Put your marriage first. One day, your kids will thank you for it

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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.

"Was it worth it?" she asked him.

I wasn't there, but apparently he gave her a flat "YES".

It was a friend of ours, asking my husband if our 17-day trip to Paris last year (without our children) was worth it.

By "worthiness" she was questioning how could we leave our children behind and put ourselves first.

This is where she and I differ. Actually, it’s where I start to differ with quite a few people!  

Fact is, my husband and I often put our marriage first.

Our marriage is important to us – so much so that often the kids will come second fiddle to date night. Paris was important to us and so was last weekend away sans kids in Sydney.

After all, once the kids are gone, where will we be as a married couple if we don’t invest into our marriage now.

The kids wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our marriage and so it comes first. Not only because I am selfish and want him to myself every now and then, but because I want my marriage to last well after my children leave home (and not just to last but I want it to be a happy one). I want to know him as a 50-year-old man like I knew the 24-year-old boy. I don’t want to be married to a stranger, or twiddling my thumbs as we eat dinner and watch TV because it's better than making conversation. 

The other reason we make our marriage a priority is for the kids and for our family. If we're happy and connected, the kids benefit too.  

So, if you need some tips, here are four ways to put your marriage first:

  • Date nights: make time to go out one-on-one so you can talk without constant interruptions and distractions.
  • Chat throughout the day. If this isn't possible on site, send regular, short emails or texts. 
  • Go nuts with the PDA – it’s a natural progression to step 4.
  • Have sex. No need for details. When? How? It's up to you. Just do it.

Be clever and consider putting your marriage before your kids every once in a while. They might not like missing out on a holiday in Paris, but eventually they'll thank you for it! 

More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at www.thefifowife.com.au 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