Q&A: How do I stop FIFO husband from quitting?

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Q: My husband has just started working away in the mines on a 2 and 1 roster. We have a two-year-old daughter and he has only been away two nights and already wants to come home. He is finding it difficult being away from us. I really want him to stick with it for a while, but he wants to come home. How can I help him be ok when he is away? And how can I help him to make the decision to stick with it? Thanks

A: It's hard to give an answer to this question when I don't know the full details of your family and how and why you and your husband made the decision to do FIFO. It's a big lifestyle and family decision and certainly can take some time to get used to. Sometimes working away can seem like a good idea in theory, but not so great in reality! This is particularly the case when the decision is rushed into or made under financial pressure. The FIFO lifestyle is most successful when the couple sits down and works out the pros and cons and potential problems that might be faced. A positive approach is called for, as well as a willingness to get through the tough times.

I'm wondering why your husband is finding it difficult to be away from you after two days. Is he used to spending a lot of time with you both? Does be worry about you? Or is it as simple as him just missing the two of you?  People with a history of difficult separations (for example parental separation, death of someone close) find being away from their family especially difficult.

I also wonder why you want him to stick at it. Are you more keen than him to make the FIFO lifestyle work? Does he have a history of not sticking things or not supporting the family? Has his work been a topic of disagreement between you two in the past?

My advice to you is to encourage him to stick it out at least until his break and then have a serious discussion about whether FIFO is for you as a family. It you both decide that it is, your husband can learn some specific skills to help with cope with being away. The most important of these skills are: 

And for both of you:

  • Communication! It's vital, especially in the first few rosters, to make a specific time to talk together about what is going well and what could be done better with the FIFO roster.

Problem solving together about issues related to FIFO helps to make the problem about the lifestyle, rather than about him, or about you and your relationship.

Good luck and please come back to me if you'd like more advice.


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