COPING WITH YOUR MAN BEING GONE: DIARIES OF A FIREFIGHTERS WIFE

January 8, 2018

 

Hi guys!!! I know. I know. It’s been a hot minute. Or cold depending where you live but you know what I mean. But I was busy with the holidays as I’m sure you were too, so it’s probably better that I wasn’t posting! Yesterday on my Instagram stories, I asked if you guys wanted a post about how I cope with Ben being gone a lot. And there seemed to be a lot of you that wanted one. So here it is! Before I kind of go through what helps me, I’ll share a little of our story and what his schedule is like so you know!

I’m sure most of you already know if you’re here from my Instagram, or have been following me for any length of time, but Ben is firefighter. He works twenty-four hour shifts, and the schedule rotates. It’s a little confusing if you’re not familiar with it, but basically I just have calendar with all the days he is scheduled to work for the next year! This doesn’t account for overtime, recalls (basically he can get called into work quite often with no notice) or going out on fires. And typically when he gets home from work in the morning, he goes to sleep so that day after he works is sometimes shot too. He also is in the Marine Reserves so he is gone one weekend a month for that. In the history of our relationship, we have had a lot of time that we spent apart. While we were dating, he joined the Marine Reserves and between bootcamp and training, he was gone for 10 months. Then since we’ve been married, he worked as an EMT for two years with a similar schedule to what he does now. And last spring when he got hired with the fire department, he temporarily moved out of our apartment and in with some guys that he was in training with in order to be able to be close to the academy and better able to succeed.

So needless to say, I spend a lot of time without him! We actually calculated the other day that in the past year, we have spent at least five months of nights sleeping in different beds. Kind of crazy if you think about it. But even though there are definitely really freaking hard days, I feel like I’ve somehow settled into this being our life.

*Disclaimer. I am also pretty independent! I have never been the type of girl that always had a boyfriend or depended a lot on my relationship for my security. But a lot of that has to be with my first point. So keep reading… 😛

  1. The number one most important thing that I would say keeps me sane is my relationship with God. I have learned over the years to build my foundation on Jesus. And to rely on Him to fulfill my needs whether those be emotional, spiritual or physical. My identity and who I am is founded on my relationship with Jesus, and my relationship with Ben is just an added bonus. I know it’s easier said than done but I will say that when you don’t have your husband or boyfriend available anytime you need them, it almost becomes a necessity if you don’t want to go crazy without them! And it makes the time you have them that much better because you’re not grasping at them to hurry up and fill all of your needs before they have to leave again.

2. The second thing I would say is to build great friendships! Find girlfriends that can relate to you that you can hang out with. Or even single girls. I have found myself several times over the years ending up spending time with single girlfriends! Because half the time, you can end up feeling that way yourself. Or just find some really great girl friends that are understanding and caring and are there for you when it’s hard or just to go to dinner with or talk to on the phone! I’ve called friends or my mom crying plenty of times usually when Ben has to leave unexpectedly and all of my expectations for the day or time period are gone. There’s something healing about being able to call someone in that exact moment to process with and get our your emotions. I feel like I’m able to move on better and be ok after I’ve had those emotional moments.

3.  Another great way to make the time pass is to plan fun things to do. If you haven’t already noticed, I love to travel. And I actually have done quite a bit of it without Ben. While ideally, I would love to go with him, it really helps the time pass when you don’t see them to have little trips planned. Last week, out of the blue, Ben ended up having to work four of six days (which means basically they are all shot because he sleeps when he gets home!), so I ended up flying out to Denver to see my girlfriend, and then we did a little road trip back here to Orange County. And before I knew it, the week was over. If traveling isn’t your thing or isn’t easy for you to do, just make fun plans. Go do a fun activity or try a new restaurant with your girlfriends. Having things planned that you can look forward to really helps to pass the time.

4. Find some fun hobbies! (And I don’t mean Netflix! 😛 Although I will say I put Friends on all the time when I just want something on. 😛 ) Like fun things you get excited to do! My blog is definitely one of those things for me. When I’m home alone at night, I can work on that. And I actually look forward to it, and it’s something I may not do as much if he were home every night. I also like doing DIY stuff around the house or decorating. I love to workout! I go to Crossfit and run, and that can take up a lot of time! And I have learned a ton about photography and editing and have so much fun with that too. And not to mention I cook a ton. OH and cleaning. Not that that’s a hobby, but I try to do that when Ben is gone so that when he is home, we can hang out. #luckyduck

4. I don’t know if this one helps me not feel lonely but it think it’s really important for you man to know you support him. As much as some days might be hard, I would actually never want Ben to stop doing what he’s doing. So while I do tell him I miss him or that it’s hard sometimes, I don’t ever want to make him feel like I’m mad at him for having this job or that it’s his fault. I want him to know he’s loved and supported, and we’re a team, and I’m proud of him for what he does and happy he gets to work a job he loves! And thinking about how happy they are to get to do what they’re doing makes it not so bad that they’re gone.

5. This one may be crazy so I’m just putting it out there. I totally understand this might not be feasible for some people’s lives. BUT. If you at all have the option of what kind of job YOU have, and can find something you love doing that has a flexible schedule, I would highly recommend it. I know I am very fortunate to have a job I love that allows me to make my own schedule. I work later into the evenings when Ben is gone at work so a lot of times, I don’t even have time to miss him being home at night because I’m not either! And then I am able to plan time off when he has time off. So if he has a Monday/Tuesday off, I’ll take them off too. Just in a long term situation (aka marriage!), I feel like having a schedule that can be molded to theirs is super beneficial. And despite the fact that their schedules are hard, they do get a lot of perks too! Both of our vacations we recently took to Belize and Hawaii, Ben didn’t even have to take vacation time! He just traded some shifts with guys. And then I was just able to schedule my clients around our trips.

6.  Lastly one of the questions I got a few time was about dealing with loneliness. I actually ended up talking to Ben about this one today because I had to ask him if I tell him very often that I feel lonely. And to be honest, you guys, I really don’t that often at all. And once again, I’m going to tell you that it’s all because of Jesus. I feel like I’ve allowed Him to fill that space in my heart that could be filled by a husband or a job or a friendship. And because of that, when Ben is gone, while I do miss him, I don’t feel that emptiness that I very well could. It’s the same reason I don’t worry too much about Ben either. One of them number one questions I get when I tell people that he is a firefighter is if I worry a lot. And I don’t. You guys. Prayer CHANGES things. And I don’t mean just in the moment. I mean it changes your whole life. I used to be a worrier, and God has done a 180 on my heart because I trust Him and because I know that my worrying doesn’t accomplish anything. I could feel lonely for sure all the time when Ben is gone. But I don’t. And it’s one thousand percent because of God’s continuous work in my heart and life.

I’m not going to tell you that there aren’t going to be days that it doesn’t just plain suck. Ben can’t call me on the phone or even text me a lot of the time throughout the day. If I want to talk to him (unless it’s an emergency), I can’t. We’re married but we don’t sleep together half the time. Ben once left in the middle of a wedding because he had to go to work. Another time we were on our first date in a week, and we had to leave because he had to go to work. I can’t tell you how many family events I’ve gone to without him or how many times I have to go places alone, and people ask where he is. He misses holidays and birthdays and making memories. Sometimes I think that one is the hardest. Missing memories.

But at the end of the day, I know he absolutely LOVES his job. He texted me a few weeks ago while he was at work to say how much he loves his job and that he can’t believe his dream came true. To me, THAT is worth it. And you just have to be really purposeful with your time together. We make fun plans and take little trips together whenever we can. Those are the times we can get our love tanks filled up and feel ready for the next day or days apart.

Whew. I feel like that was A LOT. And that I could have said even more. 😛 If you have any other questions at all or something else you want to me cover, send me an email (moxiebennett@gmail.com) or a DM on Instagram. I hope I was helpful in some way and that any of you in the same position feel more hopeful. You guys. Just like anything in life, I really believe that trying to do this without Jesus is a dead end road. No matter what you try to do to fill the space or time until God truly comes in and changes you and fills your heart, it’s going to be hard. I  know I still have places that need filling in. We’re all in this and learning together. It’s just my hope that if anything by  reading this, you are inspired to look to God for your needs and to be a woman who is secure in Jesus and able to stand in any situation you face simply because you have Him.

 

xoxo,

Christine

P.S. Outfit deets below since this IS a fashion blog. 😛

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