To My Dear Husband, I Am Worried Your Heart Has Hardened

by | Communication, Especially For The Fire Wife, Everyday, Firefighter Marriage



As fire wives we must understand this : Our husbands are exposed to trauma everyday.

Sometimes, it isn’t one large traumatic event that can take a mental toll on your spouse, it’s the constant and continual exposure to these so-called ‘minor’ traumas over time.

The fire service teaches them to cut their emotions off for survival.

“When living in a constant state of being ‘on-edge’, physical survival becomes the priority, and emotional wellbeing is just an afterthought.”

While this mindset may prove valuable at the firehouse, it is not suited for home. Many firemen have trouble turning it on and off between home and the station and this can come off as a lack of empathy – a kind of coldness or ‘hardening of the heart’ as some say.

There’s a word for this: COMPASSION FATIGUE – the fatigue that comes from continuously helping people in a crisis or traumatic state.


These emotional blockages can cause conflict in your household and relationship, but how do you address it?

When his career asks him to be one thing at work, but you need him to be another at home, how do you ask that?

This is hard. It’s a hard conversation to approach. This time, we thought we’d say it in a letter that might be an inspiration for a letter you’d write from your own heart to your husband.


To My Love,

I wrote these words from the deepest part of my heart and love for you.

There are so many things I want to say but the words don’t form right in my mouth.  And this is so super important I don’t want to get it wrong.

The man I fell in love with…. The one with the big-hearted laugh, whose smile I could see in his eyes…. I know he’s still in there but I haven’t seen him much lately.

I see a darkness and a hardened heart, and while I understand the stressors you face bring this upon you, it’s not a way for anyone to keep living.

I know others see it as well but perhaps I’m the only one close enough to your heart to be able to say these words.

I miss you.  The kids miss you.  Our friends miss you.

We miss your spirit and your compassion and your light-hearted fun.

We miss your encouraging words.

And if we are missing this on the outside, I can’t imagine what you must be feeling on the inside.

You mean everything to me and while it’s hard for me to say these words, I realize I may be the only one in a position to see this side of you. 

 I can see that you’re not the same person you used to be, and it pains me to see you suffer. 

I understand it may be necessary to turn off your emotions and work in survival mode, but that can’t be the only way forward.  Those feelings need to be dealt with – and this is where hearts can get hardened.

I know you’ve seen this in co-workers and you don’t want to be that either.

You aren’t alone through this journey but also… you have to be the one to choose the next step.

There is no shame in admitting to needing help – it’s the bravest thing you can do.

Please don’t let your heart become hardened beyond repair. 

I still believe the amazing person that I fell in love with is there.  I see that twinkle every once in a while.

With all my love,

[Your Name]


You may opt to have an in-person conversation with your husband, and when doing that keep these ideas in mind:

  1. Choose the right time and place: It’s important to have this conversation in a comfortable and private setting where you can both express yourselves freely without any interruptions. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and not distracted. 
  2. Use “I” statements: Start the conversation with “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This will help your husband understand how his emotional distance is affecting you without feeling attacked. For example, say “I feel lonely and disconnected when we don’t talk” instead of “You never talk to me anymore.” 
  3. Be specific: Be specific about the situations where you feel his emotional distance. For example, if you feel he is emotionally distant during dinner, mention that specific time and how it makes you feel. 
  4. Listen to his perspective: Give your husband a chance to share his perspective on the situation. Maybe he is dealing with some specific personal or work-related issues that are making him feel especially distant.


A hardened heart is not irreversible. But you can’t do it for him. He has to want it for himself.

Pour out your heart my dear fire wife friend.  Your words can be the most impactful words to give him the motivation to seek change. 

In case this is you… here are some extra resources:

Crisis Support Now

Maybe life has gotten really out of control and you or your first responder need help now. Or maybe... you just don't know and need to talk to someone who gets it.

Every request is confidential.

Hear more questions like this…

Access the Ask an Expert replay with First Responder trained professionals to get answers about the stress and trauma first responder life brings to your relationship and family.

Your Fire Life is different.
So your communication needs to be too.

Learn how to communicate well through the Stress and Traumas (Big T and Little t)

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.


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