Episode #4: Building a Thriving Firefighter Family

Noel & Keni chat with Mike & Anne Gagliano, a firefighter couple who has literally written the book on overcoming Challenges of the Firefighter Marriage. This conversation will help you navigate the inevitable challenges that come after tough shifts and deployments.

Stronger Families Podcast

Episode 4: Heroes at Home – Building a Thriving Firefighter Family

Join us for this episode of the Stronger Families Podcast, a space where we have candid conversations, so together we can build a stronger family. Host and CEO of Stronger Families, Noel Meador, is joined by co-host Keni Thomas to discuss the side of things not glorified in the media. In today’s episode, guests Mike and Anne Gagliano join in to chat about firefighters and their marriages. Mike and Anne are co-authors of the book, Challenges of the Firefighter Marriage, and here they discuss the nuances of challenges that couples in this occupation have to work through.

To get this conversation started, our hosts ask Mike and Anne about the unique challenges that firefighters have in their marriages. Learn about both the profession of a firefighter and the importance of marriage. Anne shares her thoughts remembering back to when people started asking Mike for marital advice. They intentionally decided to chat as a couple in thinking through the unique challenges of living with a firefighter after 24 years of marriage and both learned a lot. Mike shares how it was heartbreaking it was to continually come across people who’d been through a lot but were no longer married. The devastating news of such marital challenges brought deep grief that led them to ask these questions.

Noel and Keni dive deeper to learn about these particular challenges firefighters face. First, they discuss the exposure to trauma, and what this does to one’s soul. Listen as they chat about “the tough run” trauma and the emotional impact firefighters experience. While the most common reaction to trauma is initially anger, followed by sorrow, anger is what gives energy and the will to fight. However, Anne also touches on how anger can become cumulative and come home to affect one’s spouse. Mike shares about how there is only so much a person can do to deaden the pain of a lifetime of coping with this horrific trauma.

Shifting to more spousal relationships, Mike and Anne share how they worked to navigate these issues in their own marriage. They touch on the fine line of over-sharing versus not sharing enough. Anne shares how they reached a place where she understood what Mike was dealing with on a daily basis and how the three major influences of danger, trauma, and sleep deprivation play into this. Learn about the 5 essential conversations every firefighter should have with their spouse. Moving towards the topic of re-entry, Mike and Anne discuss the various complexities of this with spouses, family dynamics, and how to help alleviate some of the burdens with communication. Finally, they touch on detachment and how there is a difference between temporary detachment and relational apathy. Learn about a release valve and the need to find a common language. Mike and Anne emphasize the necessity of prioritizing marriage first, then family, then the second family (team and community). By keeping the marriage relationship central and sacred, Mike says it’ll help the others to properly fall in line!

As the episode draws to a close, hosts Noel and Kent thank today’s guests for their time and sharing so much wisdom! Listen as Noel and Keni debrief from today’s interview and share what lessons they gleaned!

Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!


0:01 – Welcome to today’s episode

0:45 – Hosts join in for today’s episode and chat

2:16 – Introduce guests and author couple Mike and Anne Gagliano

3:07 – Mike and Anne are welcomed on

3:40 – What are the unique challenges fire fighters have in their marriages? Anne shares

6:02 – Mike shares their deep grief that led them to ask these questions

7:16 – Exposure to trauma and what this does to one’s soul

11:15 – Learning the lines of over-sharing, not sharing enough, and re-entry time

15:20 – Family dynamics and communication with re-entry time

17:13 – The idea of detachment and prioritizing relationships

26:40 – Thank you for joining!

27:01 – A quick debrief and some of the lessons the hosts learned today


Learn more about Stronger Families, the OXYGEN Seminar, and Heroes at Home.

Check out Mike and Anne’s book on Amazon.

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