My partner and I have lived together for five years but he works on a rotation. This means that he’s only at home for five weeks every five weeks and to be honest, I’ve gotten pretty used to it. In fact, I actually prefer things this way.
It gives us time to miss each other like crazy. After many years together, it can be easy to forget what it feels like to miss each other’s company. With his work schedule as it is, we never forget and we always have that chance to miss each other. While it feels awful every time he’s leaving, I think it’s really healthy. I would hate to not miss my partner because I’m so desperate for time alone. Him being away is a constant reminder of how strong our love is.
I get space and time to myself. I enjoy my own company and alone time is something I truly need to recharge. It keeps me feeling independent and ensures I don’t get too dependent on my partner. He’s not here to do the stereotypical man jobs like moving heavy boxes down to the cellar or figuring out the mess of cables behind the television when it stops working. I’ve had to learn to do those things by myself. While unscrewing the U-bend in the sink because of a blockage and disposing of dead mice bodies after an infestation probably doesn’t sound like much, to me they’re true achievements I wouldn’t want to live without.
I can really focus on my work when he’s not here. For the five weeks that he’s not at home, I throw myself into my job and work as much as possible. I’m a full-time freelancer so it’s up to me to work as hard as I can to earn my keep. There’s no such thing as paid sick days and if I don’t work enough, I won’t make enough money. Obviously I want to be freer in the evenings when he is here, so I work like crazy when I’m alone so I can take some time off to be with him when I’m not.
When he’s here, we really make the most of it. We don’t fall into the mundane routine of work and life, we try to make every moment count because five weeks pass quicker than you imagine. We don’t waste time feeling tired and bored, we go out and do things together. Being expats, we can go and visit tourist spots, reminding ourselves what our city has to offer. When we do actually stay in and binge watch Netflix, it feels special because we don’t get to do it often.
We get to travel a lot. My boyfriend gets paid more when he’s away and because he’s stuck on a ship with everything paid for, he comes home with his money burning a hole in his pocket. He still has to work in the office when he’s at home, but he always takes a week off so we can go traveling. Whether that’s just taking off to a different part of France or leaving the country, it’s great to be able to up and leave at the drop of a hat.
Of course, there are some downsides. He really hates being away as his job becomes more demanding, often requiring him to work 18-hour shifts and answer phone calls in the middle of the night. He works extremely hard, so it’s difficult for him to switch off when he comes home. Life sort of stops for him when he’s away and work is the only thing he has to be concerned with. For me, the world doesn’t stop turning. He misses out on our friends’ and families’ birthday celebrations, important events I’d really like him by my side for, and worst of all, if there’s bad news, he has to hear it on the phone, knowing he’s stuck in the middle of the ocean, unable to help.
He also needs his own space but our time together is limited. He obviously wants to see his friends when he comes home, but it makes me super jealous and a little annoyed if I’m honest. Our time together always passes so quickly and while I know it’s only normal, it’s frustrating for me to have to share that time with other people.
Our unique situation might change and I’m concerned. If we want to move forward in our relationship and have more stability, he really needs to stop his offshore work. I can’t raise babies by myself part-time and he shouldn’t be away from the kids for so long so often. We’ve discussed that once his current project is finished, he’ll try to get a permanent position in the office. I’m worried there will be a transition period where we have to learn to be around each other all the time, and that could be very hard to adjust to.
It’ll be a test of our strength. No matter what happens, it’ll be a true test to the strength of our relationship, and while it’ll be hard I’m sure, I know we’ll come out the other side more resilient than ever.
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