FIFO RELATIONSHIPS- NEGOTIATING CONFLICTING NEEDS
More and more people are experiencing the challenges that FIFO positions bring to relationships and it is becoming clear that many relationships are suffering as a result. Commonly, the toughest challenge for a couple is to negotiate between the needs and expectations of the partner who works away with the needs and expectations of the partner whose life remains unchanged.
Although men have historically often worked away from home in professions such as the military, navy, pilots, truck drivers and so forth, the FIFO situation is unique because of the sheer number of households it affects. In those above-mentioned professions, traditionally, children grew up in such households and often “took over” from their fathers, and thus may already be familiar with the lifestyle; nowadays, most FIFO workers are new to this way of life and lack this frame of reference for how to make relationships viable under these circumstances. Additionally, whilst still vastly male dominated, women are also becoming increasingly prevalent in the FIFO scene.
There is another variable that makes todays FIFO work different from afore mentioned professions- a relatively high salary. Many couples and families that choose to take a FIFO position do so for the financial benefits that it presents which allows them to “get ahead” in life. With time, the couple gets established in a level of lifestyle that is too expensive to quit. This may put the relationship under a lot of pressure, as the couple then feel that they have to choose between their relationship and their way of life. Often, these issues are not spoken of clearly and honestly. At times, the partner who works FIFO can feel unspoken pressure to keep going, as he or she feels responsible for maintaining the level of financial comfort.
The FIFO relationship becomes problematic as the needs of the partner who works away often clash with the needs of the partner that stays, thus leaving one or both partners neglected or dissatisfied. These differences can often be exacerbated by a lack of communication. At the onset of FIFO work, many couples describe their time together as too precious to spend arguing. Over time however, this becomes a habit and the many things that go unsaid pile up. As a result, one or both partners can become resentful and less willing to listen to the other persons needs. By this point, both partners often feel a sense of distance and the time together has often becomes less joyful and start affecting other areas such as intimacy, sex-life, trust and so forth.
It can be very difficult to know where to begin when couples begin addressing some of these issues. In the beginning, it is difficult to make heads and tails of the different problems and to figure out what each person really wants from the other. This process can be frightening and often it can seem like there is no resolution. Getting some counselling can be really useful for many couples as it allows both partners to speak their mind without getting into old habits of blaming one another or fighting. Counselling can help establish new communication patters and as each partner feels heard and validated, willingness to meet the other person’s needs emerges
If you would like to learn more about FIFo Relationships or would like to make an appointment please contact us