Why I left the kids at home and went to Paris with my husband

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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 don’t understand why we can’t go," my eldest said as we drove to town.

I turned down the radio and wound up the windows, trying my best to give him my full attention while driving.

My husband and I were going to France. (Actually, as I write this we are still here for just a few more hours before heading home.)

"Why can’t we go with you?" my son asked again, looking heartbroken.

I sighed and a lump welled in my throat.

My husband had spontaneously booked us a trip to Paris for two weeks - just the two of us.

"Baby," I said, "Mummy and Daddy love you, but we need this holiday together. I promise that one day we will take you too, but this time we need to have a holiday together - just us - because it’s been so long."

He looked at me. He was clearly hurt, not just for him but for his brothers too.

"Bub - Mummy and Daddy love you very, very much, which is why we are doing this," I said, "So Mummy and Daddy stay strong together. You will understand a bit more when you get older. You know how we say 'When Mummy and Daddy stop kissing in the kitchen that’s not a good thing'?"

"Yeah," he said, screwing up his face. Our sons all hate us kissing in the kitchen, but we always say they need to worry more when we're cranky, not kissing. 

"Well," I said, "Going away to Paris with Daddy will keep us kissing in the kitchen. It’s hard to explain, baby, but we need to spend a bit more time together every now and then to make sure that we stay strong as a family for you and your brothers."

And it’s true. Couples need alone time together (just as families need time together) to keep things strong - whether it's in the hotel down the road or fulfilling your wife’s long-held desire to return to Paris. You learn and relearn things about each other. You re-evaluate stuff. You fall in love in again.

"Do you understand?" I asked, looking at him in the rear-vision mirror.

"Yeah," he said, looking at his feet and then out the window. "Will you bring me back some Lego?" 

"Yeah, I can bring you back some Lego baby." 

And so here I sit, about to fly home from Paris. I have Lego, a renewed love for my home and a whole new love (as well as the old one!) for my husband.

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