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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to deal with my partner being away in the mines (FIFO)?

    Related Topic
    My partner and I have been together for 6 years and have lived and worked together for the whole time, now due to financial issues he is working FIFO and I'm finding it very hard to deal with for the 2 weeks he's away. I get very emotional and find it hard to do certain things as its what we would normally do together. All my friends and family live 2 hrs away so don't always have the option to catch up. I only get 2-3 shift a week at work and fine when I'm there but as soon as I'm at home I feel depressed and sometimes even more emotional after I talk to my partner on the phone (try talk once everyday), it's now been nearly 6 months since he started and still haven't found it any easier until it comes close to the day he gets home and once home everything is better than ever. What are ways to help make dealing with his absence easier for me? Help
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    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    It sounds like you're really struggling with your partner being away. You are trying to manage a type of ‘separation anxiety’, and possibly a more general anxiety about being alone. You do have some coping strategies for dealing with this already - distraction (focus on work) is working well for you, as is being wth other people.

    You might wish to find more ways to distract yourself when you are not at work - take up a new hobby, watch a good movie, etc. You may also find it helpful to get out socially, and give yourself a chance to make new friends closer to home.

    Other helpful ways to deal with anxiety are learn ways to relax and be calm - there are some terrific classes,, books and CDs that teach a variety of relaxation and meditation techniques. Areobic exercise releases endorphins into the body - these are our natural ‘feel good’ hormones that change our mood for the better.

    The main thing that generates anxiety, though, is our minds - the thoughts we have in reponse to things that are happening. If, for example, you are thinking “I can't bear it when my partner is away, I can't possibly manage” you will start to feel distressed, and then find it difficult to do something that makes you feel better. You may benefit from seeing a counsellor, who can help you explore this further (using an approach called cognitive behavioural therapy), and work with you on how to challenge thoughts or beliefs that may be creating and intensifying your anxiety about being alone.

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    Mary-Anne Wallace

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Working with individuals and couples including FIFOI possess a Masters degree and am registered with the Psychology Board of Australia with endorsement in the area … View Profile

    It can be difficult adjusting to the FIFO lifestyle with long periods spent at home alone. You say your friends and family do not live nearby, what about using the internet to connect with others? There are sites dedicated to the partners of FIFO workers, it might help you feel less isolated if you joined an online community. There are many forums where people are active during the day and night which would enable you to reach out when the anxiety feels overwhelming. The suggestions mentioned above can also be very helpful. If you continue to feel this way it might be worthwhile contacting a psychologist for some more specific assistance.

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