How to Thrive As A ‘Single Wife’ (FIFO, DIDO, ex-pat)
Even before the excitement of the extra income from a FIFO job cools, it’s crucial to pay close attention otherwise you could lose your marriage as well as your business, cautions Mindset Coach and Healer Sue Lester.
An increasing number of women are finding themselves in the ‘single wife’ role as their partners accept fly in fly out (FIFO), drive in drive out (DIDO) or positions based overseas. Although, unlike divorcees and widows, your partner is suddenly earning much more than before, and does come home, like them, you’ll spend the majority of your daily life now as a single mother. Your tag-team physical support has gone, there’s no one to gang up with against the kids and no one to cuddle up to at night. If your expectations are not clarified and ground rules put in place from the very start, you could easily and painfully lose both your business and your marriage.
Things to Consider Before
A great tool to examine the pros and cons, and reveal any fears or misconceptions, is Cartesian Logic. These deceptively simple four questions, when answered in the context of each area of your life, will give a full picture of the consequences, both positive and negative.
- What will happen if I do (e.g. accept the job)?
- What will happen if I don’t?
- What won’t happen if I do?
- What won’t happen if I don’t?
It’s crucial you are both open and honest about your concerns and fears, as well as expectations. Expectations on exactly what ‘regular contact’ means, decision making, bill paying, holidays, fidelity, time span, your time commitment to your business, and what happens the first day he is home (you immediately disappearing with a martini in hand is probably not his ideal after 4 weeks of 12 hour shifts 7 days a week). Write it all down, including contact details for all essential services, professional services, passwords, birthdays, and significant dates. Ensure your wills are both up to date, as well as your Enduring Powers of Attorney, and life insurance.
Brainstorm together on your support network, in terms of who can you share childcare with, who can cover when you are sick, plus the need for a cleaner, yard maintenance, pool service and bookkeeper. Where (not how) will you fit in self-care including exercise, socialising and relaxation?
Systems are crucial for keeping both your household and your business running smoothly as you will have more responsibilities to fit in. The more organised you are, the more in control you’ll feel, the more resilience you’ll have on THOSE days. Invest in a personal coach to keep you focussed, supported and sane, with a safe, non-judgemental space to really be honest.
What are your expectations on the length of commitment to this lifestyle? If it is not “for life”, then it is crucial your spending doesn’t expand to match your increased income, otherwise you will never be able to afford to stop. This is the trap so many fall into, so I’ll say it again. If it is not “for life”, then it is crucial your spending doesn’t expand to match your increased income, otherwise you will never be able to afford to stop.
Things to Consider During
Help your children to adjust by saying “Daddy is at work” rather than “Daddy has gone away”. Using ‘at work’ reassures and reminds them (& you) there is a purpose for his absence, and it is only temporary. Have maps and photos showing Daddy ‘at work’. Each child keeping a diary of drawings, photos and anecdotes is a great way of keeping them emotionally connected, ensures they have something to talk about on Skype, and helps their father feel included in daily life.
Keep your mutually agreed house and behaviour rules consistent whether your partner is home or not. Be very wary of allowing children to sleep with you as that will disrupt the routine and adjustment (and kill your love life) when their father returns and ‘kicks them out’. Never link punishment to their father’s return. It stifles their relationship renewal, and makes you appear weak, and only second in charge. Some teenagers will take advantage of this.
Remember, on those rough days when you’re feeling exhausted, lonely and resentful, it is your choice to live this lifestyle. Remind yourself of all the benefits, look for the little moments of daily happiness, know he is coming home again, and do something nice for yourself (like putting work aside and going to bed when the kids do, emailing your personal coach). Be aware of comfort eating, drinking and sex, and find alternative ways to get rid of the ‘empty’ feeling. Refocus on your savings plan so there can be an end in sight.
Expect everyone will have an opinion on your new choice of lifestyle. They are entitled to their opinions. It doesn’t make them right or wrong. Remember it is your life so you do not need to justify it to anyone.
Remember, asking for help is sensible, not weak. You can make it the best lifestyle choice for your whole family, with planning, support and the right mindset.