I'm new here and found this site through Google. My marriage has been falling apart for some time now. I would like it to last, but I think my wife has given up and the kids are suffering. I'm affraid that divorce is in the future. I love my kids and love being a dad. How can you possibly be a single parent and paid firefighter. I have three kids 8 - 1 year old and my shifts are 48/72. How do you do it?

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Hey John: Welcome...

This is a great topic. I am glad you started this discussion. I can only give a quick response now, but will come chat more later.

Try marriage counseling... if for no other reason than to work through hard feelings so you can have a peaceful separation and sufficient visitation plan. My first thought is always get professional help to fight for your marriage - and if your wife will not go, then you should go to therapy yourself to help work through the intensity of the matter. Find a good relationship counselor - it is well worth the money - for you and your kids. As a last resort plan a peaceful split, well-discussed and well-planned.

Parenting depends some on the age of your kids - what are their ages and gender?

btw - on average is costs $30-50 K per person to get divorced.

Hang in there. Marriage takes work, and single parenting takes work. Life is work. Good job preparing and planning and seeking counsel.
Thanks for responding so quickly.

I have brought up counseling many times and my wife just smirks. I even went to see a marriage counselor a couple of years ago. My wife refused to go, but I went alone and I learned quite a bit about myself and how to work on some of my own faults. She refuses to try though and sees me as being the problem. I'm too the point were I look forward to going to work so I don't have to put up with our drama and I would rather sit at work than return home at the end of the shift. I have remained faithful and kept fighting for our marriage and for the kids, but I'm starting to see that us staying together may only be doing more harm for the kids as well as my wife and I.

If worst comes to worst I know there is no way I would gain full custody of my kids. They are just too young and the state would not allow it. However, if I could get them on my days off I would be very happy. I would let her have everything (house, furniture, the good car) for my kids on my days off.

As I mentioned I don't want a divorce. I still remember the good oal days and I keep hope that they will return, but I can't do it alone. She needs to step in so that we can move forward together.
If you want to keep the marriage, then you need to fight for it. Find a good family therapist that will work with you and will be willing to talk to your wife as well, even if just by phone. You can direct it from the angle that you are wanting to be a better husband to her and father to the kids and if she is able to attend family / couples counseling with you she can help the therapist better guide you in the ways you need to work in.

Some women feel more comfortable seeing a female therapist, while men feel more comfortable with a male therapist. Some agencies will do co-therapy, one male therapist and one female therapist.

MANY MANY MANY people are able to save their marriages even if only one partner is working on the relationship activity... and the fact that she is still around, is not by accident - apparently she has still some investment in you emotionally - even if she can not voice it.

The #1 need for women is SECURITY and SAFETY !!! So your primary goal will be to constantly make her feel safe and secure. In this financial economy - women are freaking out - because they are very scared financially and do not feel safe or secure and therefore can not focus on improving their relationships - since they are in survival mode only.

Also, you need to forget about the good ol' days gone by - and WORK HARD to BUILD a new relationship now. People change - EVERYONE changes automatically over time - and if you do not change and keep up with your changing spouse - you will quickly get left behind and feel out in the cold. You need to learn to love your wife for the person that she has developed into - not just where she came from. One of the worse things a man can say to a woman is "You used to be so much _____________." or "How come you don't do ________________ anymore." We women are very sensitive about the past and how life becomes hard work and we can be the sweet innocent young women anymore. We mourn our past, and it stresses us out when our men mourn it as well.

We want or men to worship us where we are at...

We women want more than anything to be worshipped by our partners...

We want our men to appreciate us for being good women, for being good neighbors, for being good community members, for being good mothers, for being good friends, for being good a cooking and cleaning, for being good at caring and nurturing, for being good wives. We WANT / NEED to be appreciated for our efforts and out intentions, not just our obvious successes.

While a man may like to be praised for his succes by his wife once a week, women want it 100 times a week.

Our men are the #1 motivator and creator of our security and safety.
Some excellent books to buy and read over and over immediately -

as you change - your family will have to change - it is the natural law of physics - nothing stays constant in a stay of change

Dr. John Gottman - leader in marital therapy - wrote a slew of books. These are two of my favorite - EASY to understand... and easy to put immediately into practice in your marriage and family...

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage


Dr. Gary Chapman - leader in relational therapy and family development - wrote:

The 5 Love Languages

Also, there is a theory that a double-minded man will not make forward movement. So perhaps since you want to keep this marriage - you want to focus all of your efforts towards that direction.

Perhaps you would be better served starting a post in the general discussion on this website for the masses of fire fighters... MANY MANY MANY of the fire fighters on here struggle with the same problem and they talk about it often on here - many of them have great suggestions on how to restructure and rebuild your family - and can give a great deal of emotional support during the time you work on this big, yet extremely important, AND TOTALLY ACHIEVABLE project.

Pose some questions like...

"I need suggestions on how to keep my marriage together and strengthen my marriage while I work as a f/t Firefighter and juggle the needs of three small kids?"

"How do I better meet the needs of my wife to make her happier in our relationship and move us into this next phase of life stronger, so that we do not fall apart under the stress of life, work and family?"

"How do I balance wife, kids, and work and keep everyone happy?"
Well without prying there isn't much to make a judgement call here except for the fact that she is not at all willing to go to therapy and refuses to place blame on both sides.You put forth effort to fix your short-comings but marriage is a two-way street and she has chose to allow you to go down the it's all your fault street while turned down the it's never my fault street.Sounds to me that she has somewhat checked out already,But if it don't work out then you can atleast walk away knowing you tried as hard as you could ALONE.
Were you a FF when you met or tryng to be?If so she should have known that this was part of the package.Therapy alone doesn't fix all but gets you headed in the right direction and I think that if you haven't maybe rent "Fireproof".This is an excellent movie and really it matches your situation to a tee.I highly recommend watching it.
Let me know how it works.Keep in touch please.
heather your making it sound like it's all his fault! :0(
Therein lies the problem with the internet - and this form of communication - you can not hear my intent. I was not thinking blame on any side - life is to blame. Relationships are like a garden - if not constantly tended - it will wither and die!


My primary intent was to identify that the man has a lot of power in the situation - even at this stage in the process. All is not lost.

My 2nd intent was to define some of the issues from the female perspective - in case that has not been considered yet. I always need a man to tell me what a man needs - since I have little clue most of the time.

If that did not clarify enough - tell me Richard what part specifically focused that direction and I will explain it better or re-word it to better reflect my true intent.

One thing that works for women often - when we see our men working hard at meeting our needs and being more attentive as better husbands - we commonly work harder at being better wives. I commonly see "better" is a subjective word - it usually means misplaced energy and the mission to focus energy - or feeling better about ourselves and our partners and our personal mission to improve our relationship and not tolerate it being a wreck.

I BELIEVE STRONGLY THAT ONE PERSON CAN DRAMATICALLY CHANGE THE TRAJECTORY OF THE ENTIRE FAMILY AND CAN SAVE A MARRIAGE - EVEN WITHOUT THE OTHER PERSON KNOWING IT !!! Under the rule - it takes two to tango... to takes two to fight... it takes two to avoid each other... etc. etc. etc.
Setting up relationship counseling where the wife participates to assist you - instead of to be interrogated and criticized, she will not feel as threatened... and hopefully, she will open up and spill her guts about what she is really thinking and feeling... and hopefully, in a neutral setting, she will open her mind and heart and THEN will LISTEN to your thoughts and feelings and realize that she needs to make some changes as well.
No it was just sounding like it when you were just saying stuff like a women needs to be told a hundred times and we want to be appreciated for everything they do it just made it sound like that is what he was doing wrong.Men know these things and try our best to do them some do a better job than others but most show that.Men also need to be appreciated and we are hard wired to take care of our families and in todays society that means work your balls off but in the end providing actually tends to drive them away and it gets to be a shitty situation for the guy who thought he was doing good.I've been through this and it sucks when you thought you were doing good when it turns out it was worse then you slow work down an your an ass for not providing enough but you can't cause your not making the same money you were.
Relationships are like I said two way streets and he's cleaning his up and she is not so i hope that she will realize that it is a long road but not all his fault
Now what would you have said if I was telling him - a man - about what a man needs ??? (maybe tomorrow ;-)

It is SCARY to be a firefighter's wife !!!

Security IS NOT always about money - often it is about a plan and reassurance and comfort that we are in it together no matter what...

and you know we women can be crazy - at times... ok... lots of times... take it up with God - she made us !!! We women overwhelm easily - and you men tell us women that you do not understand us and what we need and to better spell it out !!!

my comments would have been dramatically different if I were talking to the wife - I agree a million % that all parties need to work on it - but if someone does not have that luxury - they need to do what they can with what they have available to them.


merely changing your pattern of communication or your pattern of fighting can dramatically change your relationship...

such as if you normally walk away, then stay and fight it out... if you normally stay and fight it out, then start walking away... if you normally yell try writing all your responses or whispering... you see the pattern - when one side of the interaction changes - the other side has to adapt to the change in some fashion

I have a couple of friends who are so desperate to save their marriages that they agreed to only fight naked - so whenever they start fighting - they immediately start taking off their clothes - since it changes the tone of the fight when people are naked.

My other friends get so hostile and yell at each other so much - that in order to try to save their marriage - they now only text their fights - so they can edit their words - not raise their voices at each other - the kids don't see as much of the fighting - and they text a truce point - and then go back to clean/pleasant face-to-face communication as though the text fight did not even happen. They are much happier...
Just curious....You said that she sees you as being the problem. Why? You don't have to tell me but I would find that out if you don't know already and work from there. Also maybe try a short term separation for awhile to maybe let things cool off and thought processes about what life would be like without eachother take place? Sometimes cold hard reality helps to motivate a change in feelings. Relationships are a two way street though, a woman needs to take care of her man too and not expect to be the center of attention all the time. Crap, did I say that? ;) Men need appreciation, respect and love too.


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