There are more challenging things than having a spouse who is in public safety. But the fact remains that my husband’s job requires our family to sacrifice. Here are two things I wish people knew about being married to a firefighter:
- My husband is not on a 6 month deployment overseas, but he does spend 6 months away from his family at a fire station. The fact that those six months are spread out over a year can make life very stressful for our family. We are constantly adjusting to him being away and then adjusting to him being home. I wish I could say it becomes easier, but it doesn’t. It is a constant struggle. Since my husband is at a relatively local fire station, most people inadvertently trivialize the sacrifice. I can’t say how many times I’ve expressed that what I am doing is challenging only to have someone point out it could be worse. I mean, thank you, Captain Obvious. Yes, it could be worse. And it could be better.
- The 24/48 hours shifts my husband works are not the same as a spouse being on a once-a-year mission or business trip. Being without your spouse for an extended period is tough. I get it. But a short-term separation is just that: short term. Being apart is hard, but I wish people understood that this lifestyle is our normal and continues throughout the year. When people compare their spouse being away for a week or two to what my family does all year, I try not to laugh. It is a reminder of how much they don’t understand. The week or 10 days of parenting alone are, I’m sure, difficult. But firefighter spouses deal with parenting alone for extended periods all year, including weekends and holidays.
While I appreciate that it’s tough to fully understand this lifestyle until you live it, I hope sharing these two things will help. Feeling like your friends and family understand goes a looooong way with most public safety wives. And to the friends who have reached out with love and support over the years: I can’t tell you how much I value our friendship. From keeping track of Mike’s shift days, to offering to help with the kids, to simply checking in around the holidays when you know he’s working – thank you for loving our family.
What about you? What do you wish people understood about your unique family dynamic?