Q&A: I'm furious that my husband has accepted a long FIFO roster overseas

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By psychologist Jane Dodding

Q: Hello, I’m just after some tips to not resent my husband. He was working FIFO on a pretty nice roster but has decided to take a promotion. It's a much longer roster overseas and I’m furious at him. Just wondering if you have any tips to defuse my anger and try and be supportive to him? I currently feel very hurt that he has chosen work over me and already it has affected our relationship. Thanks.

A: Hi and thanks for reaching out for support during this difficult time. Reading between the lines of your comments, I assume you don’t feel like you were involved in the decision-making process, or at
least not heard. Given that this is not a decision you support, it is understandable you feel hurt and angry. It does sound like a done deal though, and you need and want to find a way to come to terms and accept the decision as your marriage is important to you.

Right now you might want to reflect on what strategies helped you in the past to deal with strong emotional reactions, for example, exercise, slow breathing, relaxing bath etc. and increase those helpful coping strategies.

What I think may be of particular benefit though, is to write out your thoughts so you can get them all out, have a break from them, and read and reflect on them the following day. It might help you to gain clarity about what exactly is upsetting you about the situation and reduce the importance of other thoughts. Pay attention to the language of your thoughts. For example “furious”: what happens to your emotion when you tone down this word to “angry”? Is your emotion the same or more or less intense?

I wonder whether one statement in particular could be fueling your hurt and anger: “He has chosen work over me”. I suggest you evaluate this thought and look for evidence for and against it with the aim to formulate a balanced view. “Have there been times when he has chosen me over work? Is it a competition between me and his work?” Do you need more information from your husband about his decision-making process to gain greater understanding and help evaluate this thought? When you have evaluated the thought, re-frame it to include all the information you have considered into a balanced statement.

Lastly, once you are clearer and have a balanced view about what upsets you so much, would it help to share this with your husband? It might promote a deep connection again if you both truly want to hear and understand each other’s perspective which may enable you to more easily support each other.

I really hope this helps you manage the situation and feel free to contact me again if you would like more support. 

To read other columns written by our psychologists, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career.

All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. 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.

Jane Dodding is a psychologist and director with MindsPlus, a group of psychologists and other mental health workers who came together in 2007 to provide support to people living and working in rural and remote regions of Australia. For further information about MindsPlus, contact 1300 312 202 or visit www.mindsplus.com.au