One Spouse with a Different Schedule
We have talked to many couples in which one spouse is a first responder. There are significant challenges to a relationship when one spouse works a nontraditional schedule that keeps them away for days at a time. My friend who has a husband a pilot has similar struggles. My dear friend Amanda writes of her struggles and blessings in being married to a first responder:
“As I write this, I think back to six years ago. At this point in the morning I had already had my hair and make up done. Soon I would be getting zipped up into a white gown, to walk down the aisle, and exchange vows with the love of my life. Back then he had just finished a four year contract with the United States Marine Corps. Today, six years later he is finishing up the back half of his 48-hour shift at the fires station. Today is our six-year anniversary and I’m spending it alone.
This is the life of a first responder! Missing anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and social events is the norm. It’s our norm! Our normal is understanding that something special can never be tied down to a time and date, because more times than not the fire station schedule dictates life events. When life revolves around a three, in our case, every four-day shift, you have to do life differently. Every fourth day I have to play mommy and daddy for two days. That means I’m the only one to meet our two boys every need. I’m the only one there to cook, clean, bathe, and discipline. I’m the only one to keep our two boys alive for two days. If you have boys you can understand how daunting that task is. If you are married to a first responder you know that if a child is going to get hurt or if anything major is going to happen, its going to happen while your first responder is on shift.
Our oldest was two years old when he ran into the window seal while daddy was on shift. Quickly I rushed him to the ER where he could be glued back together. As the only parent there I did my best to keep my cool and I was successful until the PA asked me to look at how the glue wasn’t keeping the wound shut. The next thing I know I have a group of doctors around me, bumping me up and down on the cot trying to bring me back from loosing consciousness. To this day the staff in the ER ask my husband how his family is doing when he makes a transport to that hospital. This is a huge testament of the family bond that is made between first responders.
Anniversary (the spouse side)
Today when we stopped by the fire station to say hi to daddy and happy anniversary, I had three other men greeting the kids and me. These guys love on you as if they are your own. We have our family and we have our fire family. There is an unspoken connection, a bond that you wont find among most other professions.
Anniversary (the first responder side)
If you aren’t a part of the first responder family, you won’t understand how equally hard it is to be the first responder as it is being the spouse of one. They miss out on the anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and events. They miss out on being there everyday and comforting a child when they get hurt. Their personal lives take a back seat to answering the call. I am so blessed to have a man so dedicated to his life calling and passion.
I Love My Life
And though at times this life isn’t easy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my first responder and the life we live.”
Thank you Amanda, for sharing part of your story! If you have struggles with a nontraditional schedule or an intense career, let us know your experience. You are not alone, and we are here to help you grow a strong marriage and a strong family too.