you able to go to church by yourself? Do you have a support system in place around you family/friends/church family? I know it sounds depressing, but this is the reality of the downside of firefighting. Firefighters have a 75% divorce rate. You will have to be very intentional in your marriage if you want to beat those odds.

Anonymous said...

What I've learned being a firefighter's wife. Too many firefighters have a narcissistic personality disorder. They are the ones you find secretly cheating on their wives and blaming everyone for their affairs, but themselves. They are expert manipulators. Play victim, which is ironic, since at their jobs, they help victims. These types of firemen are also skilled liars and con men. They appear to others as the vibrant, wonderful family man, but behind that mask of sanity is a monster. A man who goes home and expects his wife to be perfect. House to be spic and span. Has no regard for what the wife goes through. Above all, this type has multiple affairs over his career without the slightest regard for how this destroys his wife and children. He leaves his wife behind in every dangerous situation, but on the job will be a big hero in front of his buds. Truly sick. And these men need God. Fast. As in an aggressive interior attack that needs to rid them of whatever private hell they live in behind that mask of Hi I'm a wonderful fireman charade. Pray for the marriages that are being destroyed by the enemy of our souls. The one who has taken these men captive to destroy them and their wives and children.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I am sorry this has been your experience. There are bad apples in every bunch. I am thankful I did not get one like that.

Anonymous said...

I have been a fireman's wife for over a year now....it is a world I would have never known or thought about until now. It is demanding and challenging to keep a house....3 kids....and a 53 hour a week job in my own right running a multi-million dollar company. All that being said....I wouldn't change a thing!!! I have never met a more giving...loving...selfless man in my life. He comes home tired and drained from his full time job as a fireman/EMT to volunteer at the local fire department and spend quality time whenever he can with me and the children. We have learned not to take even one minute for granted because we are never promised tomorrow!! To all those woman out there who are having problems....trust me I get it....all the problems associated with this lifestyle....but it is that lifestyle that has made our men who they are.....who we fell in love with....and who we need to be the strong supportive women that we are....and love them like its our last day with them!!

Edith Mnz said...

My husband and I just got married Aug. 15, 2015 so we have about 8 months married. He is a firefighter/paramedic and has three part time jobs. He's home about 2 or 3 days a week but even then sometimes he'll pick up a shift on his day off just to cover our bills. I am always crying because I miss him so much, we don't have any children so I'm home alone. There's been times when he's leaving to work in the morning that I start to cry and he sees me and just gives me a hug and tells me to be strong. Then lately it's been happening at night too when he's home. We'll be lying down in bed and all of a sudden I start crying with such deep emotion and I can tell he feels helpless and feels bad to see me cry. He tells me I've been crying too much and that he needs me to be strong because he feels that I'm not strong at all. He told me the other night that sometimes he feels like he can't talk to me because as soon as he does talk to me I'll start crying. I don't know why I've been like this, I just miss him terribly and I keep telling myself to be strong because that's what he needs. I'm sure he wants to feel like he can depend on me too but I haven't made him feel that way. I truly am happy for him to have a job that he loves but I just wish that I could handle it better. It's only been 8 months married and I'm pretty sure it does not get easier.. my husband is so wonderful and loves me so much. I quit my fulltime job a few months ago and started going to school part time to study for a different field. My husband was the one who told me to quit so that I can focus on school and that he would pick up more shifts, he has been so supportive. I started school in January and only enrolled in 2 classes so the rest of my time is spent at home. We have no children so you can imagine how lonely home feels without him. I just want to be able to get through this hard phase and not cry so much anymore. I know that everything he does is for us and for a better future but I don't know why I still cry. I do understand that he has to work and there are days where I'm okay and everything is dandy. Then most other days it hits me hard that I'll be home alone again. Maybe because we're still newlyweds it's taking some time to get used to all this? I have told my husband how proud I am of him and always make sure to have his clothes ironed for him, warm meal when he gets home and clean clothes. Because he does so much for me I want to do the same for him because he's my husband and I love him so much. I know he's happy to come home to me because he hugs me so tight.. but when I cry at night sometimes I can see that he gets sad. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that knows how hard this is.. reading this blog helped me understand a little more the life of a fire wife and how I should handle it. I pray God gives me strength and helps me be a strong fire wife to my husband.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Edith,

It sounds like you are accepting what you cannot change. Maybe since you are struggling so much you could find a friend, pastor, or counselor to help you through the emotional part of this. There are lots of resources out there now on coping with this lifestyle. There was nothing when I became one (now 21 years ago). There are support groups on FB now too! I am sending up a prayer for you.

Val said...

One of the best lessons I think you take away from being a fire wife is to not stress over the schedule. If living by a schedule works for you, then do so. If it's easier for your family to wing it and make last minute plans based on free time that's okay too. What works for one family isn't going to work perfectly for another. A holiday or special event isn't defined by the number on the calendar. As long as there is time made for family and friends to be together, that's what matters most. What works best for your family?

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I completely agree Val! We just like to get together!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you it is hard when he is gone but then I take a deep breath and realize it's me time. It's almost like having a second part of life and then when he comes back home it's us time and we spend all our time together that we can. I've been with this man for five years and I'm so proud of his job. Being a firefighters/EMT wife is not easy it's hard on your heart when they come home and they're so silent and you feel like its you. I have learned to step back tell him hello give him a kiss and let him go to the gym every morning then when he comes back home he's there for me. There still a lot for me to learn and understand why he does the things he does but I do know that I am a fighter too! Good luck to all you firefighter/EMT wives.

Chantel said...

Thank you so much for this post. I m recently married (2 weeks ago) and my husband just started his job as an AO in the fire department (he is currently being interviwed for a fire fighter position. He works the same hours as a fire fighter, and even worse at times-especially being on probation. The first few days were okay... but when they kept him over for 3 days... I started to feel it. We talked about what was expected from this career path and we discussed it in premarital counseling with our pastor, however, I never could have imagined it would be this hard. I can't imagine when we have our first child. I thank you so much for this post and for the amazing advice. It has blessed me and it's nice to know I'm not alone. Though I have merely began this journey, I know with the help of the Lord, our marriage will be just fine. I believe fire fighter wives are some of the strongest women in the world :-) stay encouraged ladies!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I am so glad this post helped you! May the Lord strengthen you and bless you so your marriage can stay strong during the hard times. They will come, but God is bigger and stronger then any that could come.

Anonymous said...

Although you're post definitely points out some valid points; it's a little chovenistic in my opinion. I've been married to a firefighter for 15 years. I'm an ER nurse and if anyone can relate to first responder stress as much as a paramedic/firefighter, I can. First, don't minimize your needs as a wife. You BOTH have been enduring struggles while your husband is away. You're right, he may not communicate what he's experienced because he might not want to or he feels you don't understand but it's not our jobs as wives to minimize our feelings to cater to our husbands. Marriage is equal ; "keep your expectations low??".... That's offensive and unfortunate you're encouraging other wives to keep marital expectations low. Communication is key, you deserve to be acknowledged just as much as he does. God knows taking care of your own sick babies and not sleeping through the night is equally as difficult as taking care of someone else's family member and not sleeping through the night.
Ladies; you are entitled to feel every feeling of disappointment and loneliness, anger, resentment you are feeling. The key is communication and feeling validated by eachother. But my Lord, you do not need to lower your expectations of a happy marriage and put your feelings aside to accommodate your husbands.

Jennie Woody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Jennie,
Seeing him only three times in a month in a half is not a good sign. That doesn't seem normal. Is he a wildland firefighter? Seasonal?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone is honest enough to say this. I'm sure many of them are good, honorable men but I briefly dated a firefighter and I sensed arrogance and narcissistic personality. He and his firefighter buddies acted like a bunch of frat boys. The guy I dated was bitter and unforgiving of his ex-wife, was rude and critical of me, judgemental towards people, yet saw himself as a Godly great person. I think they've been put on a high pedestal by people, and it gets to some of their heads. It just seemed like he didn't honor and respect our relationship, and was more worried about bragging to his buddies about the hot chick that was after him. Also, I was married for many years to a man that would travel sometimes 2 weeks out of the month for business and I sucked it up and held down the fort with no complaints. 48 hours is,not that bad, and trust me, they sit around a lot horsing around and talking about women, work out or shooting the breeze.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you words of wisdom. I'm engaged to a vaulanteer fire fighter/ paramedic. He is mainly a paramedic. It get tough sometimes but I don't text or call when he is on a call or transfer. But thank you so much.

mari vitela said...

Hello. My boyfriend is a firefighter and I'm having problem dealing with issue when he comes home. I tried to change and I think I have but it seems to a big problem. He broke up for a year for this reason and we we are. Ack together. Can you please help and give me tips how to work on. I really want to work on this.

mari vitela said...

*we are back together.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I am not sure if I can give you solid advice on dating a firefighter. It has been over 20 years since I dated my firefighter 😉 But you can read the comments and see if you can glean any wisdom from them. My best thought here is if you are struggling with the schedule now, you may not be cut out for this. Because when you have kids it is extremely lonely and you will feel like a single mom much of the time. I have had to learn to cope with this by keeping my expectations low. This keeps me happy and content (most days). Some people may not agree with this approach and that's Ok. The purpose of this article is to share what has worked for me and for my other firefighter wives who I know. I hope this helps!

mari vitela said...

Hello Stacie.
I've learned to expect it his job and I know how to do things on my owe. I'm a single parent already and he step up for being there for both of us.. I don't have a problem with his job. We have been together for over 6 years and I'm having trouble dealing with issue when he comes home. I tried to make him feel comfortable and relax. Any suggestions

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Gotcha,

I think the 3rd, 4th, and 5th paragraphs of this post are what has worked for me.

mari vitela said...

Thank you Stacie.
I will read it. I am glad we all could talk the same language and experience the same issue.

mari vitela said...

Love it. Thank you and this is very helpful..

Jenna Mayer said...

Wow, I'm actually so amazed at the amount of strong amazing women that responded to this, and I don't even really know why! You're post honestly designated so much with me, and I felt so many of your words were literal thoughts that I've had over and over again. Granted, my situation is different. I am not married to my firefighter yet, and we don't have children, but I feel and am faithful that's where this road is leading. And in knowing so and being with him for so long, I get those crazy thoughts of "can I do this", and it's honestly just scary sometimes. The scheduling thing has been a hard phase for me to go through. Although I understand, and completely respect it, from a woman's side.. sometimes it's just hard, plain and simple. And I've come very accustomed to reading him when he comes home, and being able to somewhat tell where's he's at. It could not be MORE true about the sleep!! When they need to sleep, they NEED it! I've definitely learned that one. I've learned to definitely be more compassionate about the scheduling and missing out on important events, I so much respect what he does, and know that this is how he provides. And it's a reputable and respectable career. Wow... I honestly feel so lifted up right now and grateful that I found this!! What an amazing way for the wives/partners of firefighters to communicate and connect about the struggles, and also the triumphs of their lives. Thank you so much. This really gives me a lot of strength, hope, and faith.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Jenna, thank you so much for your encouragement it is so nice to know that after all these years the conversation is still going and that this article has helped many. Praise the Lord! I am a busy mother of six and I am not very good at keeping up on my blog but this post gets at least 12 hits a day. It just blows my mind!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found this...My husband and I have been married for about 6 months now and his dreams have finally come true he is now a career fireman I am having my doubts as to how I will be able to manage everything without him. I am so used to having him home and I know I will miss him but I also know this has been something he has wanted for over 10 years. I am trying to think of all the positive things that will come of this. I know we will have our ups and downs. I think a lot of my worries aren't his because all he sees is his accomplishment not what lies ahead with our family and holidays and time spent together. Ugh I don't know...I'm happy but worried and I wish I wasn't it sounds so selfish of me.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I love your honesty anonymous, you are truly going into this with your eyes wide open. I had know idea what I was in for. I think that is one reason I started this blog. To help others get through some of their tough times with some simple tips that have been huge for me.

mari vitela said...

So true. I am going through the same thing. We are strong women andI believe it will gets easier. It take a lot of patience to live this lifestyle. I like this blogger because we are all experiencing or experience the same thing.

mari vitela said...

Hello I agree, I text my boyfriend a lot too. But I don't expect a response back. I understand his situation I just want to let him know I'm thinking about him. Which I know he does. I wish I could go visit him at work. His station is 6 hours away from me. He has to leave a day early. But I want to thank you ladies for your stories and experience. This helps me a lot and helps me understand his job better. Thank you.

Melanie Beth said...

Hi there, I've been the girlfriend of a firefighter/EMT for a little over a month and I'm struggling a bit. We are already in a long distance relationship so I rarely get to see him and I know he works long shifts and goes to school to be a paramedic but lately it's to the point where I rarely hear from him and it's hurting a bit. He loves his job and I know he loves and cares about me but when I go days without hearing from him it makes me feel like I'm not important to him. Sadly I know no one to talk to since none of my friends have been in a relationship like this. I feel lonely and spend my days and nights worrying about him so much to the point I cry. What should I do?

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

If you poke around my blog you can find out what to expect as a firefighter wife. I believe you need to pray and wait to see if this is really what you want. I have learned to be pretty independent and not have the need to be in contact with my firefighter all the time. If you are dating that would be hard! He is probably all you can think about!

mari vitela said...

Hello Melanie,
I understand what your going through. That was me 6 years ago. But Stacie is right. You need to keep busy and find a hobbie to keep you going. Read all of the ladies posted that have expirence it will help you. It helped me and still helping me with my relationship. It is good to know women that ecpirence what wr are going through to help get throught this. I am cery grateful to find this blog.

New to this said...

Glad to have stumbled upon this post. I've been dating a fire fighter now for about a month and half. I really like him a lot and would love if things worked out. It's kind of hard though because we will go on this amazing date, and things go great but then we won't talk much. My coworkers will ask how it's going and if I've heard from him and some days I don't at all. I'm pretty independent and I realize the amount of time his job requires and that he will also need sleep on his day off. But it does get to me at times, I have no doubt though that my patience will be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Paramedic school is very difficult and takes a lot of time. It should get a little better when he gets his paramedic license. My husband held done a full time job, and went to paramedic school. I remember....they have to do a lot of clinical hours. We would only see each other one day a week other than passing. It was hard but now he is full time 24 on and 48 home. I love it!!! He has a lot of time with our family. Worrying never goes away. You just trust in his training, coworkers, and God.

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