Someone found our blog by Googling, “Should I marry a firefighter?” It’s an interesting question, really.
When FireDad and I said our vows, we had already been through the long and involved process of testing and interviewing to be hired by the fire department. We were actually enduring the middle of a hiring freeze as I walked down the aisle toward him on that cold, December day. Prior to all of this, during our dating days (and, really, prior to me), he was a volunteer firefighter (and paid the bills as a Paramedic). I had an inkling of what fire life would be like but… I also had no clue. He was hired by the fire department shortly after our wedding. And during our honeymooning year, I got the baptismal by fire, literally, into the depths of fire life.
And so, I have some advice, of course, having lived this life for five years now.
Don’t marry a firefighter if you are relying on their presence or the stability of their schedule. The pager will go off on Christmas Eve as you are trying to build a bike together. There will be a fully involved structure fire on the morning of your big interview, leaving you scrambling to find child care. They will work on your birthday, their birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and every other holiday imaginable. Not all in the same year (though that list in the previous sentence is true for us this year, sigh) but eventually, all of them. More in some years than in others. On days you have plans to work on the house or get things done, they will be needed at the fire house. On a day that you planned on doing nothing more than relaxing, the sound of fire sirens leaving the station will bring a halt to your attempt at relaxation, nerves on edge. And, more than once, they will be summoned to a fire from the heat of passion in your own bedroom. Trust me, it happens.
Do marry a firefighter if you want someone who is reliable. Does that contradict what I just said? No. Their nature is one of loyalty and, as such, reliability. If they say they’re going to do something, it will get done. Sometimes that means after the fire but it always means that it will get done. They usually tend to understand that you are also at the mercy of the fire house even though you are not a firefighter. As such, they genuinely tend to keep promises. Not all of them. There are bad apples just like in every other profession. But, for the most part, they’re good, loyal people.
Don’t marry a firefighter if you don’t want other people to think that your spouse is “hot.” Firefighters, male or female, are ogled. They are winked at, looked at, smiled at and flirted with everywhere from the bank to the elementary school. It happens. It’s that love of heroism and bravery and uniforms and strength and everything all rolled into one. And fire trucks! Everyone loves a fire truck as it goes speeding by.
Do marry a firefighter if you love the way fire smells mixed in with your significant others’ natural smell. It can be intoxicating.
Don’t marry a firefighter if you think it’s all about heroism and bravery. Sometimes it’s about washing garage floors and checking trucks. Sometimes it’s about arguments at their Union meetings, which you can’t always know the intricate details about but still need to offer support. Sometimes it’s about petty grumpiness within the fire house. Sometimes it’s about raising money for a new truck. Sometimes it’s about them taking a night out, despite having been gone the 24 hours before, with their fellow firefighters to cool down, chill out.
Don’t marry a firefighter if you think it will be an easy life, a decision you will never question. To be honest, all people married to others with any number of jobs have moments of, “You care more about your job than you care about me!” You may want to yell, “Family should come first!” To be fair, when they’re rushing out the door leaving you to wash all the dishes from the Christmas dinner you just hosted, they are caring about family first. It’s someone else’s family at the moment but, yes, a family. Learning that sometimes you just have to suck it up at times is a long process. Sometimes it’s a lonely one.
Don’t marry a firefighter if you can’t sleep alone without them there. Do marry a firefighter if you’d like to hog the bed to yourself every third night. (Note: if they take one day off, that means that you will have to sleep together for five days in a row. Can you handle it without sending them to the couch?)
Don’t marry a firefighter if you would never “allow” your children to be firefighters. First of all, the idea that you can shape what grown adult children do or do not do is simply funny. Secondly, it runs through the veins. (I’ll be talking about this soon.) They’re going to see Mommy or Daddy on a fire truck and they’re going to want to do it. Maybe it will be a short-lived childhood obsession. Maybe they will join the fire service. However, telling them that it isn’t a job they are “allowed” to do not only is silly but ends up putting down your spouse.
Do marry a firefighter if you want your children to have a built in hero. Yes, I know, it’s not all about heroism and bravery but, to a child, it really, really is. To boot, pun intended, your spouse can be an example of how staying clean, being responsible and working hard can benefit your child when they’re a grumpy teen wanting to follow the crowd.
If it seems that there are more “don’ts” here than “do’s” the reason is simple and is the below point:
Don’t marry a firefighter for any other reason than wanting to spend the rest of your life with that person. The rest of the stuff will fall together if you truly possess that love and commitment that comes with any marriage. There will be times when you will argue (like in any marriage). Sometimes you will argue about the job in question. Fire families, like other families, make sacrifices when it comes to schedules and last minute changes. But it’s a good family to be a part of in the end.
And so, would I suggest that the reader who found our blog marry that firefighter? Well, I just asked FireDad if he thought our reader should marry a firefighter. He said, “Well, probably not.” That’s just him being humble. Or stubborn. Or silly. Or anything else that he is. But, then again, I’m sure he’d have a few things to say about being married to a writer. (Maybe I should have him write that someday.)
In the end, I love being married to a firefighter. Our life is stable and crazy all at once. My children obviously love visiting the fire department. And, yes, women make eyes at him but, in the end, he comes home to me at night. I love his honesty, his loyalty, his sense of humor, his devotion to what he loves and his bravery. We argue at times, like any other couple but I can’t imagine being married to anyone else.
And that’s how you know if you should marry a firefighter or not.
[Cake photo credit. No, it wasn’t ours. But that sure is us in the other picture.]