Shift Jobs and Marriage: How You Will be Affected

Stressed Out Businesswoman Working Late at Shift Job

Chances are every time a work schedule requires any of the couples to work across the night the attitude of the partner left at home turns really sour. Shift work does affect a family and marriage. However, this is not unique to any one individual since medical caregivers, service industry workers, fire-fighters, production workers and taxi drivers, among others, are affected. In essence, it puts a lot of stress on any marriage, especially for a new couple that has no such prior experience.

It's possible for a schedule to change, so many times in the course of a marriage. The affected individual could work overnights, evenings and days for weeks on end and even switch between evenings and days. In a single day, the breadwinner (husband or wife) could work both night and day for 12 hours in a single week. At times a person can be called to work consistently on overtime on a 12-hour shift. In such scenarios, shift changes bring forth serious obstacles in any marriage.

Be proactive

You have to be as proactive as you can. Practical strategies need to be used to improve the relationship and you do not have to develop such strategies via a trial and error way; there are many ways this can be done. Of importance is to realize you are not the only couple suffering from a changing shift or the absence of a spouse at night. It's not a unique issue to anyone and since the reason for working in such a scenario might be very critical to your happiness, providence and sustenance, finding a way out that works for both of you while strengthening your union is important.

That way, you will definitely maintain a working and healthy marriage full of understanding and capable of countering the effects that follow an erratic schedule through a number of areas.

Planned time for both of you

Shift jobs as mentioned take a toll on the couple and could strain a marriage if they go unchecked. Many marriage counselors recommend a couple with such a problem to come up with consistent date nights to ensure the marriage remains warm and healthy. However, a shift job makes it hard for a regularly planned time for the man and woman. Shift work has a way of ruining dates that have been planned. Sometimes, the shift worker is so tired on that day drowsiness takes over and the date is postponed or forgotten.

As such, while planning a date, the shift the man or woman will be working in has to be considered, level of fatigue on that day and the shift he/she will be working the following day. Afternoon rides on a motorbike, lunches or breakfasts usually make a lot of sense for shift workers than an activity planned for the evening.

Refrain from certain activities

Most women or men whose spouses work on night shifts have realized that building solid marriages requires they stop engaging in activities that keep them away from their families, especially those that can be avoided. When the shift working partner is at home, it makes perfect sense for the other partner to refrain from engaging in volunteer programs, classes and committee meetings that meet on a weekly basis. Even the time used to serve in church programs can be reduced while delaying celebrations on holidays by a couple of days or hours. This allows the couple to celebrate and be together during such times.

Planned time for kids

Shift workers also miss the opportunity of being with their children as much as they would want. In most cases, they arrive just after kids have left for school or when they are asleep. Sometimes sleep and too much fatigue limit their involvement with their kids. In such circumstances, children think their parents do not want to be around them and usually feel ignored and left out in the lives of their parents; a tired parent probably wants to be alone as much as possible after arriving from work and kids feel they are the reason, yet it was the job schedule.

If shift working couples are to build a good relationship with their kids, both parents have to find time to be with the children. If the children are young, it makes perfect sense for the shift working parent to attend their concerts and plays, whether he or she has a night shift waiting up. In case the shift is at night or evening, taking kids for breakfast or lunch at least once a week will be useful in cementing the relationship between the parent and children.

Communicate day and night

Working on a shift job, whether it's both or one of you doesn't mean communication will be strained and absent. Learn to text one another while on breaks and talk about all manner of things taking place at the workplace, little, insignificant or major. Communicate and share what each one of you is going through all day long, whether you are tired, sad, joyous, hurt or happy.

Since you are not seeing one another most of the time, the little time you are together must always be a time of fun with zero stress. The bad stuff can wait for another time and doesn't have to be shared at such a time when you need to be together. You can also find a way of sharing the bad stuff or indicating how tired you really are without really blaming her or him.

Fill your partner in on the main items

Shift jobs do not remove the responsibility that comes with a marriage such as taking kids to the dentist or a meeting with the head teacher in your kids' school. Find a notebook and note all those important details from picking a gift for his dad's birthday, upcoming get together, parents-teacher meeting and virtually everything. When the shift working partner is free she/he will read everything and even leave similar information on what she/he did about the situations.

Love notes do not die after marriage and you can leave some for your number one love and let him/her know how much you miss being together and your love for him/her is eternal, particularly if both of you work on night or different shifts.

Above all, working on a shift, as much as your partner understands could take a toll on your marriage. Even as you find ways to mitigate your absence and maximize on the little time you have together perhaps you can be applying for another job that does not come with such an erratic schedule.

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  1. Been working nights over a year now. Depressed, stressed,and can't get my wife to understand how I feel. So so tired all the time, but no willing to throw in the towel. I'll just keep passing through life!

  2. This article would be great if both parties were to take time to read it. In my case my almost 30yrs of marriage won't last much longer.

    Night shift for 3 years now is the enemy. I've been left out of everything now. Being ignored for any and all family activities (1 teenager).

    When I would ask/beg to be 'informed' even record my wifes and daughters conversation and email it to me they again would ignore this request. My wife is letting my daughter do anything she wants now with her boyfriend, even picking him up after his school lets out, (taxi service) and staying at his house until 10pm every night now for 5 months straight. She has the car too anytime.

    I am loosing sleep (4-5hrs per night). Health is lowering. Just making sure my will is all secured. Time off I have they still ignore me.

    I cannot instill discipline into the home now. I have lost that right I guess with this schedule. It's not worth it. I have no family now. No wife because she only needs me to get to work every night. My daughter doesn't need a father to "lecture her" as she put it. No respect. I guess this is the plan of being a parent.

    I won't be able to survive another year like this. It's sad really because any chance I try to make an effort to be with the 'family' I get humiliated saying I'm grumpy due to when I wake up it's when they are trying to wind down from the day so it all clashes.

    I always thought marriage can last if both parties wants it to. Caring will never last if one person believes in it and the other does not. Night shifts are fine for single people but for raising kids and keeping a marriage to last it's a killer.

    My family has betrayed me time and time again. I now am forced to have to look forward to the single life and the little positive things it has to offer, forcing me to me more of a hermit and seeking refuge away from people.

    • Hi Jim. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry to hear the night shift is grinding you down to such an extent. Have you thought about putting your thoughts into a letter directed at your family?

  3. My husband worked every day from 10am to 10pm except Sundays and Mondays until I got pregnancy with my second child. Always on weekendshe is a chef. It created resentment because I had a burnout after breastfeeding my second child with no one to help me nap and when I asked if he could try to change jobs so we could have the weekends together he freaked out. He was always tired and grumpy and not sweet to me, so it killed our sec life.

    During the week I am tired I worked full times with two young children depriving my sleep, and he works long shifts always tired, never there in we weekend so no couple time. He complained about sex.Eventually he became so angry that I wanted him to change jobs that he became violent and asked me for a divorce. That is what these kind of jobs to do to a person.

  4. I am in same situation we both are in shift work and my husband works 4 pm till midnight. My shift is always changing. My toddler day care ends at 6. We both are with same employer but our employer says its in contract live with it. We are new immigrants we need this job bit cant throw away my kid for tgis… why so called humanitarian employers do not understand their employees as humans with family and relationships

  5. I am going through this as well. Our "turmoil" was being a interracial couple–which didn't sit well with some family members. He left his job–which paid well, but was greater than an hour from home. He finally landed a gig he likes, but it's on night shift. I outearn him by quite a bit, so I pay the lion's share of bills. We bought a new house and we upgraded our vehicles. We've only been married 7 months, andit's just overwhelming. I feel alone in my marriage.

    I don't know what to do, but I certainly hope you were able to turn your marriage around. I would love to tell my husband to find another shift or another job, but then hell just resent me for it.

    There are certainly no easy solutions.

  6. All of these suggestions are needed to keep relationships in a family strong, but in some opposite schedules there are so few minutes together that even applying one of these is unrealistic. Please provide research based solutions for families with less than 15 waking hours per week that also meet the other demands of raising a family, like attending children's events.

    • Hi fed up with ineffective ideas,
      I completely understand what you are saying. Sometimes these suggestions sound great in theory but harder to put into practice.

      My husband has been a shift worker for over 20 years and we have two daughters ages 10 and 13. He works a 12 hour rotating shift and doesn't sleep well at night let alone when he has to sleep during the day.

      I'm blessed to be a stay at home mom so we are at least able to spend time together when he is on night shift and the girls are at school. Sometimes we will have a quick lunch date together but most of the time we relax and watch a favorite show together before he has to leave for work.

      Before the kids, though, I worked regular day hours and we didn't get to see each much when he was working nights. It was hard. Plain and simple it was just hard. Sometimes we were able to have lunch together but mostly we just didn't see each other much while he was on nights.

      When it comes to the girls, they see Dad for a few minutes in the morning when he gets home and before he goes to bed then at night we FaceTime before bed. It's not the same as being with him in person but they still have fun with it and are able to connect and tell Daddy about their day.

      In terms of their special events, sometimes he can be there and sometimes he can't. That's really hard too but he spends as much time with us as possible when he is on day shift and when he is off. Yes he is tired most of the time but even if it's just spending time together at home watching a movie (which he usually sleeps through) it is still time together.

      No one ever truly gets adjusted to shift work and there isn't one perfect solution. We just have to keep working to find out what works for us and that usually changes as life changes. The most important thing is loving each other, communicating, and forgiving each other when tiredness, frustration and moodiness gets the best of one, both or the entire family.

      Its never going to be perfect and, unfortunately, it's never going to be easy-peasy. Keep working to find the little things that work for you and don't focus on making it perfect, just love each other through all of the imperfections and hardships of life with a shift worker.

  7. I’m a guy actually going through the same thing my wife goes to work at 10 till 6:30 am which sounded cool at first but, due to me working on my business all day and her about to get her real estate license but stopping to work a temp job didn’t pan out as I thought it would. She recently almost gave up on getting her real estate license due to stress with people calling out, and her wanting overtime for bills… I recently talked to her about her dreams and goals and then is when I think she understood that to make a opportunity temporary you actually have to still invest into the bigger dream. In our case it is owning our own real estate business

  8. I used to be in a marriage and now I am in a business partnership. I don’t see my husband except Saturday and sundays. My hours are 8 to 4:30 Monday through Friday but I work an hour away. His hours are Monday through Friday 5pm to 2am. I am beyond lonely and we don’t even talk any more. Our weekends has to be about the kids cause he never sees the two oldest ones. If we go anywhere I have to drive cause he is too tired and I never catch a break cause he is exhausted. I honestly need help!

  9. My husband and I got married early this year amongst a lot of turmoil. We were thrust into responsibility with his mother (who was one of our closest relatives, I honestly loved her like a second mom) becoming mentally incapacitated and losing her battle to cancer in our care most of the time, two brand new opposite shift jobs, and now our first pregnancy. We are stressed, and it's starting to take a toll on our relationship.

    This was his first big break for a job, midnight to 9 am, and mine was swing anywhere from 7am to 10pm. I want to like this article, but truth be told, it's a lot harder in reality. We both are full time, make the same amount, which keeps us solidly middle class, with a mortgage to pay. The trouble with this article is easier said than done.

    We both love and care for each other, and we had a very solid and stable relationship before the shift swings. I never would have dreamed I'd be up googling trying to figure out where we went wrong this year. The loneliness eats at me and 5 days a week I find myself sitting on the couch silently on my phone for 4 hours waiting for him to wake up, which eventually angers me.

    He is a very light sleeper which makes it worse. I'd normally have windows open, lights on, music, etc to keep myself occupied but his sleep schedule is erratic. He sleeps 2-3 hours at a time, gets up for 45 minutes. Sleeps some more, tosses and turns, so by the time all is said and done, I don't see him at all during the week due to him sleeping, or vainly attempting to. We don't even get 2-3 hours a day to see each other. I say hi and bye on Sunday around 3 or 4, and see him again Friday night when I get home from work, although typically he'll sleep most of Friday night into Saturday and Saturday night as well.

    We arrange plans to see our friends on Saturday night, our only night out. And that's the only day we get to run around and take care of our regular errands. I'm at a loss trying to figure out how to be happy being married one day a week. Being pregnant amplifies it because I don't sleep, and I'm constantly emotional about it wondering if we're just set up to fail. Any advice is appreciated. We attempted the Friday night date night, it fell short after two weeks due to sleep.

    • I feel the same. I feel like I’m only married 1 day a week. My husband has 2 boys from a previous marriage. I can’t stand when they are here because there is always an argument or tension when they are here. And when they aren’t here he sleeps most of the day. I do all the shopping, dishes, take care of the animals. I raise his 2 boys when they are with us for a full week every other week. My husband works Sunday’s -Thursday’s ; leaves @ 6:30pm and sometimes doesn’t get home till 6:00am. I hate this life! I’ve been with him almost 12 years with this schedule and married 11 years in July 2020.

    • I'm going through the same thing, Except I'm not pregnant. How should I get pregnant it feels like we're in different time zones. I'm heartbroken, lonely, and angry. I see your post is years old, so I hope your situation has resolved itself? I've just starting googling and looking for advice :/

      • I'm in the same situation. We are not married we are just dating and living together. He started this job 6 weeks ago works night shifts arriving in the mornings at home. All he does is sleep. We don't talk anymore, he don't kiss me goodbye when he leaves for work in the afternoon. I can feel my love for him is diminishing slowly and slowly.

  10. Great article. A spouse or family member that really cares about their family will make it work. Regardless. There is hope! My husband and I both worked rotating shifts. I rotating days and he works rotating days and nights. When I got it a 12 hour shift, I went to church sometimes. He's gotten off a 12 hour hard labor shift and taken me on a breakfast​ date with our Newborn. If you're willing, it can be done. You do for the ones you love.

  11. Have read your article, I am living this scenario now, not good! With respect for you and your input starting this thread, I have to say that your solutions to making things easier is just smoke and mirrors, nothing can replace a committed family that invests in being present in each others lives to be there for each other, it is the regular daily good quality times that create the glue that makes a family whole.

    What employers aren't paying the shift worker for is the time that is sadly missing to the families. You can't be present with a partner that is sleep deprived and feeling distant from his family, the errors created in communication by the partner because he doesn't have the same vested interest in his family because that takes energy he doesn't have to give.

    Shift work is draining emotionally and anyone who wants to keep their family together should not have a career that involves shift work.

    • Not smoke and mirrors. Its serious advice for committed couples who will take the time to explore these ideas. This is not a solve all. Some couples just wont make it period. For whatever reasons. As far as time and reality, well reality is people need to make the most quality of the time they do with their SO and children. Its not quantity, its how we kive and sjiw the workd when we get limited oppurtunity. (although their is an argumement for quality on a daily basis but we need to work with life situations). I do agree pay more for shift workers or find ways to get them QT with their families :)

      • One parent works day shift, one parent works nights, less daycare…Win, win! What are you whining about? You want to make money? Make it work.

      • I've been with my wife for 27 years. She has worked swing or night shift for the last 25. Angie is 100% correct. 3 to 4 days a week I have been and am a single parent. Nothing makes up for the empty bed. Nothing makes up for your kids feeling along.

        My 19 year told me recently, "Mom just wasn't there dad." My 27 year old, "You were always there, but mom was gone." They both love their mom, and she is a good mother when she was home.

        I will say it this way. After a certain period of time, working nights and swing is a choice. It's when you feel like the person isn't making the right choice, that it becomes unforgivable. I made it 25 years and when I look back, I look back at a pretty lonely, empty life.

        • Dam, that sucks bro. I started working nights two years ago since my kids are grown now. I'm wife was working nights too but now she's about to go back to school during the day. Since I came to nights/NOC I realized I love it. It works for me. But I ended up on this tread because I know I have to make a choice too, as to weather I'm going to stay on NOC's are go back to days so I can be on the same schedule as my wife?

          I was kinda torn about it but sadly after reading your text. I know now what I must do and although it's not the easiest choice or the one I really want. I think it's best if I go back to days. Sorry to hear about your situation, but you sharing is helping others. I know your daughters have been truly blessed, and God sees your loyalty 🙏 May God bless you and continue to strengthen you as you have others with your story.

    • I’ve been with my boyfriend almost 5 years and we have a 2 year old. I’m not sure how to fully understand his schedule when he works 3rd, I’ve been trying to be more understanding including that he has bills to pay and I’ve offered to help.

      He’s been working third shift for only 2 months now so still kinda new and I work 2nd part-time. When he gets Home I’m sleeping when he’s sleeping I’m at work or home. I’ll even lay with him while he’s sleeping just to spend any time I can with him possible but it’s really taking a toll on our relationship I feel it.

      He works 6 days a week and does overtime which is like from 6am-6pm or 10pm-10am. We barely get to spend any time together and if so it’s usually 1hour the most a day I also can tell my son misses his dad.

      We don’t even have any date nights anymore I’m not sure if it’s me or him but I feel like he’s isolating himself to be at work and doesn’t make any family time or couple time with me and my son.

      I need advice what do I do should I apply where he works? Should I try to be more understanding and opening to it? Please give me some type of advice I’m open ears.

    • Thank you for your comment! I agree 100% to what you have wrote. He says he went to 3rds for me but I feel differently and actions speak louder than words. He is not taking my concerns (most of what you have written) into consideration bc it works for him NOT me.

      I think he did it to find less time with me but giving him more time with his kids (they're not mine). It has added more stress to our relationship and he fails to see that I'm ready to walk away…

    • I totally agree with you. My gas and gas worked shift work for 30 years. I basically raised our 3 children alone. They’re adults now and they will tell you dust hand, they suffered by a father who simply was not present when needed the most.

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