Hi Family & Friends. Welcome back to Coffee with Clare on Thursdays! I am delighted that you are here!
I am a concerned wife. My husband, Ron, and I are in our mid 40’s. I work as an elementary school teacher, and Ron and I have two daughters ages 8 and 11 who I am very fortunate to say go to school where I teach. I love my job. Ron, on the other hand, has been a firefighter for the past 12 years. He loves his job, too; however, I see the stress on his face and the results of it day in and day out. He has a painting business on the side as he works one 24-hour schedule on and then 48 hours off. He loves his schedule. We just moved into a larger home in a great neighborhood, and now I can tell he feels the financial pressure as well. We are pretty young, and I am concerned about his health and wellbeing. I would never expect him to quit firefighting, but I am concerned about his mental and physical wellbeing. I can see the anxiousness and stress on his weary face whenever he gets off a shift. He has also been moodier lately and gets angry quicker than he used to, which I think is a result of the work stress. What can I do to help?
Spouse of Stressed Out in Seattle
Dear Spouse of Stressed Out:
It does sound like you both – and especially Ron – have a lot on your plate. It’s difficult when Ron really has two jobs, not to mention one that is very stressful. Firefighters, according to various studies, have one of the top ten most stressful jobs. It’s wonderful that he loves his job…. but I would suggest you sit down with Ron, and ask what you can do to lighten his load. Listen and try to comfort him. If he says “nothing’s wrong, I’ll be okay”, you may want to reevaluate your finances and see if there are areas you can cut back, so he could shorten his workload or maybe cut back his second job/ business.
If he doesn’t want to – I would try to creatively add some “destressers” into his life – such as you two getting out on dates at least once or twice a month if you are not already doing this. You may want to suggest walking with him, and take the girls along, around the neighborhood a few evenings a week. This may also be a good time for a short “parents only” walk around the neighborhood. Try to not only get out for a “date” night a few times a month, but try to do something fun with the family at least once a month – something that the whole family can enjoy – a day trip to the beach, zoo, park, or anything that you enjoy. Also, encourage Ron to get out with his friends, “the boys”, at least once or twice a month. Hopefully that will lighten his load too.
I might also caution that you can’t just drop everything for Ron because you work full-time in a demanding job as well and are raising a family so you must consider yourself as well.
See if these tips help over the next few months …. If you don’t see any improvement, I would suggest that Ron schedule time with your Pastor, and if you don’t have a church affiliation, maybe he can find a counselor that he can openly talk to.
Readers – any suggestions for “Spouse of Stressed Out in Seattle”?
Thank you for stopping in today! I invite you to email your questions, problems and “life challenges” directly to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you! Please remember, your inquiries and questions remain confidential!
Until next time~