Should You Marry a Firefighter?

Fire Cake (Not Ours)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.

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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.)

2007, Pregnant with LB

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.

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[Cake photo credit. No, it wasn’t ours. But that sure is us in the other picture.]

 

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14 Replies to “Should You Marry a Firefighter?”

  1. Inspiring… Truly Inspiring!!

    I was married for 6 years and got divorced for reasons beyond my control. However her and I are now very good friends. We never had children although I did want children.

    I’m going to ask the Girl I’m seeing to read this! Make sure this is really want she wants. I know sometimes it is very hard on her with me working a 48 hour shift every 3 days. I know we dont have the most glamorous job in the world but it is something that IS IN OUR BLOOD. My Father worked with DCFD for 23 years and I knew from day 1 that I wanted to be a firefighter! So here I am 20 years later and LOVE every minute of my job!

    So I say… If you truly love the person who you are with, YOU have to ask all of those question to yourself.

    Be Safe out there!!
    .-= David´s last blog .. =-.

    1. I literally googled “why should I marry a firefighter?” and this came up….

      I love this article, and it helped me fall even more in love with my boyfriend.

      Married or not, it helps to see it objectively.

      Well said!

      Thank you.

  2. This is a great post, my Fiance found it and had me read it because he wanted to make sure I was ready for the life as a firefighters wife seeing how he is 24 and I am just 20. It really made me feel good to know there are other women out there who have been there already and can give great advice. Especially since I am having to pick up my life and school life and move so we can be together because he is being transfered to another station.
    Thank you for this post!

  3. My fiancé is a firefighter and you are absolutely correct when you say it’s not easy but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. He loves what he does and I’m glad that God has made me strong enough to let him walk out the door to begin his 24 hour shift. People always ask his do you do it? Aren’t you scared? Of course I am but he’s so happy in his career and I would never take that away from him so all I do is put my selfishness aside and pray for him as he walks out that door. It feels good to know that your not the only one out there who feels the same way you do…thanks for the blog.

  4. The firefighter I am getting to know and love was my first love from junior high and high school. We both are divorced and had no contact for 26 years. I live in TX and he on the east coast. Thank you for answering all the questions of my heart. All that you say about his loyalty, honesty, loyalty, and humor are true. I love those things about him. I have learne to wait and cherish every phone call.

    1. Married to a fire fighter for 16 years now.. I’ve often looked for sites to find a community of woman for support … Often I only find these posts going on and on about how wonderful it is to be with such a “hero” … Sorry these people are humans, an honorable job… But human… Here’s my take… If you are going to marry a fire fighter you have to be ready to come second always.. Know he’s a fire fighter first and yours second… He will always be tired.. Being at the station is never restful so when they get home they catch up on sleep… Your honey do list… Forget it.. You must be ready to handle everything mostly on your own… I don’t think that a fire fighters wife can be needy…these guys are away often you need to be able to handle it… . They are not unlike military men … They connect more with the people they work with than you … Why? Because they think you can’t possibly really understand what they do.. They’ll start off telling you stories about their day but soon you won’t hear many at all… Me and my children share my husband and their dad with the town he works for every third day, we get what he’s got left… Honestly being a fire fighters wife is super difficult.. Statistics show a high rate of divorce … Think about it?

      1. I’m now 10 years a firefighter’s wife–four of those as a military wife as well–and your experience is not my experience.

        Is it a lot of work? Sometimes. Does he miss certain events? Yes. Is it a bummer he works Christmas Day this year? Definitely, but it’s also lovely that a fellow firefighter on the crew the day before is staying over for an hour so we can open presents together. Do we benefit from the schedule more than find it a hindrance? Totally.

        Honestly, I don’t get “what’s left.” He gives me his all, and I give it right back. If I had written the comment you just left here and my husband came across it, he would be hurt in a million different ways. My attitude toward his job, toward our marriage, toward being a team sets a tone. He is my best friend, I am his–and none of that has anything to do with being a firefighter, a firefighter’s wife, or an editor. It has everything to do with setting priorities in marriage.

        1. I agree! My fiancé has been a mechanic the last three years we’ve been together. Just recently he went back to firefighting and has been gone ALOT! However, when he’s not working he tries to spend all the time he can with us and our relationship has gotten so much better and we work together a lot more on things.

      2. Thank you for writing this! Everyone seems to glamorize the job and are constantly talk about heroism and loyalty. The reality of being married to a firefighter is committing to being alone. Making decisions on your own. If you have children, you will be a single parent. You’ll be going to wedding and family events on your own. Forget about following any of your dreams because their schedule will not allow it if you have kids. Sick kid at home and you have no Tylenol well guess who’s taking a sick kid to the store at night. Yup, it all falls on you with little to no return. It’s hard being at social functions when everyone has their spouse with them and you’re on your own. I think if you know what your getting yourself into its fine. Unlike me, my husband had a career and never mentioned being a firefighter. He had an early mid-life crisis, took the exam without talking to me. Applied for the job without taking to me. All while I was pregnant with our first child. He left his career to follow this firefighter job. My opinion didn’t matter. I had to deal with the huge pay cut and all of the changes that came with it. In the end, he’s happy but I’m miserable. If I knew then what I know now I would have never married him. The job is a lifestyle commitment that you want to make sure you can handle. I wanted a partner in life for a husband, not a part time roommate. They change when they take the job. They see a lot of things that make them lose any empathy they had. Just make sure you live with the person for a year and make sure you want this life. I know I would not have chosen this path for myself or my children.

  5. I’m a fairly new fire girlfriend. Not married yet but hopefully we will be one day. This helped me put in perspective what I had already realized the short amount of time we’ve already been together. We clicked so well when we met, and things have just skyrocketed from there. Just the other night I was comforting him because of something that happened at work. Through all the craziness and things not being how people expect them to be, I love it. But most of all I love him.

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