All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

A Family Affair - Your Family and Your Fire Career

November 24, 2023 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 1 Episode 18
A Family Affair - Your Family and Your Fire Career
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
A Family Affair - Your Family and Your Fire Career
Nov 24, 2023 Season 1 Episode 18
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

Ever wondered how being a firefighter impacts family life, and vice versa? We, your hosts Travis and Eric, unravel the profound influence of family on our work in the fire service. Sharing from our own experiences, we reflect on the pivotal role our families play in our lives, offering us emotional support and understanding that anchors us in our line of duty. Yet, we also discuss the challenge of protecting our loved ones from the harsh realities of our work, and ensuring this vital support is not taken for granted.

The episode takes a bold stride into the realm of mental health. We delve into how the stress and trauma of being first responders can bleed into our personal lives and the lives of our family members. From using dark humor as a coping mechanism to recognizing signs of distress in our loved ones, we stress the absolute necessity of open communication. We also broach the often-overlooked aspect of how our work affects our families' mental health, and the significance of acknowledging and addressing these issues.

In this discussion, we share our strategies for supporting our families and recognizing when they might be grappling with our job-related challenges. Highlighting the importance of involving our families in our work to a healthy extent, we suggest incorporating them in training and education about our work. We share our personal triumphs and struggles with disconnecting from work, providing invaluable advice on maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. Wrapping up with some light-hearted chitchat, we invite you to share our podcast and spread the word to continue supporting us. The episode is rich with insights, anecdotes, and practical advice that's sure to resonate with other first responders and their families. So, tune in to explore the intricate dance between faith, family, and the fire service.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how being a firefighter impacts family life, and vice versa? We, your hosts Travis and Eric, unravel the profound influence of family on our work in the fire service. Sharing from our own experiences, we reflect on the pivotal role our families play in our lives, offering us emotional support and understanding that anchors us in our line of duty. Yet, we also discuss the challenge of protecting our loved ones from the harsh realities of our work, and ensuring this vital support is not taken for granted.

The episode takes a bold stride into the realm of mental health. We delve into how the stress and trauma of being first responders can bleed into our personal lives and the lives of our family members. From using dark humor as a coping mechanism to recognizing signs of distress in our loved ones, we stress the absolute necessity of open communication. We also broach the often-overlooked aspect of how our work affects our families' mental health, and the significance of acknowledging and addressing these issues.

In this discussion, we share our strategies for supporting our families and recognizing when they might be grappling with our job-related challenges. Highlighting the importance of involving our families in our work to a healthy extent, we suggest incorporating them in training and education about our work. We share our personal triumphs and struggles with disconnecting from work, providing invaluable advice on maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. Wrapping up with some light-hearted chitchat, we invite you to share our podcast and spread the word to continue supporting us. The episode is rich with insights, anecdotes, and practical advice that's sure to resonate with other first responders and their families. So, tune in to explore the intricate dance between faith, family, and the fire service.

Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


Also Visit Our Sponsors - Studio Print Shop at
studioprintshop.com

Speaker 1:

Today on All Clear, a family affair, your family and your fire service career. I'm Travis Got Eric, how you doing this morning, my friend.

Speaker 2:

Doing good man. Good to see you.

Speaker 1:

It's good to see you too. I understand you've been having a busy couple of weeks with some live burns and all that fun stuff yeah.

Speaker 2:

We've been running the fire academy through their live fire week and we've done a couple of extra burns outside of that. In the county We've burned some acquired structures. So yeah, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

Speaker 1:

That's good. At least things are being safe and I'm glad everything is working for you. I tell you we've been nuts around here as well, so it's good to get a chance to sit down. Had something on my mind today I wanted to talk to you about and one see what your thoughts were on it. Learn about family, and I'm a family man myself, got a son. I know you're a happily married man as well, and we bring stuff home sometimes, unfortunately, whether it's good or bad. But just wanted to talk a little bit about the impacts of family and how that plays into our industry. We have a lot of thoughts of family when we talk about the fire service. We talk about our fire family all the time, the guys that we spend time with at work, whether it be on shift, or the ones you work with all the time. But sometimes I think our regular families, our home families, get forgotten sometimes. What's your thought on that?

Speaker 2:

Oh, the family dynamic. You mentioned two different types of family the fire family and our regular family. And in our profession, yes, they both weigh heavy on us and they're both extremely important, but we cannot ever forget our actual blood relative families. That family dynamic needs to take precedence over everything, because if we are not without faith in family, we're stuck out in limbo land, the way I perceive it. So those two things are extremely important for me and I learned that the hard way.

Speaker 2:

In trying to put things in front of my family or above my family, it doesn't usually work out all that well in the end for us. So we can't ever forget where we come from, who our family truly is Not. Saying that the fire family is not is important, but they should not supersede our actual family. That's my own honest opinion. Whether people agree with it or not, that is up to them. That's my little disclaimer on that. So, yeah, we can open this up. This can be a can of worms for us right here, lead us down several different paths that we can address very specific points for this and to justify what my response to that was.

Speaker 1:

So I am ready to go. You know I agree with what you're saying. Ray Allen, who sits on the Cancer Alliance board with me and he's also was our chief for a long time in Concord. He always said the three F's of our job are faith, family and the fire department, in that order, and I think he's right on, because if a man doesn't care for his own family, how can he really care for anything else? That's what I've been taught from a long time growing up. So I really agree with what you're saying, and I know there's probably some firefighters that are getting ready to shut this down because they don't have kids, that may not be married. But before you do, hang out for a minute, you might learn something that will help you be able to help the members of your team that do have kids.

Speaker 2:

It doesn't even have to be kids. You don't have to be married, you don't have to have kids. But for any healthier relationship, we can go down that rabbit hole as well. For very specific foundations to have success in any type of relationship, we can hit on that yeah, if you're not married, don't have kids. Please stick with us, because this can still relate to any type of relationship that you might have?

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

I guess, from the way I look at it, I've got a wife and a son and I have always felt that and you've met my wife and my son before.

Speaker 1:

They are typically at conferences when I'm there and stuff like that and I honestly feel like my family is my superpower. I know that seems really weird when I say that, but there have been so many times, particularly early when I started going down the road of the fire service, that I needed support, because it was one of those things where it's okay, I'm not going to be home all day Saturday, all day Sunday, I've got to go do this class. And the understanding that my wife had when I was doing that and then, as my son's gotten older, he understands there's things we have to do for work, and whether it be my wife making me a lunch to go or having coffee for me at 2 am when I've got an investigation to go on, whatever, just the support from my family has made me more effective at what I'm doing, and so I want to start out by saying that never underestimate how important your family is to you being effective at your job.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Taking that support and us being able to recognize that and not take it for granted or expect it or thinking we need to shut them out because of certain things. What that's going to do is create unhealthy conflict between our relationship. I know a lot of times when my mental health was struggling really bad, I took it for granted, did I, didn't share anything with my wife there's a lot of reasons behind that but took it for granted that my wife should be able to understand why I'm in a bad mood or why I can't relate certain things due to a particular situation or whatever else. And just because we live with a significant other, a spouse, our kids, we can't take that for granted and expect them to be able to almost mind read what we have going on at work.

Speaker 1:

And I think you hit upon a very important point. There is what we share with our families. Sometimes the things we see. We honestly need to shield our families from them, whether it be our spouse, significant other not because we don't want them to know what we're doing at work. But sometimes the things we see, the things we experience, the things we have to deal with whether it be from a response standpoint, an investigation standpoint, or even just how the interactions are going with our fire family for lack of a better term or those people that we're working with, sometimes if we get too much in detail on that, it can be overwhelming and almost detrimental to their well-being. So we have to temper what we say. We don't ever want to hide anything from our families, but we definitely need to make sure that we're not laying it out in a way that is harmful to them, especially if we don't have first responder significant others.

Speaker 2:

They don't understand a lot of things that we do in our profession, especially the bad calls that we go to. They may not understand especially if it's a new relationship the hours that we work. If we're going to be gone, do and shift work 24 hours at a time. Some departments now work in 48 hours in a row before they get to go home Doing those 48, 96 is 24, 48 is 24 on 24 off style shifts. Your significant others might not understand that.

Speaker 2:

Just the stress of the profession, you know, emergency response stuff, non-emergency, managerial whatever we have everyday life stressors associated with us when we are on shift, that heightened sense of awareness all the time and maybe we don't have time to decompress or we don't know how to decompress correctly before we get home and then the family takes the brunt of whatever that stress might be Missing holidays, missing birthdays, special occasions, things like that due to a work schedule. Yeah, that can create conflict in a relationship. So the four things that I think are extremely important and if you do any research on it, look it up on the internet, read any books on healthy relationships four main categories that we need to focus on Healthy communication. That is A number one. You have to have a way to effectively communicate in a healthy way with your significant other.

Speaker 2:

Healthy conflict Whenever we think conflict, especially on the job conflict, is never good because things are not going to work out correctly. But if you have healthy communication, we know how we can have healthy conflict at that point and it's not going to create other problems down the road for us Making sure that we still have that emotional connection with our spouse and that spouse still feels emotionally connected with us. And then the physical connection as well. If we don't have those, it doesn't make a difference what our profession is. We're not going to have a healthy relationship. So if we can focus on those and figure out how to make that work with what we're doing, we're going to be successful.

Speaker 1:

I was gonna say I want to take that one step further. I've got a son at home who's 12 and he is super sharp and he can pick up when things aren't quite right, whether it be just how things want to work today, or he's aware of that too, and to an even further extent if there's kids involved in the dynamic. When we talk about our families at home, that is something that has to be given specific attention as well, and kids are real smart. We might seem to think, oh, he doesn't know what's going on. No, they do, and even at a very young age my son has I call it a very high emotional intelligence when it comes to being able to perceive when things are off, even outside of stuff at work. There's been times his dad was wrong and I wouldn't have said anything to him.

Speaker 1:

And you really do have to maintain those relationships and, like you talked about with our spouse, whether it be the hours we work or duties we have to do, that may interfere with other things that we want to do. You have to take that into consideration, and especially with kids, and in the case with Colin, my son, whenever it's time to spend time with him, I try to focus a hundred percent on him and I try not to let the phone interrupt from work, things like that. When I'm at work, I'm at work. When I'm at home, I'm at home, and that's the same with my spouse. As much as possible, you have to focus on where you are at that moment.

Speaker 1:

I've got a friend of mine who mentioned that he went through some really rough calls for a strength for one or two shifts and he said that when he got home he was angry that he wasn't back at work and he said he couldn't explain it. He said he was almost in tears one day when he realized that, wait a minute, I'm missing my time with my daughter, I'm missing my time with my wife, I'm missing my time with my kids. And yeah, we have to be very cognizant of that. And it really is different when you bring a family into it. It's almost like an admin to firehouse with you sometimes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and what you just mentioned about your friend. I hear that a lot. We feel a lot of calls would appear to team and I hear some of those same things. That man, I go home and I'm angry or I have a short fuse and things just set me off and I wish I were back at the firehouse. Because they feel they almost start to feel more comfortable at the firehouse. They feel like they can speak open and freely more and they don't have to have that protective mechanism to try to shield the family from what's going on and, in turn, what that's doing is damaging the relationship.

Speaker 2:

The firehouse, dark humor we use that as a coping mechanism a lot. We relieve our stressors in a different way at the firehouse and what we do at home. And I always tell people, when it comes to opening up and sharing things about work, about the job, whatever it is with your family and with your significant others, is it? They have a right to know. You know, yes, we can try to protect them to a certain extent, but they have a right to know because they have equal buy-in, just like I do, into this relationship. And so I always tell people you have two versions that you can share with your family. You can tell them the Disney version or you can tell them the Quentin Tarantino version and you find that middle ground of where it's going to work A significant other that is not in the profession.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're going to be a little more soft, as where my situation my wife being retired, 20-something years in the profession, over 25 years on the job, I could be able to go home and tell my wife the absolute worst call I've ever been on to detail, and she's going to be able to understand that somebody that doesn't see what we see doesn't do what we do. You can't tell them those things, not to that extent. They're going to look at you like you got a second head grown out of your shoulder and you might scare them a little bit. The same thing with your kids and your children. We've got to bring it down to a level that they understand without actually scaring them about what we do. Hey, you know dad had a rough shift. It wasn't a good day and I'm not feeling okay today.

Speaker 1:

You've met my dad before. In fact, he's our most popular episode. He was with the Rescue Squad ambulance service. My mom was a nurse forever and when I was growing up, conversations at dinner got really interesting really quick, because there was no thought given to how you talked about eyeballs falling out and guess what kind of wound I saw. That wasn't necessarily unheard of, but we really do have to temper that sometimes and, like you mentioned, especially if you're in a new relationship, newly married. Yeah, you got to be careful about that. You got to ease them in. I've been married now for almost 20 years and my wife is a lot more accustomed to what things go wrong. Go with this career and that really comes into play. But you don't want to scare them off too early. Eric, when we start talking about our families and how they can be sometimes collateral damage from what we experience at work, we really talk about health and wellness. Here we talk about the importance of mental health. Can our family's mental health be affected by the stuff that we deal with?

Speaker 2:

Oh, absolutely yeah. Anytime that you see anybody, whether it's on the job or in the family, whenever we see people struggle, we have that empathetic side that we're very caring people, and you mentioned the collateral damage aspect of it. Your significant other hopefully feels the same way, that they will be able to pick up, just like you mentioned, colin, picking up on certain things hey dad, what's going on, what's wrong? Your family we can try to put that mask on and we can try to shield them. We can try to protect them. We can try to block them out in where they don't see what's happening. But they know, you know they might not say anything, but they're picking up on on little things. They're picking up on behavior changes. They're picking up on mood swings, pattern behaviors, things like that, the way that you carry yourself, your body language, the tone of voice, things like that. They go a long way.

Speaker 2:

We don't realize that sometimes, and so it can affect the family, it can affect our loved ones, and we need to be able to have that, that healthy communication again. How are we going to implement that? And especially on the spouse side of it, that the first responder, nine out of 10 times, is not going to be the one to bring it up. They're not going to be the ones to bring it up. The family is catching all the flak or picking up on these signs, and they can't be afraid to open up a conversation. We've talked before about the difficult conversations with leadership. It's no different on the family aspect of it. Travis, I have noticed this and I just want to make sure that you're okay and I want you to let you know. You don't have to try to protect me. Let me know what is going on so I can maybe try to help you. Even though, as simple as that might sound, that is very difficult sometime, but that's what needs to be yeah, and that's one thing that I've told my family from the get go.

Speaker 1:

If I start acting weird, let me know. If something seems off, let me know because I need help. But let's spin the table around. What are some signs that we need to look for in our families that may indicate that they might be struggling with something, or what we're bringing home and unaware of it? What are some of the things that we might need to look for in our family that show that they might be being impacted by our work?

Speaker 2:

Same things that they might be seeing in us. We might see some behavior changes. We might see them shine away from maybe trying to have a conversation with us. We might see their reaction to certain things that are taking place be out of the ordinary, from usual. We might see where there's unhealthy conflict being brought into the relationship because we don't have healthy communication, where something that in the past might not have sparked a disagreement or an argument now it does Small little things that escalate very quickly into larger shutting down, isolating. We do the same thing as the first responder. The family might do the same thing, because they don't know how to respond. They don't know how to react. They might be scared of a reaction that we maybe have due to a question. That's, the last thing that we want is to Is our family to start shutting down because of us? But those are things that we need to be paying attention to as well. So, yeah, hopefully that answer the question.

Speaker 1:

No, it does.

Speaker 1:

And just like I said, to take that a step further, this is not scientifically proven, but this is just my experiences being a dad for the last almost 13 years.

Speaker 1:

I've noticed, with kids in particular, when things bother them, it sometimes translates into a physical manifestation. Maybe they're worried about a rash they've got. It may become health focused it the stress that they feel often manifest differently than how it does from adults, and I've seen not necessarily my son, but other friends that have kids they may have a different, different way they're acting out the normal. So anytime you see a disruption in kids cycles because they tend to be very routine that is something that you need to pay attention to and that and that's just purely for me being a dad and seeing that and talking to other dads that They'll see changes in their kids are like wait a minute, why is he not being happy playing with whatever toys that has always caught his interest, while of a sudden you see, you know, worried more about why his belly's hurting or whatever it can be any number of things. Definitely being vigilant as to changes in your family's behavior and dynamic is massively important.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

And Eric. I mentioned before that my family is my superpower in a lot of ways. They help me to do a lot more than Travis can do on his own and they're they travel with me when it's time to go to a conference or teach a class out of town. Anytime I come down for you guys are down there to coast they're typically there with me. It's a vacation for them, a chance to get away, whatever the case is. But at the same time, they understand what I do, what and I try to include especially my son.

Speaker 1:

I try to include him a lot in explain. Hey, dad's got to go to training for the and when I was going through my classes when I first got into this, it was very rough for me physically and things like that. I tried to explain to my wife. All right, today we're doing host streams, we're working with hoses. Today, in fact, when I was actually working with that, we actually had an opportunity for our families to come out and watch us train and that was cool because it helped them get an understanding of what we do. So being totally transparent on that, I think, helps deal with a lot of this. They we know that there's a mental aspect they may have to deal with of it, but when they understand what we're facing, that goes a long way. But what other strategies can we use to help our families understand what we do? How can we help them deal with what they have to on the support side of our lives?

Speaker 2:

Who. I've a couple things come to mind. First, that open communication. We have to have that communication loop and we need to let them know that not every day is going to be a good day on the job. So if I do have a bad attitude or you're noticing certain things about me, please let me know, call me out on that. So the healthy communication and also letting them know that the job's not all rainbows and unicorns, that's the big thing. It is not going to be a good day every single day that we go to the firehouse and then when we come home and that comes down to the communication aspect again, having some sort of support system, some sort of education for families and for spouses, I think is critical and I'd like to see that be more involved in the fire service, in emergency services, just like you said, bringing the families in for that hoses and appliances, so when we talk about fighting fire or whatever now they have, they can put a visual to it. On the mental health side of things, the same way, incorporating bringing the spouses in, maybe for a family day during a fire academy or something like that, bringing them in and talking with them about the mental health and things that they might be able to pick up on and recognize when their spouse isn't Quote unquote normal when they come home from a 24 hour shift, and how we address that. There again, healthy communication, asking questions, not being afraid to ask questions and I always throw the analogy in there of anybody that's heard me speak before. I always bring up the story of I didn't know there was a wrong way to load a dishwasher and I I was a soft target for my wife one day when she came home from work and it was really nothing that I had done wrong, but In argument was created over a dishwasher. And was it truly the dishwasher? Note wasn't, it was spillover from work and we did not communicate that.

Speaker 2:

Other things that we can do finding support systems. There's groups out there, ladies auxiliaries at the fire department, especially on the volunteer side of the fire service. Just about every fire department has a ladies auxiliary or has had one at some point, where it's made up primarily of wives of the firemen there. It gets them involved in the fire department. They get to interact, to get to see things, which is pretty, pretty significant at that point. It keeps them involved so they might understand the long hours that were away from home, things along those lines. Other kinds of support systems, fire wives in quotations, fire wives, those types of groups where it's significant, others that have people that they can fall back on, have people that they can fall back on, they can use to support them when they're going through a difficult time with their spouse. Maybe they just have questions that they don't really understand and they can go ask other wives Of firemen. And, hey, I've recognized this, my spouse, if you've gone through this before, yeah, actually I have Marriage counseling.

Speaker 2:

If it comes down to it, I'm not afraid to say that my wife and I had to utilize marriage counseling at one point because we did not have some of those things that we mentioned earlier the healthy communication, healthy conflict, feeling emotionally and physically connected with each other and it wasn't because it was Deb and I. It said, it was Job spillover and we had no idea how to handle it correctly or in a healthy manner. So, if it comes down to that, finding a peer team, we have a family support services side To our peer team set up specifically for that, where, hey, even the wives they can call us. You can get us in, you, if you're the one calling us Travis and you're saying whatever is going on at home, I'm going to suggest, hey, have your wife, give us a call, I'll get her connected with my wife. My wife's got firsthand lived experience good, bads and uglies of everything we went through. Nothing better for your wife to relate to right there than somebody that has been through the same situation.

Speaker 1:

That's something that's key and even like on the cancer side of it. You remember when we talked to Matt Sellers a while, a good while back, he was talking about how important the support from his wife was during his recovery after he had his cancer diagnosis. It doesn't just have to be the stress at work. It can be a physical malady that we're facing that can actually drive that, and I think it's key that you have that support structure in place and for a lot of people it is the auxiliaries and the things like that. But I also know in our case our faith plays in and we have a lot of support and my wife has some just awesome ladies that back her up, that are friends, and I'm the same way and I'm blessed to have that. And I think it's important that we have those things in place before the crash and be ready to go when something does happen, Because at some point your family will be affected by what you do. I don't think there's any way around that.

Speaker 2:

There is not, and you're 100% correct with that being proactive instead of reactive, because it might get to a point on the reactive side where we can't reconcile that or we can't repair the damage that has been done. So being very proactive with it is there's nothing wrong with it being that preventative maintenance, so to speak. Always throw the analogy out there. We don't wait for the oil light to come on in our vehicle before we have it serviced, that engine light, whatever else. Same thing with our family and our spouses. We need to constantly be working on that and maintaining a certain level and trying to make it better every single day and that way, when things do go sideways, we've built that up and almost like a resiliency program and we're going to be able to handle that stuff in a healthy manner instead of it having a detrimental impact on the family and the relationship.

Speaker 1:

And one of the things that has worked for my family and this is what I believe in and you'll never take this belief out of me. When you walk away from the fire department, when you walk away from work, bye, I'm out of here. When it's time to go home, Don't take work home with you, if you can help it. When you go on vacation, you need to unplug. Basically, you need to give your attention to your family, your attention to what's happening in the moment. Be mindful I was paying attention during our last interview with Michael Canceleri Be mindful of where you are and what you're doing, and you have to take that time to unplug and totally be away from work and be away from those stressors and spend your time with your family to heal and work through and, if nothing else, just have fun while you're camping or whatever to make it work.

Speaker 2:

And what works for Travis might not work for Eric. So if that means if you live 10 minutes away from work but you need to decompress and you need to get yourself in a mindset to be able to go home and be OK at home, and that's going to take you 30 or 40 minutes extra, it's going to be worth every minute of it when you get back to the house. So find something that's going to work for you. I had a very hard time separating myself from the fire department when I was on shift. I lived it, I breathed it, I ate it and I self-identified as a job.

Speaker 2:

What you mentioned of leaving work. At work, you can't ever lose track of who you are and I had. I lost all track of that. I was a husband, that I was a provider and, contrary to who you talk to, I'm a genuine kind-hearted individual. And I lost all track of that because I thought everything revolved around the firehouse, everything was the fire department, everything was work and if I wasn't focusing on that all the time, I don't know. I don't know who I was. I self-identified for so long and it took some very deep, dark, scary points in my life, and almost cost me my marriage to realize that, wow, there does need to be a significant disconnect when I'm not at the firehouse. So don't ever lose track of who you are, who your family is, what your faith is, and put 100% effort into that, just like you do every single day that you go to the job, but do it on the home front as well.

Speaker 1:

There's a Bible scripture that I think about and it says the paraphrase when there's no confidential talk, there is no success. So if you don't have that communication, if you don't have a regular conversation with your significant other, if you don't have that communication with your kids, you're just going to suffer. I think that seems to be what we're taking away from our conversation today. Be transparent, but you might can only be so transparent because you don't want to damage them with, maybe, what you're carrying, but at the same time, get help if you need it. Cancer Alliance, you guys, first responder, peer support network that's what we do. We're here to help out, whether it be a health related issue, whether it be a mental health related issue. We understand. And if you're listening and you're not in North Carolina, don't worry, there's somebody near you that can help. But at the end of the day, take care of your family, because you need them. They make you powerful.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to throw two simple questions out there for anybody that's listening to us, that's on the job, or a spouse that's listening. If you do have a spouse, I would highly recommend that you share this episode with your spouse, bring them in and listen to it together, because you might be able to pick some things up from this. But two very simple questions and this is not rocket science, travis Coming home, especially on the spousal side of things, even if you are the first responder and your spouse is coming home from a business job or whatever else, it doesn't make a difference, it works both directions. Two very simple questions that you can ask to try to minimize any type of unhealthy conflict. First one how was your day? How hard is that question, travis?

Speaker 1:

Very simple, In fact. I asked that. My wife asked that of me regularly when I come in hey, how was your day?

Speaker 2:

That's great. In nine out of 10 times it's going to be some of the same answers it was good, it was OK, it was fine, whatever, whether that's factual or not, be open and honest. If they're asking the question Hopefully that's your spouse is asking it for a specific reason, because they genuinely care. So if you didn't have a good day, let them know that Healthy, open communication. And the second question should always be Would you like to talk about it? And that opens up the doors.

Speaker 2:

Now, that opens up the doors for that communication and it also sets the other person up that if the answer to the first question Was it was a crappy day, yeah, it wasn't a good day and no, I don't want to talk about it. If I'm the one that asked those questions now, I'm set up for the rest of the day of Okay, travis had a bad day. He doesn't want to talk about it. If there's a short, snippy answer or I start to notice a behavior change or something else that's out of the ordinary, I'm not going to take that personal. I'm going to understand that you don't want to talk about what your bad day was and what I'm noticing is probably related to that and not our relationship in general.

Speaker 1:

Yep, that does a good point and there's a good takeaway, and you brought up a good point Get your families to listen to the episode. Hey, we are family friendly, we we try to keep it as family friendly as we can and there's a reason we do that, so that if you want to share this with somebody you love, no problem. And I'm sure there'll be more conversations coming down the pipe about how we interact with our families and kids and things like that. Anyway, eric, that was something that was on my mind, but that does bring up another question. Do you know how the biologist impressed his girlfriend With his designer jeans?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I heard it the first time. You didn't have to repeat it I.

Speaker 1:

Had dramatic pause and then I went for a repetition for emphasis. There you go, brother. Hey, so I just wanted to tell you thank you for your time today, and we are Slowly climbing up. People are listening. Please share it if you like what you're hearing, tell somebody, but until next time, I'm Travis and you are Eric. That was another dramatic pause. Yes all right, eric, it's good to talk. My friend will holler at you later and you do brother enjoy and light to fire with him.

Speaker 1:

You have been listening to Paul clear. All clear is presented by the North Carolina firefighter cancer alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGathey and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, all clear podcast calm, where you can contact us and leave feedback if you like what you hear, please share this podcast with someone. The opinions of guests do not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded with these script and with technology that is provided by Cortek computers. We'll see you soon. It is always light your fire with it.

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