WOW, 20 years of being a fire wife
In December, my Dear Husband (DH) and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. WOW! We have struggled and we have triumphed over many things. No, I did not know one thing about being married to a firefighter. But, through the years I have learned many things and I’m providing you with five from a list of many. And, if you are new to the fire department, you will be glad that I am passing these on to you.
Having your firefighter gone for 24 or more hours is different than most people’s situations. The shift work can drive you crazy if you let it. But, it doesn’t have to. Use this time for you. Go get your hair done, get that manicure and pedicure. And if you are the guy, cut the grass. Do all of those things that normal people let come between them. You, my friend, will handle this just fine.
Don’t have high expectations. Just because we make plans for dinner, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays, does not mean they will go the way we have planned. Fire/EMS calls happen and overtime comes. The kids don’t understand why Dad/Mom 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 put on those big girl/big boy Underoos 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 my husband’s way of providing for his family. I thank God my husband is so diligent at being a firefighter.
Be careful when he walks in that door in the morning. That is if he doesn’t go to a second job like mine did. He might have been up since 1:00 a.m. on a fire scene. He might be trying to come to grips with it in his mind. Be the ear. So that when they are ready to talk, they will talk to you. They are not usually very emotional and they deal with the stuff they see differently than most people. It is what makes them great at their job. Most of the firefighters I know will talk to each other and a lot of them use a morbid sense of humor to deal with the stuff they see daily.
Ask if he slept. He isn’t just going to tell you about all the calls he had. If you ask how he slept, then he sometimes might say, “I didn’t get to sleep.” For some that might let you know to have very low expectations of him in the morning. I would always tell him to go take a nap. If your firefighter is like mine, he will opt out. But at least he knows that I understand his need for sleep. This also opens the conversation to let him know that I’m listening if he does need to talk about a bad call.
Do not call the station or his cell phone all the time! You don’t want to be known as “the wife, that can’t handle anything while he is away.” Yes, they talk about you! They analyze relationships just like we do.
Dedra Cline welcomes your questions and comments. She can be reached at [email protected].
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