The truth of the matter is that I don’t know how to communicate the struggles of any life situation until I have emerged, gloriously and beautifully, on the other side. The last ten weeks is no exception, but I am going to try.
The Academy has been hard, to put it lightly. It was a new chapter for The Man and I, that we could not ever have hoped to be adequately prepared. We were just getting used to living together and then it started.
Personally, my biggest problem is that, despite all of the research that I had done, I found no advice that was adequate to my expectations and standards of a loving, supportive relationship. Everything that I had found suggested and insisted upon lifestyles that were not sustainable.
While I was exploring the advice of seasoned firefighter partners, I was excited, and looked forward to being that Stepford Wife for my hero. Ten weeks later, I have experienced things that, perhaps unsurprisingly, other fire wives and girlfriends have undoubtedly faced but chosen to stay silent about.
Maybe I’m stubborn. Maybe I’m high-maintenance. Maybe I hold my partner to an unreasonable standard, but for 18 weeks, I cannot continue making dinner, cleaning it up, asking about his day, maintain a house, tend to our pet, look beautiful, all while sidelining my feelings, hopes, and daily struggles.
I maintain that my ideal relationship with my firefighter is one of equality.
Mind you, before all of this started, I loved that boy who never knew a stable, healthy partnership. I loved the man into whom he evolved. I loved the partner, roommate, co-conspirator, keeper of secrets, and bunny daddy into whom he further evolved. For years, before he became a firefighter, he was already my one. Before I became a firefighter girlfriend, I was already his soulmate.
As we had established before the Academy started, I wish to continue. I don’t like looking at situations saying that we are going to give 50/50, and meet each other halfway.
Despite what I have read, along with the societal and unspoken pressures that we both hear independent of each other, I am not here to make his life smoother or more enjoyable than he is here to do said work for me.
We are partners.
We are equals.
My father has said to me that the concept of giving 50/50 is a myth. Alongside your partner, you enter every situation giving 100 percent. You give everything you can to work toward a common goal. When your partner is unable to fulfill their “half” of a goal, but is giving 100 percent, that is fine. As a “partner,” you need to be able to pick up where they fell short, without prompt or resentment.
I recognize the pressure of The Man’s schedule along with the physical and mental demands. I pick up around the house, and in life, where he cannot meet me “halfway.” I cannot handle when these extra efforts on my part are met with the attitude that the “extra” is simply not that. It is now just what I do.
This seems to be the point that a lot of blogs written by firefighters and the partners of firefighters is to acknowledge the responsibilities of the partner, without addressing the firefighter meeting said partner at any point in an interaction.
As a woman and human being, in dealing with this chapter, I need support. I occasionally need help around the house. I, too, need to vent.
For the last seven weeks, this has been where The Man and I have struggled. We have entered a new chapter, for which neither of us were properly educated. The interactions, expectations, demands on ourselves and each other, and capabilities have all changed.
While we continue to work to stay together and maintain a healthy, equally beneficial relationship, I want to offer the truest piece of advice I could ever give anyone new to this world of love and firefighting. I want to say that your partner is training to become a hero. He is stressed out, uptight, exhausted, and hungry. There is a lot going on in their mind and in their body. However, you are still a person with very real emotions, fears, anxiety, anger, and despair. In a healthy relationship, that needs to be addressed, and should not be sidelined or put on a back burner because of someone’s professional training.