New and "Lifestyle" Question

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2011
New and "Lifestyle" Question
6
Fri, 02-25-2011 - 2:41am

Hi Ladies, I'm engaged to a wonderful man who is an EMT, trying to become a Firefighter, doing an internship with a fire department currently, and he's hoping to head to paramedic school in a year or two. I just found this board tonight because I'm so frustrated about our situation, I googled fire fighter wives' support groups. FFing doesn't run in my family, I haven't really known FFers ever, so I'm still trying to figure things out and be supportive for my FI. He's on his weekly 24 internship shift with the FF department tonight but since he's an unpaid intern he's not supposed to ever text or call anyone ever - I get they shouldn't be slacking in alertness and duties. Most of the places have been understanding that he has a FI (we don't live together and our commute is 40-50 minutes one way to see each other so it doesn't happen nearly as often as we'd like; seriously, he spends more time with the people he's interning for each week than he is with me) and he is able to make a quick 10 minute call to check in. Once he snuck into the bathroom for five minutes to say hi. Tonight, apparently the station he's at (it changes each week) has "weird vibes" so he doesn't want to risk calling. I don't want him to risk it either, but I'm just so incredibly frustrated that he would even have to be worried about a 10 minute conversation at 10pm at night after all the chores and everything are done. Does the Fire Service try to break up relationships?

I read through some of the posts here and there's a lot of talk about the "lifestyle" of FFers and their families. I'm starting to get a little panicky about what that means because right now, things suck, and he's not even a FF yet. I'd really like to hear more about the lifestyle from the wives' perspectives because FI wasn't going to be a FF until I encouraged him to pursue his passion after 7 months of dating...Now that we're really starting to get into it (1.5 years later), I don't know if I can do this though. Thanks in advance.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Fri, 02-25-2011 - 1:13pm
Welcome to the board! I'm glad you found us. I'm not married to a FF, so I won't be of much help. My mom was a paramedic for years, and I know what kind of impact that had on our family. It's definitely hard. That sounds really odd to me that they would mind a 5-10 minute phone call after all the work is done. Hopefully, one of the FF ladies will chime in.

Have you two decided on a wedding date yet?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2007
Tue, 03-01-2011 - 2:22pm


First of all, welcome to the board. I apologize for it being so slow - there is a LOT of good information on here (ESPECIALLY, from before the boards changed formats - so doing searches by specific terms might really help you find good stuff) - but the traffic is very light ;)

Second of all - when we talk about the lifestyle - we, for the most part, aren’t talking about the fact that interns and probies aren’t allowed to call their wives/fiances/girlfriends (ps, this isn’t the way it is everywhere). We’re referring to the brotherhood, ready-made family, people you can count on when you need them - whether you know their name or not, the crazy schedule that no one understands but other people in the same line of work.. Going to the zoo on Tuesday instead of the weekend because you can because the schedule rocks. Those are the major things that make up the “lifestyle.” There are good things and bad things that make up the “lifestyle”, but I think you’ll find for the most part, we all pretty much think the way we live is a good thing. You will also find that a lot of people’s DH’s go to work, and come home, and their lives do NOT revolve around the fire department - and that’s fine too. We moved away from all our family, so our lives do - because they ARE our only family.

The early years are hard, but you get through them because the pay off once you get going is huge. I know you’re fairly early in your relationship (compared to me who’s been married for almost 11 years and together for 15), AND early in his career - so not being able to talk to him is a hard thing, (my dh has been a career ff since we met and I can’t talk to him when he’s on shift because his station is too busy and it frustrates me but it is what it is), and for you not to be able to see him also makes it even harder. But to answer your question - which I’m sure was rhetorical, but I have to anyway ;) - is no, the fire service does not try to break up relationships. They are usually pretty big on family. But they probably really aren’t concentrating on his relationship, which I know is hard to hear - they are concentrating on turning him into a good firefighter - and believe me, that’s what you want. They’re not trying to punish him by not letting him talk to you, but he is low man on the totem pole. He needs to put in his time and be dedicated to build a reputation (which is this line of work is EVERYTHING). If they say no texting or no phone calls, they mean it. They aren’t doing it to mess with him - its probably a rule for everyone.

And bottom line - it wont be like this forever. If you stick it out now, the 30 year career he will have of being able to call you whenever he wants to will make up for it. By this time next year, or 6 months from now - he may very well be in a different place. Just try to think ahead, away from where you are now, and you WILL be able to make it. It is hard to go without communication, but send him love emails (formerly known as love letters LOL)- write to him when you’re thinking about him. This time can make you stronger as a couple - not weaker. Use it to build your relationship.

After 7 years of marriage, my DH up and left his very comfortable job as a captain at his fire department, and my hometown where all my family is - and risked everything to work for the current department. Went through 10 month long academy. We lived apart for six months. I had to stay behind and sell our house. I talked to him maybe 3 minutes a day, if that. I saw him for one day a week if I was lucky (the new city is 3 hours away), but we couldn’t do anything or go anywhere, or actually spend any time together. We could just basically be in the same room - because he had to study, or get fired. It was the most stressful time in our lives - it was TRULY horrible. But it was also the best thing for our marriage. That was four years ago and I still get PTSD when I go to the training station - because it was SO horrible....but all I did was keep in mind that it would NOT last forever. That “by this time next month - we’ll only have 4 months left” “by this time next year, it will have been over for 2 months”. Did I have my moments? Yeah, sure I did - I had some freak outs, but I picked myself up - DID NOT freak out ON HIIM - and kept going. You just have to think ahead and know this is not forever. You can turn it into a positive thing and make it work to your advantage - and see that what he’s being asked to do is for a reason and not personal toward him or toward the both of you, and in the end, you will be a better woman for it, he will be a better man, and a better firefighter.

I hope I’ve helped you in some small way.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2006
Wed, 03-02-2011 - 6:49pm

Hi!




iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2007
Wed, 03-02-2011 - 7:16pm

As usual, very well put, Glynn :)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2011
Fri, 03-04-2011 - 6:00am

Thanks for all of the relpies, Ladies. I should preface all of this by saying that last week was kind of a melt down day for me and it hasn't been that bad before or since (thankfully). Our wedding date is August 6th. By then both FI and I will be 28 - so we're no spring chickens here trying to start a family, which adds to some of the pressure about time commitments. I definitely try to be supportive that this is FI's dream...heck, I'm the one who told him to leave his old job and go for it. I try to focus on this only being a temporary thing - he only has10.5 more months of this internship - and hoping things get a little easier when we're married and living together. I have some mixed feelings about surrounding myself with distractions, though. I tend to be a really busy person anyways (I work 40-50 hours a week on average, sometimes more, and I'm working on a Master's Degree, I have hobbies and friends I see, etc). I agree that you have to keep yourself happy and that it shouldn't depend on anyone else, even your husband. I'm relieved that things will get better once he's hired and not the low man on the totem pole, etc. Philosophically, distracting myself with things and other people so I don't feel so bad about missing my future husband doesn't sound like a marriage, though, because how are you supposed to be united if you never see each other?

Have you all read the 5 Love Languages? Good book. I'm a quality time person, like big time, and FI is a physical touch person, both of which require us being in each others' presence. We've talked since last week and we're both working on finding creative ways to be present to each other. FI isn't happy about the way our lives are scheduled/oriented right now either, but I'm trying to let him know that the burden of making things work and making things better doesn't rest solely on his shoulders. I'd like to think that if I have any concerns or frustrations, I reassure FI that it's not directed at him and that I'm still standing right with him. I think your posts have given me more encouragement to do better about showing my support and finding other ways to deal with my frustrations. Actually, I came here in part because I want to try and find people who understand (and understand even better than a newbie like me) so that I can be that loving, supportive, understanding FI after he works so hard all week. So, thank you ladies, very much. You're wonderful women and you and your husbands are in my prayers.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2007
Wed, 03-09-2011 - 8:51pm

HI!!!

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