Questions from a Soon-to-Be Firefighter Wife

Source: google.com via Lori on Pinterest

It’s only been a few weeks that I’ve been managing this site so far.  First let me just say that you all are A-MAZING!  I knew there were others out there having the same troubles I do but these are like too many scary coincidences.  You are truly walking in my shoes and I’m so happy to be walking beside you all now.

By far the most common question I’ve seen pop up – through the comments forms, private messages and through seeing what people are googling and then coming to this site – has to do with being a newlywed or soon-to-be fire wife.  They want some pointers.   Since this is my first blog post on this topic, I’m going to miss a MILLION points, so I’m begging you experienced firefighter wives to chime in with comments.   For now, I’ll just attempt to answer a couple really good questions from one reader:

How easy is it to keep a job with kids and his crazy schedule?

In some ways, it can be easier.  If you are in a field with shift hours, like the medical profession, I’ve seen lots of fire families make that work great.  The kids don’t have to do much childcare (huge cost savings!) and as a mom, those schedules tend to let you be home more for the hours your kids need you.   The downside is that you can end up tag-teaming in and out of the ring as you pass each other going to and from work.   You definitely must find a balance there and time to communicate the important kid stuff.  Such as, Luke is grounded from the Wii no matter what he tells you he is not allowed to play it until Friday.  And Maya already had 2 Oreos so do not let her tell you she didn’t have any!

Source: tipjunkie.com via Ashley on Pinterest

I work a M-F 8 – 5 kind of job and this can get challenging, especially if he gets overtime and we don’t have a sitter lined up!  Plus I have travel and finding a sitter for 24 hour shifts, well, we don’t even try.  Mawmaw and Pawpaw are saints and travel 2 hours to stay with the kids when I have to travel.  Crazy?  Definitely.  Achievable?  Absolutely.

But I LOVE that the firefighter schedule lets Dad’s get to spend daytime hours with their kids, attend school functions, etc.  So many dad’s working the corporate hours really miss out on so much of their kids best hours of the day and come home tired only to have to pick up the computer for more work.

I have seen some households where the firefighter dad works a second job, frequently at a second firehouse, meaning more 24 hour shifts.  This leaves mom home to tend to most all household and family responsibilities.  If that matches up to your passions and calling in life, so many people make this work as well.  But I would caution that Daddy can easily become a stranger in this scenario and Mommy may easily turn to drinking to keep her sanity (just kidding!)

What do you do when you can’t sleep at night?

I have personally not had much of a problem with this but there have been occasions when I’ve woken up in a panic, my heart racing, with the sensation that something isn’t right.  This happens especially if I fall asleep waiting for his call and he gets to busy with runs to call me at a reasonable hour.  Finally, after 10 years of marriage, he understands this and will at least send me a text to say good night and that he is fine.

When I wake up in this panic, I take some deep breaths, focus myself mentally and not let my thoughts race.  In some moments I have found myself literally planning his funeral in my mind, tears streaming down my face, before I catch myself and pull out of it.

“For real brain?  If something happened, someone would have called.  No reason to think those irrational thoughts.  Life is too short.  Focus on the positive, the happy.”

To be brutally honest and transparent, I sometimes look at the local news to see if there was a big fire, SWAT team incident, shooting, mob, gas line leak, 10 car pile up, you name it.    Silly, but effective.

How can you talk about all the gruesome things that he sees without taking it in and making yourself a stress ball!?

Source: etsy.com via Lori on Pinterest

If he is telling you these stories, be a listener (of course!)  Some guys tuck this stuff inside and it spills out in other bad ways – anger, depression, lethargy – that leave you wondering, what the heck did I do and what is wrong with him?  So if he is talking, that is HUGE.  The firehouse can be a testosterone laden gruff and rough place.  So to have the gentle ear and soul of a wife to come home and share these things is s0 valuable.

Now, there are some disgusting stories my husband has told me which left permanent visual scars in my memory…..and I wasn’t even the one who saw them!  My brain just took them in and gave them their own nasty picture.   (And now they are recurring as I write this.  Ugh!)

But the ones that really get to me, and to him, are about the innocent children in awful living conditions.  Not to mention those who lost a mother or father that day.  Or who that got into harms way by accident – drownings, hit by a car, shot by a stray bullet.

Whenever I hear those stories, they do stick with me all day.  Not in a fixated, can’t focus kind of way.   Because I’ve learned that while I can do little things, I can’t do everything.  And that’s where I must pray for those people and let God step in.  Letting myself turn into an emotional stress ball isn’t going to help anyone!   And when thoughts of these victims creep into my head throughout the next day or so, it helps to remind me how abundantly blessed we are to have our health, a home, food and loved ones still with us.

My evil twin sometimes schemes about stealing these babies from awful living conditions in the dark of night.    So in quiet moments, I fantasize of starting a massive non-profit to reach into these gaps that our firefighters see everyday.

“Isn’t bad enough for Children’s Services to take the kids but……”

“Disabled and can’t work to earn money but social security and unemployment are not enough…..”

“Elderly and alone and unable to cook for themselves but their busy grown children live on the other side of town….”

There’s a reason God made him a firefighter and you his (soon-to-be) wife.   Because you can handle it!  You were designed for this.

Sometimes when it seems like there may be an easier way to make a living than firefighting, I remind my husband of all the people he’s saved, all the babies he’s birthed (4!  how cool is that?) and how many more there are to come.  God put him in their path to intercede and be their helper.

One final thought…..PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is very real in the fire service.  And something that needs more exposure and understanding.  I hope to bring more light to that subject on this website.   In the meantime, keep listening and being the gentle sanctuary for him to recoup and recover after a long duty day.

What are other questions you have as a soon-to-be Firefighter Wife?  You’ve come to a great community of women for support.  We look forward to having you around.

The Fire Wife Sisterhood understands your challenges....schedules, missed holidays, scary calls, single parenting, sleep deprived husbands and more. This is your online firehouse family.
FirefighterWife.com/join (Fiancees and girlfriends too :)

For some more reading

The following two tabs change content below.
Avatar of Lori Mercer - WifeOnFire
Firefighter Wife on a mission to save fire marriages, nurture and encourage other fire wives and love on Jesus, my firefighter and our 4 kids. Blessed to be leading this amazing community of Fire Wives.
Avatar of Lori Mercer - WifeOnFire

Latest posts by Lori Mercer - WifeOnFire (see all)

6 thoughts on “Questions from a Soon-to-Be Firefighter Wife

  1. Rebekah

    Becoming a Fire Wife was awesome and I absolutely loved the idea of it. I would brag on my husband (I still do) and I wore that title so proud. My husband was a Fire fighter- a hero. As time went on my “title” became weary. His job began to put a strain on my personal life. WORRY WORRY WORRY doesn’t even begin to remotely explain it. He would get a call and dart out the door with an “I love you” just like that duty called. Of course I was left a mess, wouldn’t you be? My husband is the one who runs into danger while others run out. Im so thankful for his “brothers” I know that he’ll make sure they come out alive and I know they’ll make sure he’ll come out alive. That alone put me at ease. Being a Fire Wife is a huge commitment and Im finally use to the routine and craziness of this life style. Im getting better with the worry but what can I do? Thats my life in that bunker gear.

  2. Avatar of Lori Mercer - WifeOnFireLori Mercer - WifeOnFire Post author

    Rebekah, That’s such a descriptive heart-felt paragraph. I know I’ve been there through all the ups and downs of each of those emotions. Thanks for sharing. It is encouraging to all the fire wives out there to hear that.
    “That’s my life in that bunker gear” is my favorite line :)

    1. Rebekah

      Thank you! I hope to maybe help someone out there dealing with the same things! This site is super inspiring and I LOVE it!

  3. Amanda

    Hubby and I just got married almost 2 months ago (Can’t believe it’s been that long already!) but we’ve been together 3 1/2 years now. I volunteer in EMS and my father has been volunteering in fire/EMS my whole life, so I think I came into the marriage at a different angle than most firefighter wives.

    We don’t have kids yet (won’t for a while) so I can’t factor that in yet. I can say we’ve gone up to 4 days without seeing each other. I work night shift at a hospital usually 3 days a week and my husband has duty at the firehouse two days a week. We make it work for us though and I have noticed lately my husband has been making more of an effort to see me.

    As far as worrying about him, I try to keep busy and keep my mind on other things so I don’t think about it. As Rebekah said, I know the other guys at the house have his back and won’t let anything happen to him. I also know I would hear immediately if anything did.

    The gruesome stories don’t get to me much, I guess because I have experience with the same situations. The only stories that bother me is when he tends to try to duplicate scenes from Backdraft and do stupid things on calls, such as going in a trailer fire without SCBA on (true story) or him ventilating a roof on a metal ladder during a thunderstorm (I kindly asked the battalion chief who is a very close family friend to not ask him to do that again).

    I also love the “that’s my life in that bunker gear” line!

  4. ChristeeI

    So thankful I found this site and can realize the feelings I am having are normal and that I am not alone.Dated my firefighter for a year and we got married this past February. Then the challenge of this new \”fire wife\” life began when I moved to his homestate of Colorado in May after my youngest graduated from High School.Besides being a Lieutenant in his local fire department where they are also EMTs and work 48 on 96 off, he is on a Type 2 ICMT where he can be called to national incidents to help for as long as 14 days. Therefore, I thought I was prepared for the times alone as we had been in a long distance relationship for over 15 months. Times apart during this period were as much as 40 days when he went to fight a wildland fire in New Mexico and was called to help with the floods in Iowa. Through all those times we managed to stay connected because he always made the effort to reach me even if he had to climb to the highest point or drive into town to get cell reception so he could call or text me. Our Skate (Skype) and Face (FaceTime) dates as we nicknamed them also helped us not forget what each other looked like.However, nothing prepared me for the call he received as we drove home from Alamosa, Colorado after being away for a week to help at a Fire Academy. He was away for 14 days at the High Park Fire working as the night shift Ops Chief where there was little to no cell reception and not time to worry or even think about calling home. It was the most unbearable and difficult time I have ever experienced and adding to that was living in a town where my family, friends and church home were not there to distract me from my racing thoughts and emotional transitions.When he got to come home, I was not equipped to handle the extreme fatigue he had coupled with my need for him to be happy to see me. I did things that I know you aren\’t supposed to do, but we got through it and we will both do better next time.But I love my firefighter and wouldn\’t give him or our new life up for anything. Yes, firefighters are tough macho dudes when they have to be, but for those of us who are lucky enough to get inside and close-up, you will see they are also the most sensitive, caring and loyal to the core guys around.

    1. Avatar of Lori Mercer - WifeOnFireLori Mercer - WifeOnFire Post author

      Oh my. You’ve really been introduced to the fire service kind of hard core! Thanks for sharing. I think we can all say that we’ve done things we aren’t supposed to out of frustration and stress. Most important is that you made it through :)
      Stick around Christee! I think you have lots of great thoughts to share.

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>