By Rachelle Zemlok & Alma Garcia

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Dr. Rachelle is married to a firefighter and Dr. Alma is married to a police officer, they are both child and family psychologists, and here to discuss relatable and important information relevant to navigating your first responder marriage, parenting, and wellness. This is a podcast for first responder spouses by first responder spouses, and they discuss the research and realities related to the first responder family life while also sharing their own stories of navigating this lifestyle.

Episode Date
How Hard it Can be to Get Away Just the Two of You- E50

In the first responder family life, scheduling can be such a challenge. It's hard to find time to do every day things not to mention time away together for your marriage. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss how they find the time with their spouse and challenges that always seem to get in the way. 

Nov 29, 2021
Why Our Days Without Them Are Also Impacted By The Job- E49

It's never out of sight out of mind over here in first responder marriages. Even when they are gone the plans we make with family, friends, and even the meals we prepare, seem to all have to take their schedule into consideration. We keep them at the front of our minds. This is sweet! Until t turns into feelings of rejection, or hurt, or resentment. Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the simple things spouses do in their everyday lives that can have big impacts on their feelings and relationships. 

Nov 13, 2021
Why is My First Responder Getting Hit So Hard Right Now?- E48

Too many spouses are feeling the extra weight of the first responder profession right now and feeling alone with it. If you're feeling exhausted by the constant mandatory overtimes and new demands of the department... you're not alone. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss all that's gong on for so many first responder families right now and know that you're not alone. First responders are getting hit hard and that means we as a family FEEL it. 

Oct 26, 2021
Why Life Shouldn't Stop Just Because They Are At Work- E47

As a First Responder spouse we often go in and out of survival mode depending on whether we are single parenting or co-parenting.  This may cause us to actually adopt two different parenting styles or ways to run the household. It can often feel like our life pauses a moment and then they return and we're back. The transition in and out of this is a challenge for the whole family. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) do some deep reflecting on all the challenges this may pose for first responder families and how it plays out in their own. 

Oct 11, 2021
What Does It Mean To Be A "Good" First Responder Spouse? -E46

As a first responder spouse you may or may not feel pressure to be "one of the good ones." What does that actually mean? Or what should it mean? Have you ever felt the need to hold in your own emotions about how things are going simply because you know how emotionally taxing their career is? In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the potential experiences spouses may have around these topics and what that might look like in a marriage. Added bonus, Dr. Rachelle discusses her "marriage contact." 

Sep 20, 2021
Committing To What Your "Shift" Looks Like As A First Responder Spouse- E45

When you are the spouse of a first responder you take on a lot of additional responsibilities at home. It can be hard to accept this reality since it wasn't your career choice. However, it can be very helpful to mentally commit to your own "shift" in order to survive. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss committing to the "shift," why it is not helpful to compare who's "shift" is more challenging between you and your first responder, and why this topic may come up in the first place. 

Sep 06, 2021
Why It's Still Hard To Be A Spouse... Even Though You "Knew What To Expect" -E44

Has your first responder ever said, "You knew this was part of the job..." as though this shouldn't be an issue. And maybe you did... so why is it that you are still having a hard time with the challenges that arise? Because it's HARD!! Just because you may have known what was in store for your future with your first responder's job, does not make the challenges more manageable. In this episode Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss some of the reasons why "knowing" what's in store does not change how well you adjust to the significant challenges that you need to overcome being married to a first responder. 

Aug 30, 2021
The Role You Play in Your Child’s Anxiety- E43

We have said it before, first responder kids are more likely to be anxious and worried. The career and you as parents, may play a role in this. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss a framework of anxiety in kids that specifically addresses your role as the parent. They go over what you may be doing based on the first responder career demands and what you can do differently to help your kids better manage their worries. 

Aug 23, 2021
What Is Your First Responder Thinking When You Text About The Chaos At Home?- E42

Like most first responder spouses you might be guilty of sending those long texts about all the chaos that is happening at home while they are on shift. How the tree fell over, the dog went crazy, the kids are out of control... and the list goes on. Do you know what your first responder is thinking when you text that? Do the two of you discuss the most helpful way to respond to one another about that stuff so you feel less alone with it? In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss what they notice in couples and their own relationships and give you some topics to discuss with your own spouse about this. 

Aug 02, 2021
What Are Your Boundaries Around Scanners and Pulse Point?- E41

First Responder families are usually pretty familiar with the the apps that can be used for 24 hour access to 911 calls associated with the department your first responder spouse works for. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss boundaries around these and the many uses, and misuses, that can come from using scanners and pulse point at home. 

Jul 19, 2021
How Parenting Styles In First Responder Homes Impact Our Kids- E40

How would your spouse describe your parenting style? It can be common to hear that first responders have a "short fuse" when it comes to addressing their children. I've also heard of first responders feeling their spouse is too lenient with the kids and feel negative behaviors from their children are the result of that. Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss what research tells us about parenting styles, how they impact your kids, and how these can commonly show up in first responder homes.  

Jul 11, 2021
What First Responder Spouses With Young Families Need to Hear- E39

Household and family responsibilities multiply when you have kids. Unfortunately, as a first responder spouse, a lot of these responsibilities can fall on you when your partner works long shifts, odd hours, and is mandatoried in to work for even more hours. When your kids are little this can feel extremely overwhelming and lonely. Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss some of their young families' recent challenges and the knowledge they have taken from spouses that have survived it all. 

Jul 05, 2021
Why You Should Share The Household Responsibilities With Your First Responder- E38

Going from single parenting to double parenting has its challenges. As the non first responder spouse you can find yourself handing less and less things off since household responsibilities often default to you. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss how they split responsibilities with their spouses even when they are home and can be helping... and reassure you that changing it up will NOT ruin your kids.  

Jun 28, 2021
Do We Resent The First Responder Career Or Something Else?- E37

In this Episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) catch up on the chaos of recent vacations with new families of 4 as well as reflect on challenges of the first responder family and whether or not they resent the career or all the ways life could be more simple. 

Jun 21, 2021
What Are Your First Responder's Boundaries on Bringing Work Home?- E36

The first responder career can really be all consuming. Everything going on at work is an emergency calling for the first responder’s attention. It can consume their identity, the stories they tell, and the lens they hold. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss some thoughts around boundary setting at home when it comes to things like emails and stories from work. 

Jun 07, 2021
All The Things We Hold On To As A First Responder Spouse... Beyond Half Of Their Pension- E35

Referring to their pension is of course a joke we couldn't resist... but REALLY as a first responder spouse we find ourselves carrying so much! We hold so many things regarding family schedules and planning as well as emotionally worrying about the dangers our spouses face daily. We often don't even say these things out loud, we just recharge and move forward. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss what a particularly hard week it has been for both of them managing the family while their husband's have been at work and reflect on all the things they hold on to while they navigate this life. 

May 24, 2021
Why First Responder Families DO NOT Live a Normal Life- E34

It's true that when you're living in the first responder life it becomes your "normal," but it's important to take a step back sometimes to recognize a lot of what we adjust to is NOT normal or a part of the average experience. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss some of the real challenges they adjust to as a first responder spouse and that they watch their children adjust to that can too easily be seen as normal. 

May 17, 2021
Why You Should Actually Plan For Your Needs and Fire Season- E33

As a first responder spouse we are often left to plan for everything and everyone else, but setting goals and being intentional about what you need and want is so important. This can be especially true when it comes to preparing for the challenges that come along with Fire Season. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Alma (Police Wife) share personal stories around their own successes and challenges with meeting fitness goals. They also discuss how you can be intentional and plan for success with the upcoming fire season. 

May 10, 2021
Why Taking Care Of Your Own Needs Will Make You A More Supportive First Responder Spouse- E32

As a First Responder spouse you have so many other people and needs to take care of ALL THE TIME. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss some of their own experiences taking care of ALL the THINGS... and how they are able to just that without feeling resentful. SPOILER: It includes taking care of YOU too! 

May 04, 2021
The Experience Of A Police Spouse In Current Times- E31

Tensions and judgements about policing continue to increase. People are posting about their opinions on the matter all around us... but where does that leave our proud police families? In this Episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the challenges that police families are facing navigating this all and how hard it can actually be to avoid taking the comments personally.

Apr 26, 2021
How We Take On Our First Responder's Fears From The Job- E30

First Responders are called to show up on people's worst day. They see the many daily tragedies and nightmares people experience and it's hard not to want to protect their own family from those. In this episode Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) talk about how they naturally start to take on the fears that their husbands bring home from the job and just how easily that can happen for a spouse and family member. 

Apr 19, 2021
Rachelle's HeroTalk Interview with Rodger Ruge, Ret. LEO- E29

This week we want to share Rachelle's interview with Rodger Ruge, retired law enforcement officer. This was originally featured on his podcast "HeroTalk" which is a podcast aimed at building resilience in first responders.  We recommend you check out the episode and share with your first responder spouse. We also recommend you go check out HeroTalk for some more information on first responder resilience and PTSD. 

Apr 12, 2021
How To Build A Relationship With Your First Responder Teen- E28

Parenting a teen is a challenge! In this episode Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the challenges in parenting teens that are growing up in first responder households and give you some ideas on how to best connect with them. 

Apr 05, 2021
How You Can Support Your First Responder When Things Don’t Go Their Way- E27

The career is often more like a calling than a job to them which is why a first responder’s identity can be all wrapped up in the work they do. This can make it especially hard for them when things don’t go their way... a failed academy, passed up for promotion, a failed test, a mistake on the job. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the challenges that come in devastating moments like these and how the spouse can offer support during these times. 

Mar 29, 2021
How A First Responder Spouse Can Feel Alone And What You Can Do- E26

As a first responder spouse you can feel alone... often. Not just physically due to the shift, but things can feel emotionally lonely as well. In this episode Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Alma (Police Wife) discuss the many ways spouses experience loneliness and what you can do with that. 

Mar 22, 2021
Why a First Responder Spouse Can Feel Under Appreciated- E25

First Responders spouses wear so many hats! They very often have to be the protecter, disciplinarian, the nurturer, the schedule manager, the flexible spouse, and the foundation that the rest of the family relies upon... all at once and without a handbook.  When all of that is overlooked because it's what everyday looks like that can start to wear on motivation to do it all. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss the experience of a first responder spouse and how some dynamics might lead to stressors on our marriages and spouses feeling under appreciated. 

Mar 15, 2021
What's It Like To Be A First Responder Spouse Holding It All Together?- E24

In this episode Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) are talking about what it's like to be the spouse of a first responder. Specifically, all the challenges that come along with being placed in a position to be on your own, responsible for managing it ALL, for a large portion of the time. 

Mar 08, 2021
Helping Your First Responder Kid Manage the Challenges- E23

Our first responder kids live in a totally different world than many of their friends. One where their weekly family schedule is in a constant state of change and things can rarely be guaranteed. Holidays might look different each year. Their first responder parent often misses out on some of the big moments and goes off to work every day to potential life threatening situations. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss how to build resiliency in your first responder kids from the beginning and how that may take shape over time. 

Mar 01, 2021
Building Trust and How The First Responder Career Gets In Our Way- E22

The first responder career can make finding and building trust in your marriage a challenge. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss the many aspects of the career that can get in the way of building trust if it has been lost or managing it when there is a lack of it in general. They also discuss ways you can build trust as a couple overtime. 

Feb 22, 2021
Intimacy and Romance With Your First Responder- E21

The first responder career can add additional stressors to your life that can really get in the way of and decrease the romance and intimacy within your relationship. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss the many daily challenges that can get in the way of intimacy within first responder marriages and discuss ways to try and overcome them. 

Feb 15, 2021
Finding Security Within Your First Responder Marriage- E20

So many aspects of the career put first responder marriages to the test. In this episode, Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) and Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) discuss some of the great challenges experienced within first responder marriages and how to manage them. This episode specifically focuses on a couple of those challenges that might bring out trust and security issues.

Feb 08, 2021
The Overwhelming Responsibilities Of A First Responder Spouse- E19

In this episode you get an insider view of the harsh realities of being a first responder spouse and what a first responder can do to better understand and support their spouse. As a first responder family, you have that unique experience of odd hours, forced overtime, and unexpected call outs and deployments... Though these are assigned to the first responder, each one of them significantly increases the load of home responsibilities that the first responder spouse has to manage, often times without warning. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss Rachelle's exhausting week as her husband returns to work after paternity leave and immediately gets deployed leaving her to manage it ALL. 

Feb 01, 2021
Anxiety: How It Shows Up And What You Can Do - E18

Anxiety is the most common mental health diagnosis in the U.S and pretty prevalent in first responder families. Not only do first responders walk into risky situations every shift, but first responder families are exposed to more concerning events than the average person. In this episode, Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss how to identify anxiety, how it shows up in first responder families, and what you can start doing today to better manage your worries so they don't turn into anxiety. 

Jan 25, 2021
How Do I Convince My First Responder Spouse To Get Help?- E17

The most common questions spouses ask all revolve around how they can successfully talk to their first responder spouse about getting help or going to therapy. Often the spouse feels it could be very beneficial based on what changes they see, but they feel lost with how to talk with or convince their first responder spouse of that knowing they are not very open or trusting of mental health. Dr. Rachelle (fire spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police spouse) speak from their professional roles as therapists in how to best address this question. Also in this episode, Dr. Rachelle's baby girl has arrived! She makes her first debut on this podcast at just 3 weeks old. Dr. Rachelle also talks about the challenges that her husband's captain promotion brought to pre and postpartum life. 

Jan 18, 2021
How To Argue Effectively With Your Spouse- E16

Disagreements and arguments are going to happen within every marriage. We don't want to avoid them, we want to resolve them effectively. Sometimes we get stuck in our own negative patterns of communication. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (Fire Wife) and Dr. Alma (Police Wife) discuss the what communication patterns are proven to lead to divorce by the famous relationship expert, Dr. Gottman. They also discuss how a first responder's job can impact some of the communication patterns you may observe at home.  

Dec 21, 2020
How To Handle Behavior Problems in First Responder Kids- E15

There are so many ways to address behavior problems in kids. As child and family psychologists Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police spouse) work with hundreds of parents to do just that. Listen in as they discuss their psychological perspective on working with families to address behaviors in kids. In addition, they reflect on how having a first responder parent in the home can at times complicate addressing these behaviors.

Dec 14, 2020
The Downside To Our First Responder's Loyalty- E14

Loyalty, dedication, passion, and being a team player are some of the characteristics that make our first responder's great at what they do! In this episode Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss how these respected characteristics can also be the ones that lead to a first responder's strong sense of obligation to the work which may have downsides such as poor boundaries, a lack of self care, and why they might also choose overtime over family time. 

Dec 07, 2020
Why First Responder Kids Have Big Worries- E13

In our clinical work, we notice that kids from first responder families tend to have more big worries and lean towards being more anxious than the average kid. Listen to Dr. Rachelle (fire wife) and Dr. Alma (police wife) as they talk about their experience working as psychologists with first responder kids and their thoughts about where their anxiety may stem from. 

Nov 30, 2020
The Lifetime Impacts Of Wonderful Overtime- E12

As a first responder spouse I'm sure you're no stranger to your first responder spouse working overtime. In this career it can often times be out of the first responder’s control. However, there are also many times overtime is a choice. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (fire wife) and Dr. Alma (police wife) discuss the benefits of overtime and also the significant costs we may not always be considering when it is a choice. 

Nov 23, 2020
Is Your First Responder Ever Really Off Duty?- E11

As a first responder spouse you think they are off work, yet in a split second when someone needs help they are immediately "ON" in helper mode. We all have stories of the many times being the helper has taken over our moment as a family. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (fire spouse) and Dr. Alma (police spouse) share what it's like for them being the non-first responder spouse when their husbands suddenly go into first responder mode while off duty. 

Nov 16, 2020
The Many "Opportunities" To Be Alone As A Spouse- E10

Dr. Alma shares big news! As a first responder spouse we have MANY opportunities to be alone managing social events, family responsibilities, holidays, sleep... and the list goes on. Adapting to this can be different for every spouse. Dr. Rachelle (fire spouse) and Dr. Alma (police spouse) talk about the challenges they have experienced along the way adapting to the lifestyle that encourages so much independence. They discuss how they manage being alone now and what you can do as a spouse to make those times more manageable. 

Nov 09, 2020
How To Take Care Of Yourself- E9

As a first responder spouse you deal with many additional stressors in daily life. You often take on a majority of the family responsibilities and many times need to parent and manage things on your own. For your family's sake, please care for yourself first. Usually that's easier said than done. Join Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (police spouse) as they discuss self care for first responder spouses and share their own challenges with managing it all.

Nov 02, 2020
When First Responders Bring The Job Home- E8

Dr. Rachelle (fire spouse) shares her early pregnancy experience and big news with Dr. Alma (Police spouse). As a first responder spouse it can often be hard to know what's really going on at work for your first responder. Listen in as we discuss from the psychological perspective why first responders may often not be talking about the job and ways you as a couple can work on this! 

Oct 26, 2020
The Silence of a Proud Spouse- E7

Because the first responder career often lacks flexibility, as the spouse we may be left with feelings we have to manage, challenges we have to navigate, and new ways of doing things we have to accept. Listen in as Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) and Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) discuss how silenced a spouse may feel, especially in current times.   

Oct 19, 2020
A Spouse's Experience of First Responder Culture- E6

Whether we are an actual employee of the department or not, first responder culture impacts a lot of the conversations we have with our spouse and the decisions that are made regarding work etc. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss what they have learned about first responder culture over the years and how they play into it as wives. 

Oct 12, 2020
Managing Feelings In The World Of A First Responder Spouse- E5

With so many things to throw us off... quarantine, protests, air quality, fire season, distance learning, and forced overtime left and right... we are left to manage our own feelings as a first responder spouse and roll with the punches. Listen in as Dr. Rachelle (Fire Spouse) and Dr. Alma (Police Spouse) discuss how they are managing the disappointment of broken plans and their kid's feelings. 

Oct 05, 2020
Growing A Happy Family With A First Responder- E4

Pregnancy and raising children with a first responder can bring on unexpected twists others may not experience. Listen in on fire wife and police wife Dr. Rachelle and Dr. Alma while they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of growing a family with their first responders.

Sep 05, 2020
Surviving The Painful Protests- E3

This episode was recorded during protests of 2020. Such a challenging time as a police spouse and family member to demonstrate that you can be both supportive of your police officer and anti-racist. Listen in to Dr. Alma (Police Wife) and Dr. Rachelle (Police Sister) as they share their experience of this challenging time. 

Sep 05, 2020
Confessions Of A First Responder Marriage- E2

We often have a vision of what marriage might be like, yet we don't often imagine the unique ins and outs of a first responder marriage in that vision. Listen in on Dr. Rachelle (fire wife) and Dr. Alma (police wife) as they describe the unexpected realities of what it was like to marry a first responder. 

Sep 05, 2020
Falling In Love With A First Responder- E1

As a first responder spouse we take a vow at the beginning of our relationship that many of us are completely unaware of. We fall in love with our police officers and firefighters with ignorance into the challenges that await us in marriage. Listen in to hear the beginning of how Dr. Rachelle and Dr. Alma met and kicked off their first responder marriages and all the information they did and did not know about what was to come. 

Sep 05, 2020
Introduction to Dr. Rachelle & Dr. Alma

Meet first responder spouses, licensed psychologists in California, and hosts Rachelle Zemlok & Alma Garcia and how they came to meet. Learn about their connection to the first responder world, their clinical work, and what led them to do this podcast! 

Sep 05, 2020