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How offshore work affects couple relationships

Tags: long distance relationship, offshore work, living apart together
Featured in Microsite: Couples Living Apart

Sometimes our jobs require us to work away from home for long periods of times.

Oil rig workers and members of the Royal Navy can spend weeks or months working off shore or abroad in order to provide for their families.

In the weeks or days leading up to the next offshore shift, the ‘left behind’ partner can feel increasingly worried about how these long periods of separation will affect the relationship.

‘My army boyfriend will be deployed abroad in August. I'm afraid he might not come back, that he might come back not wanting me, or I just might not be able to wait for him at all,‘ says one anonymous CoupleConnection user.

Both parties can experience bouts of loneliness during these times apart. However, keeping in touch can be made easier through the use of the internet. ‘My boyfriend got lonely in the beginning and he still does. It’s easier for me as being offshore is so artificial that it doesn't seem like I'm away for long,’ says Kenny, an oil rig worker from Edinburgh. ‘We keep in touch with each other on a daily basis via online text messaging, and we Skype quite regularly. We met online so this method just feels natural for us.’

Reunions can be just as hard as parting. When you are reunited, conflict can arise as the two of you have different ideas of how this time together should be spent.  ‘I spend two weeks offshore and two weeks at home. When I get back we argue a lot about how clean the house is.  I don’t always want to get straight into housework after working solid for two weeks without a day off. But when I do start cleaning, my girlfriend complains because she says that I should be spending my time with her,’ says CoupleConnection user Ryan.

Despite initial tensions, many couples manage to make the most of the time they have together.

Some take every opportunity to spend time with each other: ‘When I get back home, we love going to dinner and movies. I drive him to and from University – we do pretty much everything together to maximise the time we have,’ continues Kenny.

For more help and advice on how to cope with long distance relationships, visit our Couples  Living Apart microsite.



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