Firefighters are known for their strong brotherhood, loyalty to each other, and a bond that they form while performing their duties. This makes sense because they experience things that non-firefighters can not even imagine. However, although they express their emotions and their passion about being a firefighter and their loyalty to being a firefighter in a healthy manner to each other and others; many times they do not express emotions or passion to their wife or about issues outside of firefighting.
Many wives in my personal life have expressed that they feel they are married to robots. The firefighter does not show any emotion in the home to her; the firefighter detaches when issues arise with the children, and the firefighter detaches when tragedy hits the family. The perfect example of this type of detachment occurred when a personal friend of mine found out her father had stage four cancer. The week before this he appeared to be in perfect health. The week after he found out he passed away.
This was a traumatic two weeks for her. Her husband, stayed at the station during the majority of this time. He did come to the hospital when the doctors announced that the father only had a few hours to live. The wife was standing over her father, crying, in shock, and totally devastated with grief while her husband stood beside her yawning. After a few minutes, the firefighter went to the television in the hospital room and turned on a football game. He stayed in front of the television watching football until her father passed and the doctors informed the family they needed to leave the room.
Not once did the firefighter even show the least bit of sympathy. When she confronted him about his behavior he got mad at her and told her that she was being overly sensitive and stupid because he did not do anything wrong.
Unfortunately, I hear of similar events all of the time from various firefighter wives. Psychological theory states that firefighters must learn to detach as a part of their training in order to perform their job duties and survive. The theory goes on to say that firefighters will also learn to detach in their personal lives anytime a crisis hits just by default.
Therefore, it takes a special woman to be a firefighter wife. She must be one who understands that a firefighter is not going to give her the emotional bond that most women crave in the “you can cry on his shoulder” type manner. These couples must find other ways to create emotional intimacy and bonding.
Have you noticed a detachment issue?
Yes, my FF has some detachment issues. Emotional stuff, he is pretty good with… he is not great with injuries or sickness… especially if he can’t “fix” it or if I am not following his instructions exactly. He more doesnt understand why I can compartmentalize the way he does or why I bring my work stress home. That bugs him more than anything. He wants me to be able to put things away the way he does. We have been together two years this May… he has had some bad calls in our time together and I have learned where I can push him to open up. Mostly, I just adjust to him….
I notice that how long some have been in the dept before the relationship started also makes a difference.
Yeah. He’s been on 20 years. And his ex was of no support emotionally and had no interest in his job. I, on the other hand, am hold a great deal of interest in his career and support him emotionally. He learning to adjust to me.
I am very lucky that my FF is not like this with me, my family or his family. He’s always there when I need him to take care of me or give me emotional support. He is most definitely my shoulder to cry on. We’ve been together 5 years, married 3.5 years. Now, when it comes to ohter people, he’s very detached emotionally. It’s sort of a “these things happen” mentality. Which, in my opinion, makes him good at his job.
It is a rough spot, since if they didn’t detach, they couldn’t survive at what they do. Thanks for commenting Christy.
Adjusting to each other I think is key. We need to adjust to them and let them “be them.” But they must also learn to let us “be us” even when we don’t understand each other. It will always be a work in progress, but continuing to grow together and learn each other will hopefully keep balance. As for emotional support, when we don’t get it from our significant others, we definitely need to find a secure place we can get emotional support. For example, the wife behind the fire page is perfect. Also keeping close friends close helps. That takes some of the burden off of a FF who does not understand.