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Thread: Firefighters and Divorce

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    Default Firefighters and Divorce

    Statistically, firefighters (among other professions such as police and attorneys) have a higher than average divorce rate. Just wondering what the main contributing factors are as they relate to career/full time firefighters.

    I often hear people blame it on the nights away from home, though I'm not buying that explanation. Perhaps I'm being naive, but most career firefighters only work an avg of 9 to 10 days per month. And most departments operate on the 24/48 shift schedule (at least in my region), which means that every shift is like working on friday and the Kelly rotations allow 5 straight days off approx 14 times per year. Heck, I know guys whose primary reason for taking the job was because of the work schedule and days off. So, time away from the family can't be the reason.

    Thoughts??? Comments???
    Last edited by FIREJAWZ; 05-18-2013 at 11:39 AM.

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    My divorce had nothing to do with the job.

    We married too young, had no idea who we really were, and after 26 years had nothing in common and in the end really didn't even like each other anymore.

    Now we are both remarried to other people of course. I am much happier and I hope she is as well.
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    Dag... 26 years? Well, better late than never when doing the right thing. Glad you're happy now!

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    It is what it is Brother. My new wife was married over 20 the first time too!
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    My divorce wasn't directly caused by the job, although the fire service has something to do with it. It came down to my priorities being completely out of whack.

    My department (nor any of the departments in my area) doesn't use Kelly days, but we still have a funky yet good schedule that gives us three days off in a row one week, followed by the five days off the following week. Instead of using this time to spend it with my wife, I instead used it to staff my volunteer station, go on road trips, manage my website, and teach fire service topics for the state. She tried over and over to tell me there was a problem, but I was too stubborn to listen. Eventually, she found someone else, and we got a divorce.

    That was almost seven years ago. I've since remarried to someone I'm madly in love with, we have a kid, and I'm happier than ever. My ex and I are still friends and talk quite a bit - come to find out, we're actually better friends now than we were before. Who knew?
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    Nine or ten days a month don’t sound like much, but out a twenty one year marriage you are gone for seven of those years. Another thing is that a lot of guys/gals have a second job and that takes more time away from the family. It is all about making sure you have your priorities straight and not neglecting your family. Something to keep in mind also is that unless your spouse has been exposed to the fire service they can have a hard time dealing with the hours, the stories, and the overall life of being a firefighter spouse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    Nine or ten days a month don’t sound like much, but out a twenty one year marriage you are gone for seven of those years. Another thing is that a lot of guys/gals have a second job and that takes more time away from the family. It is all about making sure you have your priorities straight and not neglecting your family. Something to keep in mind also is that unless your spouse has been exposed to the fire service they can have a hard time dealing with the hours, the stories, and the overall life of being a firefighter spouse.
    When I met her wife 2.0 was working 2300 to 0730 so the idea of being home alone at night did not apply. She worked what many consider an odd schedule, 3rd shift and many holidays and weekends. So the fact that I worked 24's and many weekends and some holidays was easy for her to adjust to. We spent many days together, or evenings into the early morning when she didn't work because we are both night owls. We made our weird schedules work great for time together.

    Now that I think of it wife 1.0 was an early to bed early to rise person and I have always been an up all night sleep all day kind of guy...
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    When I met her wife 2.0 was working 2300 to 0730 so the idea of being home alone at night did not apply. She worked what many consider an odd schedule, 3rd shift and many holidays and weekends. So the fact that I worked 24's and many weekends and some holidays was easy for her to adjust to. We spent many days together, or evenings into the early morning when she didn't work because we are both night owls. We made our weird schedules work great for time together.

    Now that I think of it wife 1.0 was an early to bed early to rise person and I have always been an up all night sleep all day kind of guy...
    I would say that age also plays a factor. Being young, newly married, and/or young kids involved can also play a part and create problems. There were expectations from my wife that I failed to see partly because of being young and dumb.

    I know that I worked way to much and that became a big problem over time, coupled with that when I was home I wanted to sleep because I was bone tired from working.

    With you and 2.0 you was older and wiser and she was used to a messed up work schedule or she just wanted a challenge . A younger person full of hopes and dreams may have a hard time or refuse to adjust to how a firefighters schedule/lifestyle is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIREJAWZ View Post
    Statistically, firefighters (among other professions such as police and attorneys) have a higher than average divorce rate. Just wondering what the main contributing factors are as they relate to career/full time firefighters.

    I often hear people blame it on the nights away from home, though I'm not buying that explanation. Perhaps I'm being naive, but most career firefighters only work an avg of 9 to 10 days per month. And most departments operate on the 24/48 shift schedule (at least in my region), which means that every shift is like working on friday and the Kelly rotations allow 5 straight days off approx 14 times per year. Heck, I know guys whose primary reason for taking the job was because of the work schedule and days off. So, time away from the family can't be the reason.

    Thoughts??? Comments???
    Invalid argument - there is a difference between "time away from the family" and "nights away from home".
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    Quote Originally Posted by FIREJAWZ View Post
    Statistically, firefighters (among other professions such as police and attorneys) have a higher than average divorce rate. Just wondering what the main contributing factors are as they relate to career/full time firefighters.

    I often hear people blame it on the nights away from home, though I'm not buying that explanation. Perhaps I'm being naive, but most career firefighters only work an avg of 9 to 10 days per month. And most departments operate on the 24/48 shift schedule (at least in my region), which means that every shift is like working on friday and the Kelly rotations allow 5 straight days off approx 14 times per year. Heck, I know guys whose primary reason for taking the job was because of the work schedule and days off. So, time away from the family can't be the reason.

    Thoughts??? Comments???
    While the number of shifts may appear low, in reality, most FF schedules produce the same or greater number of hours worked in that given month. What benefits do you see from having 24 hrs off when most likely the wife is working the day time part of that shift. In other words, just because you are off doesn't mean she is as well. I work a 4 platoon schedule consisting of 2 day shifts followed by 2 night shifts followed by 3 days off. My wife gets angry at times complaining about the number of days off I have. I kindly remind her that in those 4 shifts I work, I will have done more hours than she will in 5 shifts. I realize that my response isn't the best way to handle the situation as it turns the conversation into a perceived competition of who does more.

    I would suggest the above average divorce rate has more to do with work stress, schedules outside the norm for your average worker and a devotion and enjoyment in a profession that the spouse becomes jealous of over time. To put it in perspective, on your worst day at work, I would surmise that greater than 90% of FFers go home still thinking they have the best job in the world. What do you think the average rate for other professions to be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    I would say that age also plays a factor. Being young, newly married, and/or young kids involved can also play a part and create problems. There were expectations from my wife that I failed to see partly because of being young and dumb.

    I didn't become a career firefighter until 10 years into our marriage. So the newlywed thing was not a factor.

    I know that I worked way to much and that became a big problem over time, coupled with that when I was home I wanted to sleep because I was bone tired from working.

    I had to work almost a 100 hours a week back then spread among the FD and 4 part-time jobs because she refused to work to stay home with our son. To me her refusal to return to work after the kids were in school and the attitude that I should work as much as possible to pay the bills was the biggest factor in the divorce. Because I worked so much I wasn't home for family time and when I was I was angry at the situation I found myself in. So family time was often tense and not very enjoyable.

    With you and 2.0 you was older and wiser and she was used to a messed up work schedule or she just wanted a challenge . A younger person full of hopes and dreams may have a hard time or refuse to adjust to how a firefighters schedule/lifestyle is.

    Again, wife 1.0 and I were married for 10 years before the FD became a part of our lives.
    Too many other issues were involved in my case. I don't see the FD as having any fault at all in my divorce.
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    Not being a career guy I can not speculate about shift work but a volunteer at our station said the fire and ambulance played a huge role in his divorce. I did read once that smokejumpers have a divorce rate of 100% if you count multiple marriages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Invalid argument - there is a difference between "time away from the family" and "nights away from home".
    Plus the holiday thing, missed aniversaries, cancelled plans due to mandatory overtime, held over due to a call at shift trade etc. On the wildland side we get the 14 day road trips which can cause stress for the unprepared.
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    I'd say there are three reasons why most any marriage fails.

    The first is not having God in your lives.

    The second is not taking the time before you get married to get to know the person you're going to marry. Not knowing what the want out of you, them not knowing what you want out of them, and what your hopes and plans for the future are.

    Thirdly, Communication. If you can't talk honestly, how are you supposed to make a marriage work?
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I'd say there are three reasons why most any marriage fails.

    The first is not having God in your lives.

    If this is important to you the you had better find a partner that it matters to. To me this becomes a bigger issue if you thought you and your partner were on the same dance card religion wise and then one goes off the deep end and is reborn. It is unrealistic to expect a partner that has no interest in that aspect of religion to go along with that. It was important to wife 1.0 to go to church and take the kids while we were married, I was ambilvalent. When we got divorced she dropped the whole church thing altogether and never took the kids again. I stopped going to church also. Wife 2.0 the upgrade, was raised Catholic and has worked hard her whole adult life to free herself from the immense guilt that that church uses to control people. We are not church goers and share a similar faith that you probably would tell me I will burn in hell for.

    The second is not taking the time before you get married to get to know the person you're going to marry. Not knowing what the want out of you, them not knowing what you want out of them, and what your hopes and plans for the future are.

    I agree and that is why I advocated with my kids not to be in a rush to get married.

    Thirdly, Communication. If you can't talk honestly, how are you supposed to make a marriage work?

    If you realize that NO ONE ever tells the 100% truth as a qualifier, then yes, as honest of communication as possible is generally best.
    I always tell people that the biggest reasons marriages fail is because people forget that in every marriage there are 3 personalities. Yours, hers, and you as a couple. You need to remember that there are things you care about and like to do your wife could care less about, and there are things she cares about and likes to do that you could care less about, and then there are the things you do together that make you a couple. If you destroy any one of these three personalities you will destroy your marriage in short order. realizing of course compromise must come into play.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I always tell people that the biggest reasons marriages fail is because people forget that in every marriage there are 3 personalities. Yours, hers, and you as a couple. You need to remember that there are things you care about and like to do your wife could care less about, and there are things she cares about and likes to do that you could care less about, and then there are the things you do together that make you a couple. If you destroy any one of these three personalities you will destroy your marriage in short order. realizing of course compromise must come into play.
    Being "reborn" is not "going off the deep end". There are those that do, i know one person who would not sing happy birthday because it was not a Christian song. But that's an extreme example. Most people don't know the real meaning of being reborn. And I get the Catholic guilt thing, I know a lot of former Catholics, but I also know a few Catholics that a good Christians, it depends on how much they actually study the Bible.

    But a couple definitely needs to be on the same page in regards to faith. I'll just say that of the people I know in my Christian Fellowship, I only know of a handfull that have been divorced in the last 25 years. (I'm refering to the ones were both parties were in Fellowship, or at least in another Christian church) Personnally, I know it's gotten my wife and I through building a house, a deployment to Iraq, and a host of other trials and tribulations. And right now, things couldn't be better.

    I like the three personalities analagy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    But a couple definitely needs to be on the same page in regards to faith.
    I'll have to disagree with this. My wife was raised Southern Baptist. When she moved up here, she started going to a Lutheran church, and still is a believer, however life and schedules don't allow her to go to church. Myself, I've all but denounced religion? I guess you could say that I'm agnostic. There could be a deity? There could not be? Who knows. But I was force fed religion as a child growing up, pushed through baptism and confirmation against my will. I did my own research and reading, and I've actually read the bible cover to cover. Through all of that I learned 2 things. 1. There really is no way to know if there is or is not a god, unless you have the proper faith (which apparently I don't). And 2. Organized religion is a crock in my book. I don't need to go sit in church on Sunday to get someone else's interpretation of the bible and beg for forgiveness. I can more than do that on my own. THAT ALL BEING SAID, I do NOT condemn, mock, or speak ill of others who wish to be religious, and attend church. I don't tell them they are wrong, or their fath in something they don't know exists is untrue. If it works for them, GREAT, more power to you. I expect the same level of respect for my thoughts and beliefs on the subject as well.

    I'll just say that of the people I know in my Christian Fellowship, I only know of a handfull that have been divorced in the last 25 years. (I'm refering to the ones were both parties were in Fellowship, or at least in another Christian church) Personnally, I know it's gotten my wife and I through building a house, a deployment to Iraq, and a host of other trials and tribulations. And right now, things couldn't be better.

    And if that works for your friends, that's great. It's pretty clear that it works for you, and that's great for you and your wife. However that doesn't always have to be the case with every married couple. My wife and I have found PLENTY of other things to bond over and do together that don't involve the topic of religion.
    Further into my point, when I got married, my wife already had a daughter. She's 9 now, and recently my wife and I had the religion discussion. My wife said that work schedule permitting, she wouldn't mind starting to go to church again. My daughter regularly goes to church with her dad and her grandparents. My wife expressed that if she went, she would like to take our daughter with her. My only reply was that if our daughter wanted to go, that was great. But if she came to one of us and expressed that she no longer wished to go to church, that we should follow her wishes, because the one thing that kills most people towards religion is having it crammed down there throat. And my wife agreed to that with no issues whatsoever.

    Like I said, I'm NOT anti-Christian, or even anti-religion, nor do I condemn people who have the faith to believe or attend church. It works for them, that's awesome. But personally, it doesn't work for me, and I don't agree with organized religion.


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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Being "reborn" is not "going off the deep end". If you were not a religious person, married a person who was not a religious person, and presented yourself as that person, and then all of a sudden found God and started going to church every Sunday, and became an active member all of the church's committees AND changed your entire lifestyle...YES, that is going off the deep end. To expect your partner to say HURRAY, when they made it clear that is not who they are or what they want is just a disaster waiting to happen. It is no less shocking or abrupt a lifestyle change for your uninterested partner than becoming a drug addict. There are those that do, i know one person who would not sing happy birthday because it was not a Christian song. But that's an extreme example. Most people don't know the real meaning of being reborn. I completely understand the meaning of being reborn. The problem again comes in when one partner "Sees the light" and is reborn and the other wants no part of it. You, by being reborn have changed the entire context of the relationship. If the other partner is reborn too then the issues are gone, if they aren't it seems to me the constant philosophical differences will lead to conflict, particularly if what was commonplace activities before they were reborn are no longer "allowed." Further the type of people that will no longer sing as simple a song as Happy Birthday are almost always a royal pain in the azz because they just can't ever shut up about their new found life with God. To me it is simple, believe what ever you need to to get through your life, but once I tell you I am not interested give me the courtesy to shut up about it and move on. Because if you don't my politeness and decorum will disappear faster than you ever want to see. And I get the Catholic guilt thing, I know a lot of former Catholics, but I also know a few Catholics that a good Christians, it depends on how much they actually study the Bible. Look, I never questoned whether they are "good Christians" or not so don't try to put those words in my mouth. To me, most former Catholics always talk about how the church perpetuates the guilt of sin, and tht guilt is the primary motivator for not doing something the church says is wrong.

    But a couple definitely needs to be on the same page in regards to faith. Therein lies the problem in a couple where one is reborn and the other has no interest, Conflict is about to occur simply because of philosophical differences. I'll just say that of the people I know in my Christian Fellowship, I only know of a handfull that have been divorced in the last 25 years. Well good for them. My parents, neither of them ever went to church in the 40 plus years they were married before my Dad passed away, never spent a minute in church other than for weddings and funerals. How did they do it? Simple compatability. (I'm refering to the ones were both parties were in Fellowship, or at least in another Christian church) Personnally, I know it's gotten my wife and I through building a house, a deployment to Iraq, and a host of other trials and tribulations. And right now, things couldn't be better. That is fantastic for YOU. It doesn't make it the answer for everyone.

    I like the three personalities analagy. It is 100 percent accurate.
    I say people should believe whatever they wish to believe as long as that belief harms no one. My problem with most religions, including Christianity, is the bias towards anyone believing anything other than what they believe. The sad truth is more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason in the history of the world and Chritians don't get a pass on that either. Just a few examples would be the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials.

    I am very ecletic in my beliefs and the simple fact is almost every religion has been so watered down, so bastardized, so commercialized, that the true meanings of love your neighbor, help those you can whenever you can, and harm no one, are lost amongst the pomp, circumstance and bigotry. Frankly, I like a tenant of the Wiccan belief that says "As ye harm none, do as ye will." What a simple, basic, pure way to live our lives.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 05-24-2013 at 04:52 PM.
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    Could it be that some firefighters are type 1 personalities and have the morals of alleycats????

    Been happily married 38 years to the same woman and share revolving schedules with my wife who is a nurse.
    It takes two to remain committed in a relationship
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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    Could it be that some firefighters are type 1 personalities and have the morals of alleycats????

    Been happily married 38 years to the same woman and share revolving schedules with my wife who is a nurse.
    It takes two to remain committed in a relationship
    Yes it does take two, and it isn't always the firefighter, or his schedule's fault, that things go bad.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 05-24-2013 at 07:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chenzo View Post
    Further into my point, when I got married, my wife already had a daughter. She's 9 now, and recently my wife and I had the religion discussion. My wife said that work schedule permitting, she wouldn't mind starting to go to church again. My daughter regularly goes to church with her dad and her grandparents. My wife expressed that if she went, she would like to take our daughter with her. My only reply was that if our daughter wanted to go, that was great. But if she came to one of us and expressed that she no longer wished to go to church, that we should follow her wishes, because the one thing that kills most people towards religion is having it crammed down there throat. And my wife agreed to that with no issues whatsoever.

    Like I said, I'm NOT anti-Christian, or even anti-religion, nor do I condemn people who have the faith to believe or attend church. It works for them, that's awesome. But personally, it doesn't work for me, and I don't agree with organized religion.


    I apologize for the powder keg I'm sure I ignited here......
    I think you've written off "organized religion" because you've had a bad experience with it. It obviously wasn't the way it's supposed to be. You can't force someone to have faith, that's for sure.
    However, there IS as way to know that God is real. When you look at the Big picture, you can see it. But I'll leave that up to you to see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I say people should believe whatever they wish to believe as long as that belief harms no one. My problem with most religions, including Christianity, is the bias towards anyone believing anything other than what they believe. The sad truth is more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason in the history of the world and Chritians don't get a pass on that either. Just a few examples would be the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials.

    I am very ecletic in my beliefs and the simple fact is almost every religion has been so watered down, so bastardized, so commercialized, that the true meanings of love your neighbor, help those you can whenever you can, and harm no one, are lost amongst the pomp, circumstance and bigotry. Um, that's COMPLETELY WRONG, in terms of the Bible. What Christians say or do themselves is another matter. Frankly, I like a tenant of the Wiccan belief that says "As ye harm none, do as ye will." What a simple, basic, pure way to live our lives.
    You should look up what Penn Gillette says about Christians spreading the word.

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    Um, that's COMPLETELY WRONG, in terms of the Bible. What Christians say or do themselves is another matter.
    What's completely wrong about what I said?
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    I get a lot of support from my family for the fire dept. I am the first in my families history to be a firefighter so the info is all new to them and so far they don't seem to get too aggravated by my constant talking about what I do. I do walk kind of a weird line with the time spent on my day job and time with the dept. My wife will start to get upset when I spend too much time training and working on the station and trucks. However, she does not get mad when I spend 16 to 20 hours farming and don't see the kids for a week at a time. I guess if I were a career firefighter and spent too much time farming she would get upset as well! She does not seem to get upset when I do a tour with the State fighting wildland fire, maybe because I get paid for that.
    It is really hard to see things from her perspective when I get so much satisfaction from the job, but she says she sees more of me now that I quit drinking and spend the time now with the FD. Gawd, I must have been drinking a lot!
    Last edited by conrad427; 05-27-2013 at 11:48 PM.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I think you've written off "organized religion" because you've had a bad experience with it. It obviously wasn't the way it's supposed to be.

    I agree that's not how it was supposed to be, and I can see where you're coming from as you don't know, and I won't explain, the whole story/background/what have you. But yes, your assumption based on the info I provided is valid. However, let me just say that what I mentioned wasn't the only interaction I've had with organized religion. I freely went back on my own, to different churches, several times, after I was trying to figure things out, and found that it still wasn't for me, for various reasons that I won't list here because I don't wish to offend anyone (beyond my normal offensiveness, lol) who choose and like to attend church.

    You can't force someone to have faith, that's for sure.

    Couldn't agree more.

    However, there IS as way to know that God is real. When you look at the Big picture, you can see it. But I'll leave that up to you to see.

    For some, yeah I'll agree. They have the faith to look at the bigger picture and see it. I look at the bigger picture and see things for what they are. Most things can be explained with tangible things/methods/treatments. And those that can't, in my opinion, doesn't necessarily mean there is a God. Again, just my opinions.
    Different strokes for different folks, brother. I don't condemn anyone who has faith, attends church, or believes there is a God. However, that's just not my style. I'm more of a physical/tangible proof sort of guy, and I just can't jump on board the religion train. It's not for lack of trying either.
    "A fire department that writes off civilians faster than an express line of 6 reasons or less is not progressive, it's dangerous, because it's run by fear. Fear does not save lives, it endangers them." -- Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY

    "Because if you don't think you're good, nobody else will." -- DC Tom Laun (ret) Syracuse

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