Down time on arrival, no lingering goodbyes and a positive attitude: Sandy's way of making it work

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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?"

Hell yeah!

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:

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!