Sandy's soapbox: all marriages are stressful sometimes, so why single out FIFO families?

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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.

There's never a shortage of negative discussion about FIFO rosters and lifestyles. One of the comments that's getting me on my soapbox at the moment is that the work is really for single guys.

Why should the workplace determine your relationship status? In our house, our relationship is always under the most stress when my husband is working at home - and not doing FIFO. I suppose after 24 years, we just don’t know any different.

Then there's all the talk about FIFO divorce rates - but are the really higher, or is it just easier to get divorced these days, no matter what job you do?

Sure, FIFO has placed some extra pressures on our relationship: single parenting for extended periods; the stress of working in a dangerous job; changing relationship dynamics; unequal parenting.

FIFO partners need to be very flexible - and good at assuming both roles. We are out there fixing leaks or whatever comes our way.

Then again, this lifestyle has meant increased freedom for me. It has made our girls and I more resilient. We are able to cope with most situations.

Our relationship is also stronger because of the time apart. It gives us time to reflect and appreciate what we do have. When we do catch up, communication is clear and concise. There is no chance for boredom. We still enjoy a honeymoon period each time he is home.

Our youngest gets asked all the time, "Are your parents still together?" When we actually sat down and discussed this with her, we realised we're one of few undivorced couples in her circle of friends. Most other parents have regular 9-5 jobs and they're either separated or divorced. 

Love, respect and trust is what it's all about. Learning to be effective communicators.

All marriages are stressful sometimes. All marriages are a commitment. And all marriages require work. 

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!