Staying connected with your partner in a FIFO relationship

Having had previous personal experience of living a FIFO life as a wife and mother (working full-time and university studies) with a husband who worked away for many years on 4 in 1 swings (4 weeks away, 1 week home), I understand the challenges and strains this brings to a couples relationship, their families and friendships and how it can completely change your life.

FIFO life brings about so many fantastic career opportunities and financial gains, however it needs to be carefully managed with open communication and a strong sense of commitment to make it work with your partner, kids and family/friends on the home front.

I’ve worked with many Couples and Individuals in Counselling and Coaching sessions who are in a FIFO lifestyle and with those who are regular travellers with their jobs.  The areas they can experience challenges in include: 

  • Feeling a loss of connection: emotionally, physical distance, sexually, mentally

  • Frustration from the person who is home-based, feeling isolated, not having a break from full-time parenting and difficulties in staying social with friends due to children commitments and their partner being away for work.

  • Frustration from the FIFO person/regular traveller person, feeling like they’re a visitor in their own home because they’re only home for a few days. They’re tired after their shift and want to relax at home, but they need to keep to the family/children schedules and the social events with friends.

  • Feeling like it’s an emotional rollercoaster for both the person home-based and FIFO person/regular traveller person when they are together. After a couple of days of reuniting at home, the anxiety and frustration settles in between partners and family members, knowing their time together is near the end before they need to leave home for work again.

  • There may be resentment between both home-based and FIFO person/regular traveller person, where they may not feel understood of how hard their lives are as separate individuals doing different roles.

  • Managing with betrayl or broken trust from an affair from either partner or both.

  • Dealing with the prospect of ending a FIFO lifestyle for whatever reason. Working through how to manage existing financial commitments based on receiving FIFO income and finding another job close to home with equal or most likely lesser income than FIFO work.

Partners can remain connected with their partner throughout their FIFO/Regular Traveller lifestyle – it takes Commitment, Consistency and Compassion.

FIFO Counselling North Lakes

Ways to keep a strong connection with your partner in a FIFO or a Regular Traveller lifestyle are:

  • Allow time to plan clear expectations and boundaries before embarking on a FIFO lifestyle or a job that requires you to travel regularly with work away from home.

  • Plan out when you will talk with each other during the week/week nights, allocate days and times that suit you both and keep to them.

  • Maintain regular and consistent communication, however brief or long it may be. Sometimes brief little messages during the day to check-in, or wish each other a good day and make a huge difference – knowing you’re being thought of.

  • Organise your reunion time back together at home in advance. Use a shared diary app where you can both add in family schedules, social events and a date with your partner, so you know what’s going on, without last minutes plans, which helps to avoid disagreements.

  • Plan a ‘date’ for just you and your partner, without kids, organise babysitting in advance. Make quality intimate time a priority for you both.

  • If anxiety and frustration creeps in, talk about it truthfully and openly with your partner, so they know what’s happening for you, doing this helps to avoid an argument and any misunderstandings.

  • Communicate openly and mindfully. Be aware of what things or topics that may trigger either one of you towards an argument.   

Openly and clearly communicate your perspective using ‘I’ statements.

Examples: ‘I feel…’  or ‘ I think…’  or ‘what’s coming up for me’.

Then validate each other by repeating back what you’ve heard, so you’ve both felt seen, heard and understood.

Examples: ‘so what you’re saying is…’ or ‘I acknowledge what you’re feeling about…’.

Being heard, seen and understood between partners helps to emotionally connect and clear up any misunderstanding or assumptions.

  • On the last day of your home stay together, have some quiet time together to help ease any anxiety.

  • Talk about important things a couple of days before the end of your home stay together, don’t leave it to the last minute.

  • Avoid financially over-committing just in case the FIFO lifestyle stops, so your lifestyle is not compromised.

  • Seek out professional guidance in counselling/coaching to help keep your relationship on track.

To learn and know more about how to create balance and maintain emotional connection with your partner and remain in sync with family life while having a FIFO/regular traveller lifestyle, click here to book your Couples or Individual Counselling session with Linda.

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