Hello friends and welcome back to the blog!
I scooped this piece up from the archives and almost forgot to post it today because I've been busy working on tomorrow's blog! Tsk tsk, I know. We cannot sacrifice good blog work for videos! No worries though, because better late than never right!?
For a bit of context, my husband is a Law Enforcement Officer. To save time explaining his schedule, I'll just say that it's really weird hours, and a lot of hours. I think we look at each other at least once a day and say something like "is today a Friday? It feels like a Tuesday..."
I know a lot of you guys are dealing with spouses or partners who also work weird hours, have the third shift, travel for work, or are deployed for military service. Those circumstances can make it difficult to connect with your partner or even be happy in your life, so I wanted to offer up some suggestions on what I have done to cope with these challenges.
1. Find out one another's love languages, ASAP
Love Languages make the relationship world go round. Know thyself and know thy partner. Love Languages are like a life hack for your relationship: a shortcut for getting maximum effect from minimal time/energy. Don't waste time mucking about trying to please your partner through a language that doesn't speak to them!
I couldn't care less if my husband ever touched another dirty dish for his whole life: as long as he spends a bit of time listening and talking with me, I'm a happy clam. Find out your Love Language: HERE.
2. Enjoy rituals instead of routine
We don't have a routine: bedtimes, dinnertimes, and wake up times are constantly changing. This could drive some people mad, but we have found a way around it: if you can't have a routine, have RITUALS. We drink coffee together, watch TV shows, talk on the phone daily, and sit down for all our meals.
These rituals brings a sense of continuity and structure to an otherwise unstructured lifestyle. It doesn't matter WHEN these activities are happening, so much that they happen in the same rhythm.
3. Learn to go with the flow
When I was in college, my husband's "Saturday Night" would be a Tuesday evening. He'd be ready to relax and let loose, but I was in the middle of my school week! This was when I had to adapt and learn how to just go with the flow.
If he wanted to get drinks or hang out with friends, I would go out and have fun, even with class the next day. Don't prevent your partner from having fun on their "weekend," or letting them rest when they need to. Have pancakes for dinner, sleep in on a Sunday, or go to a restaurant on a Tuesday. Whatever your partner needs!
4. Learn to enjoy alone time
After 3 years of odd work hours, I finally feel like an expert. The key to enjoying alone time changing your perspective: view it as a treat!
I always try to do things that I wouldn't normally do if my husband was around. I walk the dog, watch movies that he wouldn't be interested in, hang out with friends, and run errands. I've taken up sewing, cooking, baking, and blogging too! I get the chores done, go thrift shopping, and have spa nights. I volunteer for things in my church, host bible studies, and connect on Instagram!
5. Find supportive friends
This is big. I think in any relationship, it's easy to get swept up in your partner, but we all need community. It's important to have good friends to support you and spend time with you when your partner is busy with their work and life. Don't depend on your friends for emotional support over your partner, but DO let them support you supplementally.
6. See the perks of your weird situation
For as many downsides as weird schedules have, I believe that there are an equal amount of upsides! We love going on vacations in the middle of the week and avoiding the crowds. We wouldn't be able to do this if he had a traditional work schedule, and we LOVE it! I love the fact that his work schedule has forced me to grow my independence. I've been able to explore so many things that I would't be able to if I never had alone time.
7. Make friends with couples who also have weird schedules
You can't always force this, but when they come your way, do not take these people for granted! It's so nice to have semi-matching schedules with other couples and to have other people who understand what you're going through! Lean on these people, rant together, joke together, and have community. Having friends as a couple is a great way to have fun with your partner. See my guide on finding friends HERE.
8. Avoid resenting your partner
Now my precious people: when you are sitting at home while your spouse is at work, your friends are on dates, and everyone else is busy, do NOT turn to bitterness. To combat this, I try to focus on gratitude. I'm grateful that Hubby provides for us! I'm grateful he founds a job he loves, and I'm grateful for the time I have to focus on the things I love.
Also, ANY job can have its downsides. One of my friends used to date an accountant, and he had such LONG hours during tax season, it was like he was dead. And don't ever get starry eyed about dating a lawyer, a doctor, or an entrepreneur. Those people are even busier than our third shift hubbies! In short, don't compare your relationship.
9. Use technology to communicate
Technology is basically the ultimate life hack. Send pictures, sweet texts, and answer your phone calls from your partner. Hubby watches my instagram stories and I always check in to see how work is going for him. If you can't have your phone on during work, use your breaks wisely to check in with your partner, and spend part of your commute time connecting on the phone. It can drastically improve your relationship!
10. Get a pet
Finally, GET A PET. I absolutely did not want a dog when we first got married. I dragged my feet at first, but eventually gave in to my husband's dream of owning a German Shepherd, and of course, I fell in love! She keeps me company and makes me feel safer when I'm alone. She's got a scary bark, an intelligence that understands my moods, and a never ending excitement for my long daily walks.
I really hope you guys can try infusing some of these suggestions into your relationships. It's so difficult to feel alone and disconnected in your relationship because of work. It took me a long time to get the hang of this lifestyle, but I can say that now, I wouldn't change a single thing about it.