Don't play the waiting game. Get busy with your own life instead

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Deb Russo is a FIFO wife of the offshore kind. Her husband works on oil rigs and vessels. Typically, he does a four-week-on and four-week-off roster. They've lived their entire 14-year relationship like this. Initially Deb's husband was in the Navy, then he shifted to work in the mines and did the 28/7 roster (Deb's least favourite!) With this offshore roster, though, she wouldn’t change a thing.

"I spend my life waiting for him," she said. 'She' in question is my hairdresser/beauty therapist (because if I have to multitask, so does my 'entourage'!).

I listened as she pulled a white hair from my chin, and tried to determine if she was venting or asking for advice – because sometimes I confuse the two.

I understood what she was saying. I've been a defence wife, a miner's wife and now an offshore wife, and it can seem like that for sure. But I still waited for one more cue that she was asking rather than 'saying'. (I didn't want to offer unwanted advice and lose an eyebrow as a result!)

"Yeah, I just don’t know what to do," she said.

At this point I decided I was safe to offer my two bobs' worth.

"Well," I said, drawing in a breath as she plastered my eyes with black dye, "You can’t spend your life doing or thinking that way because a couple of things will happen. You will stop living the life you want and then you will become resentful. And trust me, once you have kids your whole life and his will be put on the back burner regardless of him working at home or away."

She silently fussed with the black dye that was going on my eyelashes, and I waited to see how she took the advice. I could feel her hovering above me so I thought 'what the hell' and continued: "Instead of waiting for him, get on with your own life."

And then I reeled off a quick list of all the things she could do to keep herself busy and fulfilled:

  • While he is a at work, concentrate on all the things you have ever wanted to do work-wise 
  • Return to study 
  • Catch up with your girlfriends
  • Learn that being alone is good for you
  • Take up a hobby 

"And when you have kids," I continued, "It’s important that you try ('try' being the optimum word) to still live a fulfilled life too. Otherwise your will spend your life waiting for them to grow up, before having a life of your own."

I also suggested it might be time to regroup as a couple.

"That part is essential," I said, "You guys don't have kids so you could try spending a whole weekend locked up in bed, like my husband and I did once before the boys came along.

"Nowadays we stop at MacDonald’s before arriving home from the airport pick-up. The boys play and we regroup, even if it's over a Big Mac while sitting on grimy plastic chairs. It's sometimes still needed and always still loved." 

"Yeah, you’re right," she said, almost sounding excited. "I have always wanted to do that massage course!"

She was shuffling around me, getting ready to wipe the gunk from my lashes. Advice shared and 10 years taken from my face – multitasking at its best!

More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at and if you've got any questions for her, please click here.

And here's another oil and gas couple's advice on making FIFO family life work when you're working offshore