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Have you ever heard the saying, “a mouth like a sailor”?
Well, I’m here to tell you that the saying should be updated to “mouth like a firefighter”.
Our nation’s first responders are hardworking heroes. They work long shifts and often see humanity at it’s most vulnerable. They are quick on their feet and the first ones to arrive in someone’s time of need. They are professionals on the job, dressed in their uniform, trained to help in crisis and efficient wherever they are needed.
But my husband recently let me in on a little secret: back at the station, all “hero/professional” vibes are off. Men who acted professional on scene are now able to relax, and the “locker room banter” is often free to flow. Since the firehouse is not a typical professional work environment, the firemen are able to relax, put their feet up, and speak uninhibited. From replaying work scenes, cussing every other word and speaking inappropriately about women (both in their lives and outside of it), the firehouse can quickly resemble a ship on the high seas, full of cussing sailors.
Several months ago, our nation bristled at the news of Donald Trump speaking inappropriately about women and then brushing it off as “locker room banter”. Regardless of your personal politics, we can agree that this sparked a conversation.
When my husband heard that news story his first comment was surprise that everyone was reacting so adversely to Trump in that situation. Of course, he was aghast that Trump would speak like this, but he knows from firsthand experience that this “locker room banter” is actually very common on the job in some professions.
As Christians, my husband and I have had many conversations about how he should approach this environment.
Should he leave the room?
He would literally spend the entire time at the station by himself in his bunk if he chose to do that.
Should he speak up and ask everyone to stop talking like that?
While this seems like the best option, it would probably ostracize him from the brotherhood.
Or should he stay quiet and ignore the inappropriate conversations going on around him?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t approach the topic of how inappropriate these conversations are.
It’s a sticky situation and one that we have agreed needs to be dealt with depending on the situation.
While this situation clearly needs to be dealt with on the front lines (at the firehouse) by our husbands, there are several ways that we as wives can encourage our husbands as they head to work in an environment of “locker room talk”.
Ladies, even if your husband is not working at a firehouse, I would encourage you to employ these strategies as they head off to work!
5 Ways To End Locker Room Talk At Home
Ladies, we MUST cover our husbands in prayer. Not only are they often seeing the worst side of humanity on the job, they are also rubbing shoulders with others who often don’t know Christ or have the same standards as we do. We need to blanket our husband in prayers for protection, not just from the physical dangers of the job, but the spiritual ones as well. We need to pray that they will keep their standards high and that they will be able to be Christ to those in their work environment who don’t know Him.
Have a conversation.
A few days into his job as first responder, my husband realized that he could not share the stories of all he was seeing and hearing with me. He wisely chooses what stories to share with me, and will often leave out gruesome or disturbing details. Even with this agreement in place, it is still important for me to engage my husband in conversation about what happens at work. This serves not only as a form of accountability for my husband, but also a chance for him to decompress when he comes home.
As I mentioned above, we have struggled to know when he should engage in conversation or leave the conversation. There is no right or wrong answer, but we must always be encouraging our husbands to be salt and light wherever they are. We need to encourage them to share their faith, and to not be afraid of speaking out. There is no need to nag, in fact that is not helpful at all. Instead, we need to simply be the voice of encouragement reminding them what they already know. Sometimes all they may need to hear is the voice of someone they love telling them that they are doing an excellent job- both within their job and with the people at their job.
Praising our husbands can go so far, no matter what the topic is. I find that if I praise my husband for speaking up or not engaging in the inappropriate conversations, he is much more likely to face the next similar situation with confidence. Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to praise our husbands because so frequently we can see everything that they are NOT doing. I have recently decided to challenge myself to pick one thing every day to audibly praise him for. Trust me…this goes a LONG way!
Shout him out as a leader.
Not all our husbands are outgoing, natural leaders. And that’s okay. That does not mean that they are not leaders.
Quite often the quiet ones can command a room with much more respect than those who are the life of the party. If your husband is a natural leader, encourage him to use that to drive others to Christ and to clear up any inappropriate scenarios happening at the firehouse .But even if your husband isn’t a natural leader, encourage him to lead by example and to not be afraid to speak up and speak out.
Ladies, how do you encourage your husbands to be the light in an inappropriate environment? Have you encountered some of the same issues that we have?