Firefighter couples know the Fire Life can make things hard. These tips for the Fireman and his Firefighter Wife are timeless and relevant to any marriage or intimate relationship.
Here’s one for all you Firefighter couples out there! From the Firefighter Wife, to the Firefighter girlfriend- and of course for the guys who need some straight forward direction!
Being in a relationship with a firefighter (or both of you being in a medical field/or both firefighters) comes with its own unique set of challenges.
So whats a couple to do?
Well, there a lot that both of you can do to make sure that the relationship stays intact and healthy. When you ask most people how they have a good relationship, they say things like “we truly love one another” and “ we communicate a lot”.
BOTH of those are great. But that doesn’t tell you how.
Just saying ‘communication’ doesn’t really give you a starting point. I know my husband and I struggled with this hardcore in the beginning.
Turns out, he and I have a completely different meaning of the definition of communication. So not only did we not communicate, but we thought the other person was completely wrong!
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Here’s 15 tips, habits and ways to make it work (and that will help the communication flow without being forced!) for all you firefighter couples out there!
15. Set some goals-
You need to know where you’re going in the next few years. And this isn’t one of those things where you just agree for the sake of agreeing. No. Its a real discussion, about real possibilities. Maybe you even see that the two of you aren’t on the same page, so it gives you a starting place for getting unified.
14. Prioritize the relationship-
I know this is a “duh” statement, but its also soooo important to remember. We all get caught up in things from time to time, so we need to make it a habit to prioritize the relationship. If you want some tips on how to balance your work life balance, check out this article I wrote about making it work with family and the fire life.
13. Set up a time once a week where you check in with each other-
This is another no brainer that often gets passed by. How many times have you started the week and then realized it was already Thursday or Friday?
In the hustle and bustle of life we can get caught up in the groove, only to realize we were too preoccupied with everything else.
Having a set time each week to check in can be helpful- but also hard in the fire service.
For my husband and I, we make it a priority to check in on the weekend and just have time to chat about whatever is going on in our lives. That way its not a set day, but we know that come the weekend, we’re going to catch up.
12. Practice gratitude-
Tell them why your thankful. Being thankful can have such a positive impact on a relationship. Instead of looking at everything your upset about, or wish you could change, look at what you do actually have. And your spouse will thank you too.
Sometimes (most times) they need and want someone to tell them they are doing something right. This can be a simple word of encouragement, a quick note or a surprise gift.
11. Apologize… and mean it.
No really, how many times have we said sorry just to end an argument. This is silly and petty behavior. If you are in a healthy relationship, you should be able to apologize and mean it- or put a pin in it for the two of you to come back to later.
10. Fight Fair.
Speaking of Apologizing- don’t say ‘sorry’ just to throw it back up in the other persons face. And don’t constantly bring up something that the other person has truly apologized for. Otherwise your just going around in circles about the past that can’t be changed.
Another thing- don’t fight on shift day. PLEASE.
Just don’t do it.
Our loved ones have some pretty risky jobs. They need to have their head in the game, and they need to be able to focus. If something is bad enough that it needs to come up at work, then they need to go home to deal with the problem.
9. Have good sex- and be honest about it.
Sure sure, good sex, yep, been there, checked that off my list, lets move on<<<< is that either one of you? It happens more often than you think, but people think sex is just… well, sex.
They don’t put too much effort into it, and they often times aren’t honest about it.
So lets talk about the weird, awkward position that you hate, or how there isn’t enough foreplay or how you loved the other night because it was passionate. Because a healthy sex life matters.
8. Make sure you have your own space-
Why? because it’s important for personal growth. You are still two completely different people. It is acceptable and totally normal to have your own separate hobbies and things you like to do.
Just make sure that when you are doing your own thing, that you don’t alienate your partner. Don’t go hang out with someone that flirts with you- that’s just asking for trouble.
Find a good support system! I know my family and friends are priceless. Val from Wife Behind the Fire has a great article on building your tribe.
7. Don’t just talk- listen too.
Whats the point of communicating if it goes in one ear and out the other. Or even worse, if you’ve already made up your mind about something and will just offer advice without listening to what your significant other needs? I’ve been guilty of both of those- and its not pretty.
My husband and I both get in the habit when we are preoccupied with “Mm Hmm” or “Yep” or “That’s signs nice”
BECAUSE WE WEREN’T LISTENING. I could smack myself sometimes.
A relationship is a two way street, so put down the phone and actually engage with your partner. You will be surprised how much you actually care about what they say when you pay attention.
And don’t for a second think that your spouse can’t listen. Firefighters lives depend on their ability to follow instructions. And the wives… they can hear things from across the room, especially if its back talk. Utilize these listening skills on each other!
6. Support Change (even if your firefighter hates it!!!)
Change is the only constant in life and its bound to happen more often than you want! Change will also happen with your partner, and it’s not always favorable.
Some events can lead to a negative change and this is where you would want to have an honest conversation. Others will lead to good changes, and you want to support that.
If we hide under the covers and pretend like change doesn’t happen- it WILL bite you in the ass.
A huge change that happens every year is where our firefighters are at on holidays, birthdays and special events. It can be hard to roll with the changes, but you can still have a great Christmas even if your firefighter is working on the 25th.
5. Accept that you can’t change their family-
WOOOOOO. Family. The “extra baggage”. Can’t live with em and cant live with em.
One thing that you can do is change how you treat them. Going to family events just to leave sour is not pleasant for you or your spouse.
So do your best to be cordial or limit contact with toxic people. It will make your relationship that much sweeter.
Plus, once you’ve accepted that they are going to love you or hate you no matter what you do, you can be free to be yourself. Don’t let them cramp your style. Communicate with them and with your spouse about these things so you can reach a happy medium.
Most *normal* people can be reasoned with. And if you’ve got some crazy family, well then, welcome to the club!
4. Build Trust-
Yep, I went there. The old “build your trust and save your relationship” speech. It may seem cliche but its a really important part of your relationship.
Not too long ago I realized that I had a big area of my life that I didn’t trust my husband in. We’ve known each other since we were teens and have been married almost 5 years.
It really caught him off guard BUT we’ve been able to honestly and quickly move past it (and we built the trust that we ignored wasn’t there).
I was able to use some self help books to kind of get to the root of the matter. Mostly, it was how I talked and responded. This book about trust words was a good starting point for changing the way I approached trust with the way I talked.
Take a good honest look at some of the reasons behind your behaviors and you might be surprised by the lack of trust in certain areas.
3. Have realistic expectations-
Any one else set themselves up for failure because they had this grand plan in their head and instead of it turning out like an episode of MTV’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’ it was more of a ‘Redneck Wedding’?
Yeah, that used to be me.
From going out to eat to family vacations- I was royally screwing myself over by wanting the impossible (well behaved children all the time… yeah, that doesn’t exist!) If your interested in a more in depth look at expectations, check out this blog I wrote for the Fire Wife.
Basically, you need to set some realistic goals and expectations. Then make a plan to achieve them. You won’t loose 5 pounds if you keep ordering Chick-fil-a and you won’t have a neat house if you keep buying stuff everyday from Amazon.
2. Love yourself so you can love them-
Do you love yourself? Do you wake up each morning just happy and thankful to be you?
This is another ‘piece to the puzzle’ in the adventure called life. See, when you love yourself, you can give to other people without needing any love in return, because you already feel complete.
It’s not quite that simple (you cant be in a one sided relationship) but it is useful when you have a spouse that is completely burnt out, stressed, overwhelmed, or having a bad day.
You can help them to the best of your ability, and then take care of the things you need to do, because you already have fulfillment in your life. It also allows you to not based your self worth on them, if they are frustrated with you, it doesn’t throw you to rock bottom and tank your set esteem.
Does this need explanation? Don’t let someone rent negative space in your head. Forgive and do better next time.
One of my favorite quotes is “He who angers you, conquers you”.
And, Damn, if that isn’t the truth! When you don’t forgive someone, the damage is mostly being done to yourself. Odds are they have forgotten, moved on, or strategically pissed you off just so they could ‘conquer’ you.
Forgiveness is the key to Marriage because you and your spouse aren’t perfect. I don’t even think you could be considered ‘normal’ (what’s normal anyway??) so by forgiving each other, you can love each other more.
These tips are ones that I use in my own marriage- not perfectly of course. They have helped my husband and I through the ups and downs of life, and life doesn’t have any plans to slow down (just when I feel caught up something new happens!).
Thankfully we have an arsenal of tips to fall back on.
If your new to the Fire Life and Dating a Firefighter I have a post just for you, Dating a Firefighter- what you need to know.
Being in the Fire life does change your relationship some. It’s weird having periods of time, like 24 to 48 hours, where you hardly see or talk to one another.
Then you have longer stretches of time where you are off together and start to get cabin fever. I get it! I do. Just know that the rate of firefighter divorce is actually lower than the national average. And you have lots of resources available to help you!
So I want to know FireFighter Families, Do you have any useful tips for couples to survive this crazy adventure called life (especially with the fire service thrown in the mix!) Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any other great suggestions for keeping a healthy relationship with the fire life.