Q&A: I don't want my husband to work away full time. Am I a bad wife?
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
My husband has been working FIFO on and off. It was initially going to be the occasional stint, but he would like to be working FIFO permanently and I don't think I am coping with it. I find myself getting upset because I didn't choose this lifestyle, he has just decided that that is what he wants to do. It is hard at times, and when I am feeling low I don't like to express my feelings with other family and friends. Am I a bad wife for not being able to cope with the FIFO lifestyle?
You're absolutely not a bad wife for feeling as though you can’t cope with your partner working FIFO!
FIFO rarely works well for a family when there is disagreement about whether it's a good idea in the first place. Families who cope well are those where both partners sign on for the lifestyle, and then both partners can approach it with a positive attitude. You signed on for “the occasional stint”, and this was at a different time in your life. You and your partner are disagreeing about something very important and central to your lives, and this is a very stressful situation. It's all very well to say that couples should work together and compromise, but in a situation like this your strong emotions get in the way (for both of you).
It's also possible that no compromise is possible in a situation like this – it might be possible for him to change his shifts or something like that, but it's hard to see how you two could reach a 'middle ground' on this one.
Given this, the best way forward is to really nut out what's going on for each of you. It sounds like your partner is very keen to continue working FIFO, and I wonder why this is so. Do you know what it is about FIFO that suits him so well?
I also wonder what it is about FIFO that you don't enjoy. It would be good if you and your partner could sit down and talk calmly about the good and bad bits of FIFO for each of you. Maybe make a list of pros and cons of FIFO, making sure that both of you contribute to both the 'good' and the 'bad' columns. I know this is very hard to do when there is a lot of emotion about the topic, but it is a good place to start.
If you can't talk face to face without one or both of you getting upset or defensive, then try emailing or writing each other letters. I know this won't solve the problem for you two, but it might just open up enough discussion for you to hear each other's point of view and hopefully come to a decision.
If this doesn't get you anywhere, I would strongly encourage you to go along and have some counselling. Again, this won't give you the answer but it will give you both a space to open up to each other.
I wish you the very best of luck with everything.
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.