Q&A: Help! I've seen photos and feel sick about what goes on at shift change

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By psychologist Angie Willcocks

Hello! My partner of many years has been FIFO for just over a year. All has been fine and we have been happy, however recently I have seen pictures of some young girls who work at the same mine in very skimpy clothing, and not just on one occasion. My partner never mentions any females at work, not even in general conversation regarding his day, which I’ve always thought a bit odd, but now knowing there are young females flaunting their bodies on shift change nights I’m feeling sick. I have spoken to my man about it and he has admitted that he doesn't tell me enough, however I am feeling uneasy and do not like it that while us mothers are keeping the fort at home the miners are getting an eyeful of flesh and the company is allowing it. I feel silly writing to you about this. I am not young but it is making me so sad and I don’t feel as though I want my husband to see my body ever again. Things have changed with me. My man doesn't know this yet of course, he hasn’t been home yet since. What should I do? Any advice would be great, Thank you.

Thanks for your message. It must be really upsetting for you to find out about the girls in skimpy clothing. I'm wondering where you saw the photos and what the explanation is for them? It's worthwhile asking your hubby for some details on what happens at shift change. If you decide to do this, you have to be open to the idea that you might not like what you hear.

Many men I speak to would rather that their partner at home not know some of the details about shift change (girls in skimpy outfits, men drinking to excess) in part because they don't want their partners to worry unnecessarily, and partly because they're sort of embarrassed to be associated with it all. I can't know what the relationship is like between you and your husband, but maybe he hasn't told you about women at work out of respect for you, and because it's not overly relevant to him.

Remember, most men simply want what most women want – a happy, loving and faithful relationship. So, if until now you’ve always believed that you have a happy, loving and faithful relationship with your husband, you probably do.

Try not to let the information about the women on shift change bother you too much. After all, nothing has actually changed in your relationship with your husband. As hard as it is, try to put the thoughts to one side and come back to focussing on all the great things you two have together.

On the topic of not letting your husband see your body, I don't think that will help! I'm pretty sure your husband doesn't need or expect you to have the body of a 22-year-old woman (do you need or expect him to have the body of a 22-year-old man?) Again, focus on what you do have (what is the best part of your body? Which part does your husband love?)

If needed, spend some time reconnecting, not disconnecting. Talk to him about your concerns and look for ways to feel connected and close to him. I know this will take some courage, as it might seem easier to disconnect from him. But in the long run, pulling away won't be any good for either of you.

I hope this helps.


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.