Q&A: How do I stop arguing with my FIFO boyfriend about his time at home?
Hi Ange, my boyfriend is currently on a two and two roster, which is pretty lucky I know. The problem is that I'm finding it very difficult to manage my life when he gets back and we often argue about how he should be spending his time. I am at uni and also work part time. I know he feels like everyone is bidding for a piece of his time when he gets home but I just want him to myself, especially in the first couple of days. I love him and want to stop this constant back and forth of my needs vs his. Sue
Hi Sue, thanks for your question – as you may have noticed I decided to use this same theme for my column last month! Yours is certainly not the first question I have had on this topic and time management/prioritisation is obviously a big issue for lots of FIFO couples.
More expert advice from Angie:
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- Helping kids to cope
- Q&A: Taking the stress out of bedwetting
- Q&A: Helping your child to understand FIFO
- Sex and the FIFO couple: are you making excuses?
- How to survive with young kids and a FIFO husband
- What to do when panic attacks strike
- More about Angie and her role with Mining Family Matters
Please click here to ask Angie a question, or to offer any comments or ideas for topics that you think might benefit mining families.
I am not clear from your question whether you and your boyfriend live together or not. It is tricky for me to give specific advice not knowing the details of your situation, such as how much time you spend together, what else you each like to do, how long you have been together and those sorts of things. I will do my best!
It sounds as though you are very busy yourself with studying and working. I am guessing that you try to organise your life so you can be as available as possible when your boyfriend is home? I wonder if your boyfriend feels pressured by this especially if other people also do this when he is home? ("everyone bidding for his time"). If everyone really is bidding for his time and he is really busy when he comes back it's natural that you might make yourself even more available to him so you can at least see him sometimes. This could become a vicious cycle where your boyfriend takes your availability for granted and you are left feeling disappointed or dissatisfied. This is an example of a negative relationship cycle which says little about your feelings for each other - you are both caught in a pattern that suits neither of you!
This might sound like strange advice but I suggest that you become less available to your boyfriend when next he is home (not as in playing games and pretending you don't want to see him, just as in continuing on with your usual busy life, not making yourself super available just because he is home, and also by letting him know that this is what you are doing and why).
This might sound like a risk, and I guess it is. This risk is that your boyfriend won’t respond by making time to be with you. As hard at that might be, it is important information for you about him and the relationship. BUT there is also an opportunity here - you are giving him an opportunity to be the one wanting to spend more time with you, and that sort of balance is important for all relationships.
If you read my column from last month (click here!) you will see that I suggest taking the time to have a look at what areas of life are important to you and how satisfied you are in each of these areas. This exercise will allow you to have a look at how you are spending your own time and whether or not this 'matches' what is important to you. Ask your boyfriend to do the exercise as well and have a look at what is important to him. Doing this exercise together might help you two understand why arguments are happening.
I hope that this helps, please write back with more details of your relationship (these can remain confidential) if I have pitched this advice wrong for you and your boyfriend.
To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.