Research shows one of the core risk factors for first responders is the pace of their work. They face highly stressful and risky calls and this tempo can take its toll. One study showed 69-percent of EMS professionals didn’t have enough time to recover between traumatic events. As a result, depression, stress and posttraumatic stress symptoms, and many other functional and relational conditions have been reported.
This, of course, not only affects the first responder, but also his or her spouse and family. But there are ways we can help each other persevere through trials.
First, don’t try to “fix” your spouse, which is the way many of us respond when our spouses are hurting or in crisis. Tears or a tirade mean something is wrong, and if something is wrong, it needs to be fixed. So some dutiful spouses start clicking off solutions: “Why don’t you try...?” or “If only you would...” or, “Get busy and...” Eventually, your spouse may need a solution, but not when he or she is feeling the first pain of a problem.
Second, don’t try to correct your spouse. Some husbands and wives assume that their spouse’s trial is the result of a mistake or a sin. So they try to remedy the situation by setting things straight: “What’s wrong with you? Get hold of yourself. You wouldn’t feel this way if you...” And even if there are sins or shortcomings to deal with, when your spouse is in pain is not the time to deal with them.
Third, don’t try to talk your spouse out of his or her pain. Don’t say something like, “It’s alright, Honey. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. Everything will be okay. Look on the bright side. God works everything out for our good.” At that moment, everything is not alright for your mate. True, God can and does cause all things to work together for good (see Romans 8:28). But your spouse may not be in the mood for a pep talk.
What you can provide is just what your spouse needs in that moment: comfort. Simply wrap your arms around your spouse, or hold his or her hand. Later, you can move forward in taking an active role in helping your mate heal his or her pain. But that first response should be to draw close to your hurting partner and provide the ministry of comfort.
Over the long haul of a lifetime marriage, each of you will experience a variety of pains: physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. When your spouse is hurting, no matter what else he or she needs to get through the trial, your dear one needs your comfort.
In your marriage relationship, you are the primary conduit through whom God desires to comfort your spouse. You should be “first on the scene” with expressions of genuine sorrow and comfort. Our friend, Dr. David Ferguson says, “The ministry of comfort is not about trying to ‘fix’ people, correct them, or motivate them with a pep talk. Such efforts may help at times, but they do not bring comfort. The God of comfort gives hope and strength and eases pain in a hurting person when we compassionately mourn that hurt with them.”
You and your spouse can persevere through anything in your marriage journey when you let God use each of you as ministers of comfort to the other.