A fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) relationship can prove hard to handle. In fact, the FIFO dynamic can take its toll on the very strongest of relationships.
FIFO relationships are intermittently long distance in their nature, creating a range of shifts in home life—issues that include mental stress through long periods of absence as well as chronic domestic imbalance.
Recent studies suggest that despite the inherent challenges linked to FIFO relationships, with the right approach, families can remain healthy and happy.
That said, if you’re currently navigating a FIFO relationship or you’re about to embark on one, here is some practical advice to help you thrive.
Tackle the tough issues in person
Whatever type of relationship you’re in, there is always a host of potentially difficult or stressful issues to discuss and solutions to seek concerning children, finances, and planning (among many others).
Often, these tricky conversations result in conflict. When you’re apart and talking virtually, you should aim to keep your conversations light, if possible, respectfully shelving any potentially triggering or tactical conversations until you’re together in-person.
Doing so will help you avoid any long distance resentments while giving you the chance to work as a cohesive team—which, in turn, will strengthen your relationship over time.
Give each other personal time when you’re both at home
When you’re in a FIFO relationship, you both have a great deal of juggling to do. So, when you are both at home, not only should you make family plans and cherish your time together, but you should also allow each other daily periods of personal time.
In FIFO relationships, it’s all too easy for both parties to think that they have the tougher deal—a dynamic that causes chronic resentment. But by promoting personal downtime, you will get to enjoy the rest, and have the recovery you need to thrive while demonstrating appreciation and empathy for one another.
If you’re looking for something to calm you during your personal time, read our guide to the acceptance of mindfulness.
Establish homecoming rituals
To thrive in a FIFO relationship, you should make sure you’re on the same page concerning parenting, housekeeping, and any other domestic dynamic imaginable by setting out rough rules & guidelines from the outset. You should also establish homecoming rituals to maintain harmony within the home.
If you establish homecoming rituals, you will avoid emotionally unloading on one another as soon as you’re reunited. You will also give yourself the chance to look forward to your well-deserved time together.
You could, for instance, commit to having a big family meal on the evening of your return, decide to turn your devices off for the day, or give each other an hour of personal time to collect yourselves before catching up. Really, the choice is yours.
The point here is: set your rituals and you will maximise your time together while ensuring a smooth transition between work and communal home life.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re struggling in your FIFO relationship and you need help, there is absolutely no shame in asking for it—doing so will usually make you happier and healthier in the long run.
At Life Skills Australia, we provide professional client-focused couples & relationships counselling services.
As fully certified specialists with an unrivalled passion for what we do, our services are completely tailored to the needs of our clients—we’re here to help and we will work through every single issue with you, big or small.