A career firefighter will spend one-third of his or her working life at the fire station. That’s a lot of time away from their spouses and children. Those times of long separation can lead to friction in a marriage, so what can you do to fight back?
When the job is causing problems—and because the job is vital to your family’s livelihood—you need to make it a priority to work together on this issue. The firefighter spouse needs to understand that he/she is wanted and needed at home. Approach each other with love and understanding—not blame. By all means, simply communicate.
When the job is depleting you, how can you save some time and energy for your family so they don’t feel disconnected from you?
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Affirm your family. Communicate the good you see in your family, and welcome the good they’ll in turn see in you. Let them into your work life by talking about what’s going on. Discuss your work with them. Talk with them about what you’re doing while you’re away from them.
Learn what satisfies your mate and your kids. Respect your family’s needs by putting their needs before your own. They’re not asking you to quit your job and, depending on their ages, they don’t expect you to be with them every waking moment. Find out what’s important. It’s a no-brainer that you should be at your children’s sports or artistic activities. What else would they like from you? Your teenage daughter may just need a breakfast with you on Saturday mornings once a month. Your spouse needs a date night once a month. What else is important? Then get these on your calendar.
When we did our book The Five Love Needs of Men and Women, we talked to people all around the country. We asked the question, “What do you need from your mate in order to feel love? What do you need in order to have a great marriage?” The number one thing we learned—and it’s from men and women alike—was that they desired unconditional love and acceptance above all else.
Does your spouse experience unconditional love from you? Does he or she receive love no matter what? Begin there. Begin by loving unconditionally. Be honest. Be sincere. Be loving.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!