A continuation from last post

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Have you seen this story?

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20110924_16_A17_CUTLIN501742

http://www.newson6.com/story/15535279/wife-of-murdered-nichols-hills-fire-chief-arrested

It blows my mind, and while I do not know the reason for her actions, and certainly do NOT condone them, it got me thinking about what is offered to spouses of Fire/EMS personnel.  Last post https://stickysidedown.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/taking-care-of-your-own-recognizing-stress/ focused on treating the stress of the Fire/EMS/EM personnel. And that’s the most important treatment to offer, but what do we do for the spouses?

I consider myself lucky. Not only am I blessed that my husband is in the emergency services field and is extremely and sometimes OVERLY supportive of what I do, but I am also in the emergency services field and can provide the same support to him. Now, I’m not saying there haven’t been times where we have looked at each other and had that “you need to stop giving so much time to the job/volunteer and start giving some time to the family talk”, but those are few and far between. And while many of the couples that I interact with are dual service couples (both in fire/ems/Emergency management/dispatch/nursing), I look at those couples that aren’t and see the struggles.  The struggles of the non-service spouse to understand the commitment and dedication their spouse has. The understanding of the non-service spouse to understand that their spouse ISN’T going to talk about their day sometimes.  Heck, my husband doesn’t always tell me about his calls, because he knows that I can internalize them and make them personal.

What do we do for those non-service spouses to help them understand what being involved with a signficant other in the “service” can involve. One of the best books I’ve read was “I Love a Fire Fighter” (http://www.ellenkirschman.com/work3.htm) It really provides a great overview of the life of a fire service family. But, a book is only one way. How do we prepare a spouse, especially one who didn’t start a relationship with a non-emergency services individual, for the issues that will arise?

I can tell you, that I myself have sepnt many a christmas, hallowee, easter (heck, pick a holiday) alone or alone with our kids because my husband was on shift. I’ve had to go into work late or leave early because or late calls, call backs. And even I have to admit I haven’t always handled it well.  But there have also been many a situation where I have looked at other spouses and shook my head because I didn’t understand or suppor the response they had to an incident (having to hold over/miss an event/show up late).  In fact, many of my friends often say they wish that their significant others were as understanding as I am.  Looking back, I wonder what I, as a felow fire service spouse, could have offered to that individual to help them see a better way to react.

While, I don’t believe that the actions of the wife in Oklahoma are as a result of being married to an individual in the fire service, I wonder how many incidents have resulted because we can’t help those spouses work through the stressors of being an emergency services spouse. And we don’t provide the recognition that they deserve for putting up with what they do.

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