Q&A: Long-term FIFO relationship woes

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By psychologist Angie Willcocks

Q: My partner has done FIFO for many years. He works on one side of Australia and I live with our children on the other. He had to stay at work over Christmas and when he got home I told him how alone I felt. He just got in the car and drove back to work. Now I feel that he has put his job before us at a time when I really needed him. I am lost and worried. He says something snapped in his head and that it was a stupid idea but still he did it. He says he's coming home when everything is sorted, but my gut says he's not. Please help.

A: Thanks for your email. It sounds like things were very difficult and confusing for you at the time you emailed me. I hope that things have settled down a bit by now, and that you and your partner have managed to talk a bit more about what happened between you when he was last home.

Well done for telling your partner about your feelings. It is good to share your feelings about him working away, but it's also good to realise that such honest conversations are not usually easy and they don't always go to plan. It's possible that he found what you said difficult to hear and that he felt worried and hurt. It sounds like he was uncertain about his work future at that time as well, and perhaps it all overwhelmed him (and that's why "something snapped in his head"). I'm not sure if he meant to put his work before his family – it’s possible that he was worried about making sure he had a job and money coming in.

It’s very hard for me to know the history between you two, just from your email, and I'm not sure why your gut is telling you that he is not coming home. Maybe you and your partner have a history of breaking up and so your "gut" could be right, or maybe you are someone who tends to worry a lot about the relationship when your partner is away. Either way, I think it would be a great idea for you to talk further with someone one on one about your relationship concerns. You could have a look at www.relationships.com.au or call 1300 364 277 for further information about relationship counselling. I am concerned that you say you feel lost and alone. Maybe these were just one-off feelings after an argument. If so, that's pretty normal and OK. But if you often feel lost or alone, please do seek some more help. You could start by talking to your GP or having a look at the Beyond Blue site (www.beyondblue.org.au). 

I wish you all the very best.

To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, 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.

Angie Willcocks is a registered psychologist with a private practice in Adelaide – for details about Skype consultations please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She’s an expert in tackling issues such as depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, child sleep routines and relationship difficulties. She has a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Psychology and a Masters of Counselling Psychology. She is also the co-author of The Sensible Sleep Solution: a guide to sleep in your baby’s first year, which can be ordered from her website www.angiewillcocks.com.