How Firefighters’ Stress Can Lead to Marriage Issues

Apr 17, 2021

A Firefighter searches for possible survivors

Firefighting is one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding and dangerous occupations. These stressors typically find their way into firefighters’ marriage, causing strife and disconnection. Workplace stress can result in changes in mood, body, mind, and behavior, and though the body is made to handle stress, it cannot handle chronic stress. 

While some people who enjoy their job find personal and marital satisfaction, this is not always the case with firefighters. According to a Boston University study, when a firefighter loves his wife and children dearly, he will experience constant anxiety, specifically from the workplace’s dangers. The more dedication and passion a firefighter has for his job, the more likely he will put himself in more dangerous situations, thereby jeopardizing his marriage and family. The weight of this risk and sacrifice is immense, sometimes leaving firefighters feeling guilty for their passion and love for their job.

Statistics also indicate that about 90% of firefighters are men, and they usually strive to protect their spouse from the emotional trauma and underlying risks of their occupation. This increases their current burden, and considering the danger they’re generally exposed to, such as hazardous chemicals, smoke, and injuries, stress is almost unavoidable. Additionally, they have to work their best to save people and deal with the death of their colleagues and the risk of dying in the line of duty. 

Effects of Stress on the Firefighters Lives

Strong and brave Firefighter Going Up The Stairs in Burning Building. Stairs Burn With Open Flames.

Besides the effect on their relationships, stress also has a major impact on firefighters’ physical health. It is the major cause of death in firefighters as it can lead to depression, cancer, and even heart diseases. Stress can occur during any stage of their careers, and it can be acute or chronic and, most times, unavoidable.

Though some firefighters are in a better position to deal with stress, others are unable. And in the long-term, it can result in mental and physical disorders in life. The way they deal with stress determines their well-being and good health. Firefighters usually experience mental health symptoms such as memory loss, concentration impairment, insomnia, irritability, and anxiety. Though it may not indicate only stress, they are still red flags. Stress affects the brain negatively, and if not addressed in time, it will change its structure and lead to brain damage.

Besides the mental effects, firefighters’ stress can also manifest in their physical health due to the job’s grueling challenges. For instance, they might have to climb long stairs to save victims with heavy gear, and they must be physically fit to handle these tasks with ease. Overtime, this physical labor will take a toll. Other times they get worn out, and they can show signs or symptoms of stress, including dizziness, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, appetite changes, and grinding teeth. These symptoms will weaken the firefighter’s physical health, lead to further deterioration of their health, and even weaken the immune system.

Firefighting Job and Marriage Issues

Because of these demands, many firefighters feel tired and stressed after a long day. It’s important to disengage or detach from the work after leaving the workplace to promote recovery and avoid stress or emotional strain.

According to a Journal of Happiness Studies study, workplace stress can also affect our relationships and how the partner views the relationship. The study adds that as the partner becomes stressed at work, he will start detaching from his marriage, affecting the quality of the relationship with his significant other.

This can be worse in the firefighting field. Over time, the relationship’s challenges, plus the attachment to the work, can lead to breakups or divorce.

Effects of Workplace Stress in Firefighters’ Marriages

Despite the adverse effects of stress, it is sometimes crucial to the survival and commitment of some. Though the firefighting job seems stressful at times, especially when you have to attend to an emergency, you get job satisfaction when you do well and a sense of pride and confidence, which can benefit your marriage. However, this temptation should be controlled; take time to relax after your job and spend time with your spouse.

Workplace stress affects marriages daily; if one spouse is stressed, it can easily trickle into the marriage. Stress is contagious, and once the firefighter starts experiencing it, the marriage will be damaged unless you formulate steps to deal with it. Though the wife may not be a firefighter, what the husband experiences in the workplace, the wife also undergoes it. This is common, especially when they have children, as she will have to spend most of her time catering to them.

Additionally, men tend to be more open and communicative with their friends; however, it’s the opposite at home. They will try to fake or hide their emotions, believing their marriage is already strong and therefore doesn’t need anymore work or communication.

Married men also take fewer risks compared to their divorced or single counterparts. It’s because their wives help in their health regulation, and they try to avoid preventive behaviors because they have social and emotional support at home. Therefore, wives are important in balancing their firefighter husbands’ risks and stresses. As a firefighter, if the stress starts to affect your mental and physical health to the point that your marriage is affected, it’s time to seek help.

 Fireman taking equipment from firefighting truck

How to Deal with Workplace Stress

During World War II, the officers were aware of the trauma and stress to which the soldiers were subjected. Therefore, after the war or at the end of the day, they would gather them and start recounting experiences that showcased their strength and bravery, which would serve to increase their morale in the field. And even today, soldiers across the world are debriefed when an accident occurs and encouraged and even required to seek help.

And when stress is identified during the earlier stages, it will be easier to control through therapy, education, or shared experiences. The number of firefighters who require critical care and incident intervention is on the rise, and these men should have numerous options for evaluating their stress management problems.


As we conclude, it’s also crucial to modify your personal behavior to improve your well-being and get rid of stress. Avoid using drugs and go to therapy when you feel stress is overwhelming you. Also, eat well, exercise, and rest to give your body ample time to recover, especially after a grueling work experience. If you deal with stress, it will be easier to maintain your marriage from the effects of stress.