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How to Keep a Long-Distance FIFO Relationship Strong

Long-distance relationships can be really hard for couples. They face problems like changes in family life, dealing with parenting issues, missing each other, and getting used to being together again when they’re apart for work, which is known as Fly In, Fly Out (FIFO).

Choosing to work FIFO is not an easy decision. It involves thinking about good job opportunities and good pay, but it also means dealing with problems in your relationship and family life. Sometimes, FIFO workers take a job that pays well or helps them gain experience in their field. But this choice can also mean giving up personal things and having emotional problems for both you and your partner.

Looking at statistics for FIFO relationships can be tough. About one-third of partners have mental health problems, and the same number also feel really worn out.

But for many couples, a long-distance relationship can actually make their connection stronger and more rewarding. It helps you grow as an individual and as a couple. This advice for long-distance relationships can help you and your partner through the tough times and create a happier future together.

Make the Most of Your Communication

It may sound obvious, but talking to each other is really important in any relationship, especially if you’re often apart.

In today’s digital age, there are many ways to stay connected and talk effectively, even when you’re far away. You can plan phone calls or even watch movies together online. The key is to agree on when to talk and stick to your plans.

In any relationship, it’s important to express what you need and want clearly if you want those needs to be met. Distance and tiredness can make communication harder when your partner is away a lot. Setting aside time each week for a “State of our Union meeting” is a practical way to talk about any problems, show appreciation, and resolve any issues before the next week begins.

Recognize Each Other’s Experiences (Especially When They’re Different!)

In a long-distance relationship, both people have very different experiences. For the partner at home, it can be tough managing work and family all alone. It’s important to listen to your partner and understand how they feel without feeling like you have to defend your work choices or solve all their problems. This helps you stay emotionally connected.

Long work days can be exhausting for the partner who’s away and make you feel isolated from your partner, family, and friends. Sometimes, you might feel closer to the people you work and live with for months than your own partner and kids.

It’s good to let your partner know what you appreciate about them to stay connected across the distance and when you’re back together. You can try the “3 x I Appreciates” activity once a week. It’s a time for each of you to say three specific things you appreciate about the other person. Make sure to be specific; it makes the appreciation more meaningful. Here are some examples:

Instead of saying, “I appreciate you being kind,” say, “I appreciate that you listened to me the other day and were kind in the way you spoke to me.” Instead of saying, “I appreciate you helping with the housework,” say, “I appreciate that you picked up all the clothes and did the laundry yesterday.” Instead of saying, “I appreciate your help with the kids at night,” say, “I appreciate that you gave the kids a bath and read them a bedtime story when you were home.”

Encourage Your Partner’s Growth

In a good relationship, both people have their own interests and personal growth. It’s important to be curious and interested in what your partner is up to. Ask them about their hobbies, how they feel about it, and what they like most about it. When you show interest in what they do, your partner feels like you care and support them.

Setting boundaries is also important in any relationship. Some people find it easy to say what their boundaries are, while others struggle with it.

Give Time to Adjust to Family Life Again

How the partner who’s been away transitions back into family life can affect how things go during their time back home. Both of you need to understand that each person needs some time to switch from work and being alone with the kids to being together as a family.

Start the “transition back home” the day before the flight back. Have a phone call to talk about what each of you wants or needs during the first 24-48 hours together. Be open to compromising and recognizing that both of you might have different feelings when you first reunite. Will you pick up your partner at the airport? Will the kids be there too? What’s important about the welcome when the partner who’s been away returns home (if there’s no airport pickup)? What’s the most important thing the partner at home needs help with on the first day or evening back?

For the partner who’s been away, consider having some quiet time during the flight home to get back into your role as a partner and parent. For the partner at home, think about how you’d like to be welcomed back into the family after being away and make space for that to happen.

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