By Donna M. White, LMHC CACP
Research shows shift work has a negative effect on health, relationships, marriages and children, and increases rates of separation and divorce. When partners work different shifts there is often little face-to-face interaction. It becomes difficult to plan any family activities, maintain healthy communication, and sometimes even a regular sex life.
In today’s economy, more and more unemployed people are finding it increasingly difficult to find work. As a result, many people are taking whatever jobs they can find — even undesirable jobs such as shift work.
Shift work jobs can leave both partners with very different feelings. For example, the partner working the job may experience feelings of guilt regarding being away from the home. They may feel frustrated and “left out” due to being unable to participate in particular events or family time. This worker also may experience increased stress, feelings of overwhelm, and even irritability due to inconsistent sleep patterns combined with other emotions.
On the other hand, the other partner with more regular hours may experience feelings of loneliness. If there are children or others to be cared for in the home, this partner may feel a greater sense of responsibility and accountability. These feelings may lead to resentment and frustration.
Shift work may not be the ideal way of working or living, but it may be necessary to make ends meet or to keep employment. However, even with all of the negative things stated, there is hope.
If you and your partner work different shifts, there are ways to ensure you still maintain a happy and healthy relationship. Consider the following tips:
- Call or text during breaks.This simple gesture will keep communication open throughout the day. If possible, try to keep the conversations light. Avoid talking about things that require more time than you have or that could create negative feelings.
- Remember, quality is better than quantity.You and your partner may not have tons of time to spend together, but you can make the most of the time you have. Set a date or plan a fun activity during your next available time together and make the most out of whatever you do.
- Leave little reminders of your love.Little reminders can come in the form of a note or a simple gift. Leave your partner items in surprising places such as the car, the bathroom, or even the fridge. This will let your partner know that you are thinking of them and leave them thinking of you as well. If you’re not really into notes or don’t have time or moneyfor small gifts, consider completing a chore for your partner. This will show that you are considerate of his or her feelings and willing to pitch in to help in any way you can.
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