Keep the Home Fires Burning!

The phone rings. You get the call. It is happening. You are moving forward.

Well, first things first.

Yes, your career is making the next move and you are headed to the academy. But, let’s not forget the ones who stood by and encouraged you along the way, were your sounding board, stayed awake at night to figure out how you could get a badge.

Yup – you guessed it – your family.

Rookies that are married test their relationship especially when they get into the academy and go through probation. To be more clear, firefighters already have a higher divorce rate than other professions.

Don’t let this happen to your family.

After coming this far, you do not want the stress of being a rookie compounded by a divorce. If you have not already figured it out, hear me loud and clear. If momma isn’t happy, nobody’s happy. Keep momma happy.

When your training starts, you will be gone from home more than ever before. You may not have time while away to call as often as you would like. And you might only get home once a week. When you are home, you will be studying – A LOT! You will be preoccupied. This will be tough on your partner, spouse, and kids.

How do you take care of things on the home front?

Communication is key! Discuss with your loved ones what you are going through. Let them know your stress, your worry, and concern. Let them know what is required on and off duty. And, ask them how they are coping.

Now comes the whole Venus and Mars stuff – To all you guys out there, it is time to LISTEN! Take time to reconnect with your family. Sit down and enjoy a meal. Play catch with your kids. Go for a walk. Taking a break for an hour here and there will provide a different perspective all the way around.

To the partners and spouses out there – your future firefighter’s preoccupation is not about you. It is about the JOB. Believe it or not, most attach self-worth to their careers. Look at it this way, your future firefighter has jumped through many hoops to get that call. He or she is driven to perform. This drive is taking up brain space 24/7. Trust me on that.

Read this from my books Fire Up Your Communication Skills and Eat Stress for Breakfast.

“When I was working at the firehouse, Paul was called into work for four hours of overtime. He was from a different station and shift. Knowing I had done some communication and relationship work, Paul took me aside and said, “Bob, I’m in big trouble.” I asked, “With what?” He said, “My marriage! I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Paul tried to get support from the guys at the firehouse but to no avail. He explained, “When I try to tell them what is going on, they hit me in the chest and say, ‘Forget her, let’s go get hammered.”

Here is the long and short. Six months earlier, Paul and his wife had “the talk” as the result of situations building up and not getting resolved. Paul’s wife told him he was not part of her life. He was always working his firefighter shifts. Out with the guys, coaching and/or competing in sports. She didn’t think he loved her anymore, and she was losing her love for him, too.

Like most firefighters, we get many of our needs met at work. Because we go home with our tank pretty full, we aren’t always motivated to provide the same vital necessities for our partners. This right there is a problem. Yes, Paul attempted to make changes. But, did not ask his wife what changes she wanted. If the changes aren’t what the other person needs, it doesn’t make a bit of difference what a person does.

The moral of the story is that communication is vital to keep those home fires burning. I will say it again if momma is not happy, nobody is happy.

Fire Captain Bob