This is for every newlywed fire wife, firefighter and couple in the fire service who thought it was only them.   May it bring you encouragement and hope.

Today, July 27, 2012, is the 10th anniversary of our wedding.   A miraculous milestone for us.  You see, Dan and I were 32 and 29 when we met and I had a sweet little, just turned 2 year old tantrum-throwing boy.

Our love was fast and furious.  Our challenges were many.  But we never said quit and it’s worth every sweet moment.

It was nowhere on my bucket list to even date a firefighter let alone marry one.  But here we are.

I’m just a girl who fell in love with a firefighter and this is our story.

If you are in the throes of a challenging marriage and wondering what happened to that heroic manly man who wooed you so sweetly, please read our story and cling to the belief that you will be there again.

Her story

I married my college boyfriend straight out of college.  Because that’s what you do when you have a good job, you have both graduated, and he’s nice and fun to hang out with.   After a few years of hanging out, we had our first child….10 weeks early, 3 lb 4 oz.   My completely under control, climbing the corporate ladder, living in a house in the suburbs, traveling on a whim lifestyle came to a screeching halt.   All of my energy poured into this tiny baby who had to spend a month in the hospital before coming home with his mama.   This trauma was the beginning of the end of my first marriage.

It’s when I learned the hard way that marriage is not just about someone fun to hang out with but about someone who will be there to support you emotionally, compassionately, passionately and unconditionally through thick and thin.  I was married and totally alone.

In the blink of an eye, I was a divorced, single, working mom running the maddening daycare dash with my adorable (healthy and strong!) baby boy.

His story

Doesn’t he look exactly the same 10 years later?

I’ll leave most of these details for Dan to write someday but the short version goes like this.

Escaped small town upstate NY and entered Marine Corps.  Spends 6 badass years defending our country who was actively at war (Desert Storm, etc.)  Had a shotgun wedding to a hometown girl that lasted another blink of an eye, most of which he was deployed.   Chased another girl (not me) to Columbus, Ohio (Fate?  Destiny?  God?  That’s our pick 🙂 ).   Tried a dozen jobs in a couple of years before finding a fit in the para-military fire house lifestyle.    Was single and spending 4 out 5 nights at various firehouses when we met.

Here’s the story of how we met by a random, divine, God-ordained, miraculous moment in a fire house where he worked part time and a mutual friend (a firefighter) introduced us.

So he actually called me.

My 2 year old was screaming in the background.  He said only “Do you want me to call you back?”  I said “Give me 30 minutes to get him to bed.”  5 second call.  Click.

Yeah right, like he’s gonna call me back.

He called back.

We talked for hours.  We planned to talk again the next day when he was on duty.  I walked on air.  Could it be there was a worthwhile male wanting to date a girl with a child?

The next day he accidentally left my number at home.

(This was old school 10 years ago.  Like when you wrote phone numbers on paper and didn’t have a cell phone.)

Talk about favors.  He was less than a month on a new crew at a new department.  A rookie.  And someone had to stay over and cover for him so he could make the 1+ hour round trip drive to get my number!   That’s when I knew I had him.  (And that the fire service looks out for each other – already two loyal brothers played a key role in our getting together)

We had our first date and were madly in lust, falling even faster in love.  We couldn’t check off our lists fast enough.

What kind of food does he like?

Family life?  Want kids?

What do his friends think of him?

Any pets?   Movies?   Sports?  Music?

Psycho ex-girlfriends?

Any irrational fears?  Disturbing habits?

Belief in God?

What DOES he do all day at the firehouse?

What if…..what if the worst.  What if he didn’t come home from work one day?

It all checked out.

Our joke became “3 non-stop flights daily to Vegas, baby”

It was a billboard near the airport at that time.   No offense to anyone who has been married rapidly in Vegas but after a surprise divorce, there’s no way my family would have tolerated me running off to Vegas with a rogue firefighter I’d only been dating for a few weeks.

So we planned a perfect fall outdoor wedding.

Then we got pregnant.  Oops!  We fretted over telling my mom and dad (despite the fact that I was a nearly 30-year-old grown woman).   Luckily, my family was just as much in love with Dan as I was.  It’s hard to not be in love with a guy who treats your daughter like a Princess after she’s experienced an ugly divorce.

So we had a quick, sweet summer wedding at the park where we had our first date.  10 years ago on July 27, 2002.

We had only dated for 5 months.   Do you think anyone was betting on a successful marriage for 2 previously divorced people who moved up their wedding date due to pregnancy?    At least everyone had the grace to not say that to our face.


I am realizing this love story is turning into a novel.   So I’m going to break here and continue in separate posts.


Here’s why I want you to come back and read more (especially you newlyweds)

Because men who are brave enough to run into burn buildings have a LOT of excess testosterone and nowhere to place it.   Except dysfunctionally in anger at simple things that make them impatient.   Like potty training 2 year olds.

Because your marriage CAN survive remodeling a house together, even when he irrationally destroys half the kitchen due to spackling challenges.  (Remember that excess testosterone?)

Because when you marry a hot firefighter / paramedic, you will run into attractive (sometimes dishonorable, ok I said it, who chases married men?) nurses all over town who think they own a piece of him.  Yeah.  Try that on after the honeymoon has faded.

Because you’re a strong girl who’s got it all together.  You have to, because you run the house every third day.  But it’s a tricky balance to learn to let your manly man lead your family in the way he was created to do.

Because those early years with diapers and sippy cups and car seats and tipsy head-knocking toddlers can last F-O-R-E-V-E-R and you wonder if you will ever again sleep.  Alone.  Naked.

Because you are married to someone who has another family at the firehouse.  A very close family that can be easy to be jealous of as you are trying to establish yours.

Because PTSD is real in the fire service and affects the entire family.

Because any marriage is challenging in and of itself and they have 30 nights a month to sleep together, talk face to face and always kiss good night.

I can make that list so easily because those are all pieces of our love story.   There were times I wondered if we’d make it.   But here we are 10 years stronger than ever in love and life and friendship.    We still fight.  We have just learned to fight fairer in ways that helps each other grow.   It truly feels like a miracle that needs to be shared with those who are feeling hopeless.  I truly hope it brings you encouragement and inspiration.

{Update July 2015}

It’s been 3 years since I first wrote this article.  I was scared to post publish.  First of all I was scared to even get the words out.  I was super scared to show my husband and see what he thought.  I would have been satisfied simply with the feeling that I got these thoughts out of my head and sorted out knowing we had made it TEN FREAKING YEARS and all the strife was so worth it.   But he was ok with me posting it so I did.  I shared it with our tiny little Facebook audience of about 1000 followers and that unleashed the floodgates of my inbox being permanently full of messages from firefighters and fire wives who needed to hear this.

Since then we have grown to over 100,000 followers on our social media platforms and email lists.  Have become a non-profit organization 24-7 COMMITMENT on a mission to honor, encourage and support marriage and family for first responders and beyond.

We have built an entire community here to support your marriage and family.

If this article moves you in any way, we encourage you to join our free communities and support this important mission.   It feels so good to be part of something good.  To belong to a community on a positive mission.  And to have this kind of place to nurture and grow your own marriage.

Click here for Part 2 of “A True Love Story”


Remember Your Love Story

Like what you’ve read? Check out Part 2: It’s Not Pretty (A True Love Story Continued)



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Commitment. Connection. Confidence.
Communicate. Compassion. Community.


Marriage on Fire is designed especially for first responders, by a firefighter and his wife who have been through both the hot sparks and the tough fires of marriage and have brought healing and growth to a community of fire families.

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.