Can ‘Oilfield’ Marriages Work?

Did you know that in the Alberta – a province in Canada – has the highest divorce rate in the country? There’s no denying that this staggering statistic is related in some way to the oilfield industry.

The demands of the oilfields are taking a toll on families as one spouse works while the other manages the home, the kids and their own careers.

Although the oilfield industry is a male-dominated field, more women are entering into this equation. These women are also leaving their families behind in order to pursue an oilfield career.

But can an oilfield marriage work? Not all are doomed to fail but there’s no doubt this type of relationships takes more work than the average marriage.

Why Do Oilfield Marriages Fail?

Besides the obvious reason that oilfield marriages fail due to the absence of one spouse, there are other factors that come into play as well.

For instance, families tend to mismanage finances when one spouse works in the oilfield. This is often due to the fact that money comes in very fast and is spent irresponsibly by one or both parties. This sort of financial tension can easily cause a divide in a marriage.

The spouse at home may also have suspicions about the other spouse’s separate life. Men and women who work in the oilfield often stay in camps or share accommodations with other workers. Therefore, it is easy for them to develop close friendships that may give their spouse a cause for suspicion.

Resentment can also easily build when one spouse works away and other is left to manage the household. Couples will often compete to see who has it more “rough” – the one doing the physical labor in the oilfield or the one taking care of the home and family.

Oftentimes, having one spouse who works in the oil fields means that the spouse at home has to forego their chosen career in order to find employment hours that accommodate daycare hours.

The Impact of Oilfield Work on Families

Having a spouse who works away from home for extended periods of time can be lonely for both individuals. The spouse in the oilfield feels the negative effects of being apart from his or her family and the spouse at home feel unsupported and exhausted.

The spouse at home often has no time off from family and home responsibilities as well as their day-to-day job. This can create at atmosphere of stress and overwhelm.

When it comes to the kids, they are usually too young to comprehend the absence of their other parent – they simply know that they are gone. And, because small children have no concept of time, a few weeks can seem like forever.

It can be difficult to help children understand that their absent parent is still a very important part of their lives.

Keeping an Oilfield Marriage Strong

Thankfully, understanding the detrimental effects of an oilfield marriage is the first step in strengthening the relationship and making it work.

Here are some tips for keeping an oilfield marriage strong:

  • Don’t be resentful. Remember that the oilfield spouse isn’t going on vacation – they are working hard, too.
  • Maximize your time together. When the oilfield spouse is home, be sure to balance fun family activities with settling into normal home routines. The time home doesn’t have to be a constant celebration. Down time is important as well.
  • Find appropriate outlets for stress. Don’t take it out on each other. Find other ways to relieve stress such as journaling, exercising or even talking to a mental health professional.
  • Be a team. Support and cheer for each other as you continue to making decisions together. Set family goals as a team and work toward them together.

With effort and understanding, oilfield marriages can work. Just because the statistics support the idea that oilfield marriages do not work, doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules with your own marriage by keeping it strong, open and loving.

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