Marriage And The Nurse

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

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It’s no secret that the average nurse leads a demanding and stressful life.  After working a 12-hour shift providing bedside care, it may be difficult to go home and care for a spouse. With the stress of raising a family and bringing home a paycheck, and with divorce rates at an all-time high, keeping a healthy relationship is a juggling act to say the least.

If you research why couples divorce, you’ll generally find a few common answers:

Top reasons why nurses may struggle with their relationships:

  • Childcare issues causing a strain on a relationship
  • Lack of intimacy due to a nurse’s erratic schedule
  • Lack of understanding/support from spouse
  • Money problems

It’s not hard to imagine any of the above reasons attributing to a nurse’s relationship demise. Caring for patients is a stressful, time-demanding and physically exhausting job. In order to keep our relationships healthy, we sometimes need to put our workday aside and concentrate on what is most important to us.

Dai Williams, a chartered occupational psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, authored a study published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology that found “those involved in the caring professions experience a high level of break-up. This might be because they spend too long caring for other people at the cost of their own families, or because they are naturally sensitive people who are more vulnerable and sensitive in their own relationship.”

Here are six tips to help nurses continue on with a healthy marriage.

1. Consult with a financial advisor. If money is an issue in your marriage, a financial advisor will help guide you when making those money decisions.

2. Talk it out. Always talk it out with your spouse or partner. If you don’t say what’s on your mind, your partner will never know. Remember, as much as you think you know each other, your partner can’t read your mind!

3. Make an effort. Surprise your partner by doing something out of the ordinary. Plan a surprise getaway or candlelight dinner. Let your partner know you’re still interested in them!

4. Get professional help. It never hurts to get a professional involved. Many people who have successful marriages seek marriage counseling to keep the ties strong.

5. Remember why you fell in love. Focus on the good in your partner. Don’t always dwell on the negatives.

6. Have fun! Don’t ever stop having fun with your partner!

It’s safe to say that relationships don’t come easily in life. Like nursing, relationships require care, attention, patience and hard work. If we can apply these traits to a career, then why is it so hard to apply them to our relationships?

Do you think nurses and nursing students face a higher risk of divorce compared to other professionals? Please share your thoughts and relationship tips in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. I think that with all the knowledge LPNs get on the job they should just be tested with a placement test and be able to work toward their RN without the long school episode….what do you think?

  2. Very interesting article and with many facets that face many nurses today. One aspect I would like to bring up is the spouse caregiver. My wife was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer stage IV. She survived for only 9 months, but in those months she stayed at home and only wanted me to provide direct care if possible.
    The stress level in those months with working full-time as an ER night nurse and full-time caregiver was almost crushing. If we had young children the stress would have increase exponentially. Mornings of low or high blood sugar levels, nausea and vomiting, and medications was a never ending nightmare of me being on point as a nurse and spouse.
    Until one morning shortly after I was home she was in the bathroom and collapsed against the door. Barely able to mumble a response to move away from the door I was forced to use a claw hammer to brake through and half carrying her to bed to find her blood sugar in the 30’s. Finally, after giving her honey and screaming for her swallow did her blood sugar level rise into the 70’s. With her mentation returning I calmly told here that I did not know how much longer I could care for her at home. She weakly replied that she knew. She was in hospice home care for only two weeks before passing.
    A few techniques that helped me with the stress and mental health was my love of classical music. Seeking quiet times with just listening to a favorite composers music gave me the needed space to level off the stress in my life. Also, talking with co-workers dealing with sick spouses helps as a strong social network as well as providing support to each other as well. Enlisting help from friends or family goes a long way to give the space to have your own time as well. My sister-in-law would take her sister to her physician appointments or even out for dinner if she was feeling up to the time to be away from home.
    I am sure there must be studies done on this facet of nursing issues and their personal relationships. This article just triggered a point I wanted to share with other nurses who maybe facing the same full-time caregiver and professional as well.


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