Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Can Shift Work Cause a Rift in a Marriage?

Differing Schedules Are a Problem
Marriages in today’s face paced world are often characterized by too much distance and a lack of communication. This is especially true of two career couples working different shifts. Couples with different schedules have some very real obstacles to overcome. They must find unique ways to make frequent and meaningful contact with each other.
The Problems with Shift Work
Shift work, itself is a problem. One in four employees work irregular or rotating shifts. Many of these suffer from fatigue, lack of sleep, difficulty in concentrating on the job and even depression. Research indicates that shift workers have a higher than normal incidence of heart disease, digestive ailments, emotional problems and sleep disorders.  They also have a 25% higher divorce rate. 
According to sleep experts, those who work at night average one or two hours less sleep each day during the week and three or four hours less sleep on the weekend. They try to get the sleep they need while other family members are up and about. Even in the most considerate of households this is difficult. Young children cannot be kept quiet all day Saturday and Sunday. A day time sleeper may be awakened by the telephone, a neighbor’s lawn mower, nearby construction, and so forth.
Shift workers who sleep during the day feel left out of many normal activities. Yet if they try to participate in social and family events they give up needed sleep. Those who work second shift have the problem of missing many evening social affairs and have little time with their children and their friends. 
Wives of shift workers are left to handle many of the day-to-day affairs of the family, and they must spend many evening, night and weekend hours alone. The comfort of sleeping together is also missing for both partners. 
Finding Solutions
Recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it. Just being aware of the issues will help both partners figure out their unique solutions. It’s essential you make your relationship a priority during the time you’re both off work. The spouse who works days might nap during the evening in order to spend some time with the second shift partner when he or she comes home. Similarly, the person who works nights might occasionally stay up for an hour or so in the morning in order to be with his or her partner. Welcome home hugs and good-bye kisses will help. Phone calls, emails and thoughtful notes to each other can also bridge the communication and affection gap.

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.” Ecclesiastes 9:9

Blessings, Dottie

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