A friend who just “gets it”
Whether that one friend who just “gets it” is in the fire life or not, hang tight to that friend! So often in this life, not to mention all the seasons through this life, we are crazy busy and our time as a family is treasured, and our schedules are often misunderstood.
1. Not every friend you have will “get it”
Friends who aren’t intimate with the fire life like we are, may not understand all the bits and pieces that make it both challenging and beautiful at the same time. Kiah knows this: “Yep! Even a military wife friend still doesn’t get it.” It isn’t that they aren’t good friends, they just don’t always “get it.” Megan said, “My girl friends always say ‘I wish my husband was gone for 24 hours'” We all know getting some alone time every now and then is nice, but when it happens more often, it isn’t all that great. Fire wives are more likely to go with the flow of the schedules, childcare (or lack thereof), independence, and loneliness that comes with it. Taylor gets the frustration, “People just don’t understand how hard it is. And people seem to always want to hangout whenever he’s home. It’s hard.” Melodie explained the feeling perfectly when she said, ” I would love to have fire wife friends to talk to, while I can talk to family and friends, they don’t really get it and I can’t really explain how I’m feeling… It would be nice to have a friend that would just know and I wouldn’t have to try and explain it.”
2. Sometimes we feel lonely for girl friends
Fire wives can help fill the gap created by our schedules packed full of work, child rearing, holding down the fort at home, and being there for your worn out husband when he gets home. Becky feels the lack of time to make friends, “I am lonely and have like no friends due to work,ff schedule and kids. I am exactly where you were talking about.” Taylor has made friends with some fire wives as realizes how different friends can make a difference in support, “My fiancé is a paramedic at the fire station, it’s so hard not having friends that know how it is to be alone all of the time. Fire wives help me so much!” Kimberly is one fire wife who is a great example of the support we can give each other, “I’m always up late if anyone needs an ear. Sometimes we all just need to vent to people who understand our lives.”
3. Tragedy brings fire wives together
Let’s face it. The fire life is filled with more dangerous situations than most professions. A thing we try not to think about too much. Tragedy can happen in many ways, but the relationships that are built and that support each other during these times, can bring good. Stacey found friendship with other wives this way, “Tragic event in September, for my husband’s department, brought us wives together. It became what brought us together!” She was not the only one. Becky went to the internet with her fire wives to stay connected through their tough time, “We formed a wives group on Facebook after the guys lost one of their own due to an accident on his property. We felt we needed something to help us help them through difficult times.” Nikki’s firefighter was confronted with a tough run but she found the support she needed so she could support him, “Jake my husband did a chemical explosion last summer and it scared me but I had my fellow fire wife and we learned on each other for the hours and hours they were there it is hard but we did get thru it.”
4. It isn’t always easy to find fire wife friends at your firefighter’s department
So many things play into how close you may be with the other fire families at your husband’s station. Politics, distance, station protocol, type of department (career, volunteer, part-time), age, and just plain personalities. Sherrie struggles with the distance, “Same here. No close friends since work schedules are different. Fire Dept is 2 1/2 hours away…don’t know the wives.” Volunteer departments, for the most part, seem to have an easier time connecting with each other, like Emily’s, “Lori yes! I totally agree the wives in my husband’s volley department are great, we see each other frequently and can go months without talking and can pick right up from where we left off. I have found it so difficult to get to know the wives in my husband’s career dept.” For those who are feeling disappointed that their stations aren’t exactly family-friendly, have hope. You can reach out yourself like Becky, “I am trying to reach out by having a few shift get together for the entire families to get all together and better and hopefully make more relationships.” Or you can hold out and see if the firefighters decide to make the change themselves like Dara’s husband’s, “I will say that my husbands department never used to include the wives. About 10 years ago some of the guys decided to include us in the parties. We now have a spouses group and a FB page and communicate a lot. It can be done! The guys really appreciate it too!” Sometimes we just have to accept that the station may not be the place to find our friend match…enter the Fire Wife Sisterhood! Even though distance, politics, or stations may be an issue, the Fire Wife Sisterhood has overcome these and connected so many wives across state lines, shift schedules, ages, and family dynamics. Check out Shannon’s comment during the Live session, “Hi All, it’s 11.30AM here in Sydney Australia. Shane’s on shift. Re friendship/in person is good but I have to say just being a part of this online group is a great support!” If the Sisterhood can connect and make a fire wife all the way in Australia feel welcome and supported, it must be a great group of wives.
5. Children, enough said
We can take 2 views on kids and making friends. #1 They can make it challenging to find, make, and keep friends (Kate knows, “Yes little ones make it a little bit tougher to find fire friends.” OR #2 Make it an opportunity. Morganne, “Plus, your kids can be an icebreaker and i realize that so many other wives are in the same boat as me, going through the same stuff!!” We are already connecting on the level of the fire service, we can definitely connect on the Mom level. If anyone is going to understand how it is to be a fire wife and mom, it will be another fire wife and mom just like you. Jennifer found her friend match through the fire service, “We had this dream for a while, one perfect match family. Shared dinners, traded off kids on duty days to help each other out! If you can find this you should have it!! Recently went through a Shift change and don’t have it now, makes me realize how special it was and how lucky we were!” Take the chances you have to get your kids together during shift days like Brittany does with her fire wife friend, “I met a FFW through the sisterhood. Our husbands work the same shift. We try to get the kids together as often as we can.”
6. Take the opportunity to meet up in person when you can!
Commitment Weekends are coming up, and so many fire wives will become fast friends. “Some of my best FFW relationships came from CW,” said Beckie who has been blessed with friendships through this annual weekend get together. The warmth, welcome, and love you feel from other firefighter wives is felt even more when you actually get to meet them in person. I have seen fire couples who have met at Commitment Weekend actually take vacations to visit their friends (other fire couples) they met at Commitment Weekend. Even small local group get togethers support each other and enhance the fire wife friendship. Mesena, “Yessss! I’ve made Awesome friendships through 24/7.”
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