Down time on arrival, no lingering goodbyes and a positive attitude: Sandy's way of making it work
Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.
I seem to get asked the question more and more: "Are you still married?"
But the thing is, my husband works 50 days away and right now has just six days at home. Of those six, 12 hours either side is spent travelling. That's the reality of working offshore. He used to have 14 days at home, but coming to the end of the job it’s a case of all hands on deck.
Soon (because the job is finishing) I'll have him home for a six-week break. We’ve never had this happen!
There's a certain stereotype that goes with fly-in, fly-out: it’ll end in divorce!
Well hello world, we’re living proof it’s not happening to us. Together for 33 years and married this year for 27 years. In fact, research out of the US has recently found that mining professionals are among those most likely to be married. So much for stereotypes!
So how do we make it work? (And yes, marriage is "work". Work to survive. Work together.)
All I know is that every 50 days I have the man home and when I pick him up at the airport my heart misses a beat. And to be honest I can’t wait to jump his bones.
What works for us is after the initial period of re-acquaintance. I always give him some down time to watch movies, eat chips and drink beer. Actually – to do whatever his heart desires.
As far as I am concerned he has earned this down time. And he always treats me to dinner or a long lunch too.
Come the day before fly-out day, the mood of the house changes. It’s a little more sombre. The gathering of all the laundry and bits that need to go back, hopefully including his passport (but that’s another story in itself!)
At the airport there are no tears or lingering goodbyes. I do actually have a heart, but I act like an ice maiden. Over the years it has got a bit matter-of-fact: the sooner he goes, the sooner he will be back.
As we generally have a run to the airport in the middle of the night, it's back home for me, bed for an hour. After that, stay out of my way. Cleaning and tidying is my friend. Not the chocolate or bottle of wine.
It has taken years to discover what works for us. And it's different for every couple or family unit.
I've discovered it doesn't pay to dwell on the negative side of the lifestyle. Instead, I surround myself with positive, caring people. I don’t let anybody rent negative head space. Negativity breeds negativity.
So I'll close this month with a quote I came across the other day. So true...
"The couples that are meant to be are the ones who go through everything that’s designed to tear them apart and come out stronger."
More from Auntie Sandy:
- Getting rid of stuff to remember what's most important
- Coco Pops for dinner: the dietary habits of FIFO partners
- Facebook support group comes to the rescue of sick FIFO mum
- Don't take your health for granted - especially in FIFO marriages
- Sandy's soapbox: all marriages are stressful sometimes, so why single out FIFO families?
- Lessons learnt from a transient FIFO life
- How to be a better listener and friend
- Sure I'm a survivor - but fly-out day can still be tough sometimes
- Cutting the apron strings and learning to find your own way
- How to stay calm and carry on when aliens possess your teenagers
- If FIFO life has taught my daughters one thing, it's resilience
- If you want a job done, give it to a busy mum
- Whatever your reason for choosing FIFO, set realistic goals and stick to them
- Yes I'm FIFO: DON'T JUDGE ME!
- Tough love: how to tempt fussy eaters
- From the Pilbara to Indonesia - how I've learnt to love thy neighbour
- Sandy's Law: things always go wrong when you're on your own
- Even for a FIFO survivor, the shit does hit the fan sometimes!
- To raise great kids today, return to the values of yesteryear
- Looking back on how we prepared the girls for school
- Cocktails at breakfast, waterfights and a house full of people - Sandy's perfect Christmas
- Fifty Shades of Sandy: sex and the "experienced" FIFO couple
- Karratha: a little mining town with a big heart
- Striking the right balance between parent and friend as the kids get older
- Coming out as a Kiwi to offer advice to other NZ mining families
- Even FIFO Supermums do it tough sometimes
- Prepare FIFO kids for change and you'll all have amazing adventures
- Yes, mining life can take a toll on friendships
- How to communicate with tetchy teenagers and a husband working offshore
- Give your kids the blessing of hard work and routines
- Special times are what (and when) you make them
- Keeping your cool when travelling with little people in tow
- Goals, routines and other clever clues for FIFO families
- The memorable meltdown moments of a FIFO mum
- The joys of travelling across Australia to a new mining town
- The pros and cons of boarding schools for FIFO kids
- How to relocate AND save your sanity
- How to be happy with and without your partner
- Meet Auntie Sandy, the FIFO survivor
If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!