Your First Responder Marriage: An At-Risk Relationship

By Erin Prater
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
First responder marriages face the same challenges as civilian marriages, plus an entirely unique set.
There are several substantial plusses to a career in first response. Society will always have a need for firefighters, police officers and EMTs. The pay is regular and the benefits are comprehensive. But for every plus, there’s a minus that’s much harder to swallow. first responder marriages face the same challenges as civilian marriages, plus an entirely unique set. You and your spouse can act preemptively by recognizing the stressors unique to first responder marriages. Are any of the stressors below plaguing your marriage? If so, pray together and brainstorm solutions. If not, ask yourselves how you would deal with these problems if they were to arise in the future.
  • Long shifts, odd hours. Emergencies happen 24 hours a day, not just 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. In the field of first response, odd hours are often the exception rather than the rule. When a shift is over, a worn-out firefighter can’t walk away from a warehouse blaze. A bleary-eyed police officer can’t fall-out of a high-speed chase when the clock hits 5. As Murphy’s Law would have it, duty often calls during dinner, sex, a cozy date-night in, a birthday celebration – any time that’s disruptive.
  • Increased tendency to become “lost” in work. The work of first responders is emotionally, physically and even spiritually consuming. Most first responders are passionate about their work and feel a sense of constant duty as a public defender. Consequently, it’s hard (and sometimes impossible) to say no to back-to-back shifts, overtime and bringing work home – possibly to the detriment of the family.
  • Calamity one minute, calm the next. One minute a first responder is en route to his station; the next he’s involved in a hostage scenario, racing to save the life of a drowning boy or fighting for his life in a firefight between rival gangs. It may take a first responder hours, even days, to “come down” from the situation.
  • Increased susceptibility to mental illness. National studies have found that first responders deal with significantly higher rates of substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide. One study found first responders to be six times more likely to commit suicide than the average civilian. The job of the first responder is an emotional rollercoaster, and its nature makes veterans susceptible to emotional numbness, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, cynicism, isolationism, disturbing flashbacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a host of other mental and emotional issues.
  • Stretched budgets. Civil servants are never paid as much as they’re worth. As a result, first responders are often on limited budgets, especially if the family is single-income. Monetary issues, along with sex, are the top catalysts for martial arguments.

Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.