First Responder couples know that it can be really hard to stay connected during shift days. We know all too well that being in a relationship with a firefighter comes with a unique set of challenges, so we decided to put together 6 of our best tips for staying connected while your first responder is on shift. Ok, here it goes:
1. Tell Him All The Things And when we say “all the things”, we mean ALL THE THINGS. We don’t know when it became commonplace to pretend like life doesn’t happen when they’re gone, but this is one piece of advice I see thrown around all the time that we strongly disagree with. Yes, his job is hard and exhausting. Yes, he needs to be able to concentrate on what’s happening at work, but he is your partner, he deserves to know that your life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns while he is gone.
Now, we’re not saying to burden him with a bunch of negativity. There are ways for you to vent without making him feel bad for not being there. Let him know you don’t want him to fix anything, but you need him to listen and know what you are going through. By opening up the communication between you, you’re better able to understand each other when one of you is grumpy or snippy. It will be a process, and it won’t be perfect, but you will be closer when you are able to talk about EVERYTHING in your relationship, without feeling guilty because he is on shift. 2. Play “Get to Know You” Games
One of my favorite games to play when it feels like we’re going through the motions and don’t have much to talk about is This or That. It may seem silly, but it’s a great way to get the conversation rolling whether you are speaking on the phone or just texting back and forth. You may think you know all the answers, but sometimes they'll surprise you and you can use that opportunity to ask follow up questions.
3. Stash Love Notes in His Bag
Something fun that will give him a little boost is to stash little love notes in his bag, wallet, or pockets. Stick them where he will randomly find them throughout his shift as a little reminder that you’re thinking about him. Keep them short and sweet, a random ‘I love you’, ‘you’re hot’ and ‘I like the way your butt looks in those pants’ can go a long way. Whether it’s on random sticky notes you have in your house or dedicated cards like these Tiny Love Cards . They’re sure to bring a smile to his face. 4. “Open When” Cards
Take the love notes a step further and create some “Open When” cards. I like to send my firefighter off with a handful of Open When cards and replenish them as needed.
You can use these as a place to offer encouragement and let him know how much he means to you. Some ideas for your “Open When” Cards:
You Miss Me
You’ve Had a Rough Call
You’ve Been Up all Night
The options are endless and can be catered to your unique situation. 5. Send Him a morning text message to say “I love you” When they are away on shift, it can be hard to communicate, without making it about the mundane everyday things. Make an effort to send at least one text every day that tells him how much you appreciate and love him. Even if you know he won’t/can’t respond, at least he is getting a daily affirmation of your love for him. Some examples could include:
“The day we met, was one best day on a long list of the best days of my life I get to spend with you!”
“Even though I miss you when you’re away, I appreciate that you work hard to take care of us.”
“You are so darn easy to love. How did I get so lucky?”
“You are my knight in dirty turnouts (or wildland gear).”
“I had the biggest smile on my face when I thought of the time we _________ together.” 6. Schedule a Timeout Together This may sound contrived. Or maybe even a little awkward, but some of the longest relationships that I have known, the couple scheduled date nights every week. Now before you go saying something like “ but when fire season hits, he doesn’t have regular days off” or “what if he gets forced overtime,” or “there isn’t time in our schedule.''
We’re not talking about a date that goes on for hours. We’re talking about a time every week that you set aside to reconnect as a couple, and trust, a phone date counts!
If you don’t schedule your time, someone else will. Block out a few minutes each week for the two of you to sit down and chat, heck, if you get to do it over a nice meal or glass of wine, great, if not, pick up that smart phone and skype or facetime. I mean, how else are you supposed to tell him “all the things” right? Okay couples, now we want to hear your best tips for staying connected in your relationship! Hit us up in the comments with all your best advice!