FIFO does get easier – here’s why!

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Sarah Long arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met her Mr Miner soon after. They're based in Sydney and he does drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) to Orange in country NSW. Sarah came out to Oz as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

One of my first columns for Mining Family Matters was about how upset I got when Mr Miner left to go for work for four days. This month he has been away for almost four weeks, and have I shed a single tear? Not a chance!

I remember reading lots of comments and posts back when I wrote that column about how it would get easier and thinking a) No it won't! and, b) Won't it say something about our relationship if it does?

Knowing what I know now, I guess the answer to both of these questions is, 'Yes it will!'

Yep, I've now become one of those annoying 'It will get easier' people, and for that I'm truly sorry!

When you're at the stage of thinking you can't do FIFO or DIDO anymore, someone telling you that it will get easier is super unhelpful. It's like that advice you get about standing up tall if you see a bear, or not moving at all if you see a snake (really easy to say, but pretty hard to explain how that could ever be possible. If I see a snake I'm running, thanks!)

What you really want to know is how and why it will get easier. Just saying 'It will get easier' is rather lazy (similar to phrases like 'You’re better off without him' and 'Time is a great healer' when you've just been through a really tough break up). These eventually turn out to be true, but when you've just been dumped and you're staring down the barrel of a red wine bottle, it's sometimes hard to see the light.

So how does it get easier?

You become more comfortable in your relationship and in your FIFO routine for one thing. Not that our relationship was bad before, but it was newer and we needed to be together to show our love and affection. Currently, Mr Miner is in Japan snowboarding (yep, not even away working!) and he is showing his love and affection by leaving me drunken Whatsapp voice messages. My friends think this is sweet. I think it's because he's too drunk to text. Nevertheless, I know he’s there and thinking of me.

And that's another part of it: you know each other better and you also know how you work as a couple when you’re apart. I know when he's working he's often cranky and tired and doesn't have much to say. That used to upset me, but now we just text or message each other rather than talking, and that way we're both happier and it’s easier too!

I think I've also actually changed. Nearly four years ago when I met Mr Miner, I would've said that I was a people person and that having three siblings meant that I wasn't used to being alone. I never understood those people who wanted their own space, it seemed so unsociable to me – until now.

Now I love my own space. I've spent the last four weekends without Mr Miner, and whereas time apart used to stretch out ahead like an endless vortex, reaching into a huge black void of space (slightly dramatic, but seriously how it felt), this month I have been so busy that the weekends have flown past.

In fact I'm thinking of becoming a recluse this weekend, just to savour the last of my alone time (and to paint the tallboy he said is clogging up the garage, before he gets back)

So yes, it does get easier, but only because we change and adapt.

I've also heard people say they don't want to get used to it. Well, if you really don't want to, then you probably won't. It takes time (did I use that line above??) and effort, and you really do get out of a FIFO relationship what you put in. Apologies for being the cliché queen, but you will quickly come to know when it's not working and really appreciate it when it does.

Now I have another drunken Whatsapp message to go and listen to, while simultaneously pretending that I'm not smiling as I listen because, God I love his to hear his voice and I can't wait until he gets home ... well after I’ve finished that tallboy! 

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