Surviving Separate Work Shifts

In 10 years of wedded bliss, hubby and I have been on similar schedules for exactly 3 of them. He works in T.V and after a buyout, his schedule became ridiculous. We’ve had two children in that 10 years and between our changing schedules, we’ve learned a few things. We’ve had a lot of arguments, but we’ve learned in the process. We’re not the divorcing type; so if there’s something to work out, by gosh, we’re going to figure that mess out. We’ve had to become far more intentional about how we spend those precious hours as a family.  

Surviving Separate Work Shifts

The person who really gets the shaft is our oldest daughter. She’s in first grade and when dad works second shift there are days where she doesn’t see him at all. That’s hard on all of us! She’s a daddy’s girl at heart so when they’re able to steal a few moments together for one of their pajama-donut-runs (they have a song and everything), build with Legos, or play a game; they take it. He’s gotten really good at being present and she’s gotten good at being patient.

One night, hubs came home at 7:00 and it was like Christmas.  I was in another room and heard what sounded like a rousing game of Twister going on in the living room.

We don’t have Twister.

These two had spread every coat, backpack, and sweater we owned in the living room and were playing a delightful game of hillbilly-Twister. He was being so hilariously intentional. If we still want to know each other’s names in 10 years, we have to get intentional.

We’re in this weird season of life where our marriage is on auto-pilot at times. If we don’t take what little time there is to really connect with one another, things get ugly. Kids, jobs, activities, responsibilities, and all the stuff of life fights for our attention and we give into what’s urgent at the expense of what’s important.

Here’s what helps us survive separate work shifts:

1. Daily Communication

Even if it’s a quick text or phone call on his way to work, it helps me feel connected when we’re able to chat for a few. If you’re the journaling type, a journal of love notes to each other can be an option as well.

2. Schedule Intimacy

Yes, even that kind. Date nights don’t come naturally, so scheduling time to talk, share, and remember why we married each other are so vital to our relationship. A few weeks ago, we literally drove to the Denny’s in What Cheer, IA on a date because we had 45 blissful minutes each way with no interruptions to just talk. Oh, and pancakes. ‘Cause pancakes.

3. Make sure conflicts are worth your time together.

I tend to be the nagger in our relationship and there are times I have to remind myself that where the man leaves his socks is not a matter of life or death. However, being considerate of the work the other spouse does when they’re holding down the fort themselves goes a long way. There are times I’m shocked everyone makes it out alive!  

4. Speak your partner’s love language.

If you’ve heard of the old book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you know how important it is to know how you receive love, how you show love as well as your partner’s reception/expression of love. My love language is “acts of service.”  Nothing makes me feel more loved than coming home to see the dishes done or the house picked up. Because it means that hubs took the time he could have been sleeping to speak my language. His love language is “words of affirmation.”  When I tell him how proud I am of him, what he means to me and our girls, and how much I appreciate and respect him, he gets a spring in his step. We often rely on our love languages to speak for us those days when we are ships passing in the night.

Relationships, parenting, and “adulting” are hard enough on their own. Add the variable of not seeing your partner to do said adulting together, and you either go the way of ships passing in the night, or partners on an adventure. 

Or pirates.

It’s ok to be pirates. I don’t judge.


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Missy is an Arizona native who migrated to Iowa on a whim and fell in love. She is a social worker by profession but stepped away from her career to be a pseudo-SAHM to her two girls: 8 year-old Selah and 2 year-old Mercy. She has been married for 10 wonderful years to her TV man husband, Andy, and Bo, the black lab pound puppy completes their family. Most days you’ll find Missy working part-time at a local non-profit, leading worship, and chasing after her children. In her spare time, she enjoys writing/composing music, connecting with other women who are also in the trenches of life, and finding time to get to the giant pile of laundry in the basement. Missy loves a good laugh, crime documentaries, coffee, and naps. She also writes about overcoming strongholds on her blog: Inching Toward Freedom