I’m a Firefighter Spouse—How Cool Is That?

By Anne Gagliano

Yes, there are some negatives to living with a firefighter. It’s a stressful profession with some occasional side effects, such as irritability from exertion or trauma, which they can’t help but bring home. And nights away from each other are sometimes difficult, resulting in sleep deprivation for you both. High cancer rates and extreme danger cause lots of anxiety for the firefighter’s family. Those who risk much for a living risk breaking someone’s heart. But in spite of all of this, it’s still the best job in the world, and I am so very proud to be the wife of a firefighter. It can be hard sometimes, but here are four reasons why it is, without a doubt, so incredibly awesome:

Your Support Is Extra Meaningful. Spousal support is part of any marriage. We all need the encouragement of our loved ones to get through life, to lift each other up when we’re down. But when you support a firefighter, you somehow get to do more than the average spouse because firefighting is so much more than the average profession—many would say it’s a calling.

Firefighters save lives; for this reason, their work has the highest of meaning. They keep people safe, and without them, society would quickly collapse. When you support such a person, you become part of that heroic team. Whenever you sacrifice a little of yourself to nurture a drained firefighter, by extension, you get to save lives too. Your love and strength enable them to do what they do—better; how cool is that?

You Get to Share in the Excitement. There is never a dull moment in the firehouse. Every day brings new and exciting challenges, so there’s no such thing as “the same ol’ same ol.’’  And here’s the benefit for a firefighter spouse: Because they never get bored, neither do you.

I can’t wait to hear from my firefighter about his day. His stories not only entertain but inspire. “I delivered a baby on I-5, I pulled a child from a fire, I brought a senior back from a heart attack” and on and on it goes. When I call the firehouse I hear the excitement, the pure adrenaline in his voice—and it pulls me right in. The sense of urgency, the “now-ness,” the “in the moment” of it all makes me feel alive—just as he does. His incredible existence makes mine, by proxy, just as wonderful.

The news media only seems to report the bad things people do to one another; but when you live with a firefighter, you get to hear about all the really good stuff they do, which instantly restores your faith in humanity; how cool is that?

You Get to Live with a Strong, Capable Partner. Firefighters are usually driven, Type A personalities with a giving nature and a very strong work ethic. It takes a lot of energy and self-sacrifice to do what they do, and these qualities are a major blessing at home.

My firefighter works hard all day every day. He’s always got several projects, and he basically never quits till he gets the job done. He strives to keep the community safe and his fellow firefighters safer while doing so. This passion is inherent to his character; because of this, I can always count on him to come through for me too. He simply can’t help himself; if he says he’ll do it, he’ll do it.

Firefighters are problem solvers and fixers by nature, and this is especially nice for a family and a home, because let’s face it—what family doesn’t have problems and what home doesn’t need fixing?  With or without the proper tools, he somehow manages to do what needs to be done. He’s always there; I can always count on him. And this is a nice thing, especially in a world that is so unreliable, chaotic, and scary. With my firefighter, I feel safe and secure.

Honor, courage and strength—this is what it takes to be a hero, and this is what it takes to make a successful marriage. When you live with a firefighter, these qualities are always present; how cool is that?

You Get to Have Lots of Time Together. True, you have to spend long chunks of time apart, such as 24-hour and 48-hour shifts, but you get to spend long chunks of time together too. Sometimes with just one day off, we get a whole week!  This has been awesome for our relationship and for our children.

The firefighter schedule allows for Dad to be in the classroom, to go on field trips, and to participate in extracurricular activities. It also means Hubby is available to help with household repairs and major projects during business hours. And he’s often free for mid-week date nights and other spur-of-the-moment romantic evenings as well. Wahoo!

The 24-hour shift means less commuting, which is especially nice for big-city dwellers with horrific traffic issues. Less commuting means less soul-stealing, wasted time on the road and more time at home. And because of less commuting, you can live farther out from the city, which can be very, very nice  (i.e., a peaceful lake existence).

Most people have to struggle and wait patiently for those occasional “three-day weekends,” but firefighters get long weekends all the time. Yes, they sacrifice during the shift—but they reap a major perk for doing so. They come home tired, but they come home fulfilled, and they come home ready to spend lots of time with you.

I’m a firefighter spouse, and proud to be so. His heroism brings meaning, excitement, and strength into my world that leaves me in awe. He’s my champion in every way, but daily he seeks me out above all others, declaring that I am his inspiration, his source of strength, his hero; how cool is that?

 

Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 30 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong

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