Night Shift Is Ruining My Marriage. How to Stop It Happening

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When I hear the words, “night shift is ruining my marriage” my heart just breaks. I have been in the position when my husband worked the permanent night shift schedule and I know how hard it can be. But I also know there are solutions which work to bring you back together.

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Please share and read the rest later

How to stop night shift ruining your marriage. If the night shift work situation is unchangeable, it all boils down to communication, setting rituals and treasuring the little things like leaving notes and squeezing in an extra 15 minutes together before a shift. But in the end, it takes both of you to keep the love alive and make positive changes.

I want you and your spouse to find that spark you had on your wedding day. Let’s explore how to get it back.

How to Stop Night Shift Ruining Your Marriage

How did this happen? How did we get to this point?

I know you might be feeling like strangers in your own home or like you are simply living with your college roommate at times, but all hope is not lost. 

I am a nurse working a rotating roster including both day shift (1st), afternoon (2nd) shift and also the often dreaded night shift (3rd) shift.

I have also been in the position of not only being a shift worker myself but also experiencing life as a shift working wife while my husband worked the permanent night shift from 10pm – 9am, 5 days a week. 

It was hard.

We both needed to get out of our own comfort zones in order to make it work. Was it easy? Not really, but we both didn’t want to throw away a relationship we knew was amazing, so we stuck at it and we are so much stronger now.

But the thing that really kept the love alive for us was these major points:

We were very open when something wasn’t right immediately

We very rarely “let things slide”, well the big stuff anyway, onto the next day and definitely not into the next week.

We addressed issues as they came up. This was huge for us and still is today.

We Set Rituals

And started to change the way we normally did things in order to make this new schedule work

For example, I love to exercise in the morning, but I changed my routine to workout in the afternoon so I could go with my husband.

Yes, we didn’t chat much at the gym, but we had the car ride too and from, plus a few sneaky winks during the gym session. In the end, a PM workout worked really well for me, and gave us an extra hour together we didn’t have before. 

Less Bickering About the Small Stuff

We both stopped caring so much about the small stuff which doesn’t really matter anyway.

Such as the varied techniques to vacuuming the house and hanging out the washing. Or, which way the fork should stand when packing the dishwasher.

We just “lightened up” in this area and it made a huge difference to our intimacy and overall relationship.

Concentrated on Being Kind

We stopped that tit-for-tat stuff and just started to be kind and more respectful of each other while having a laugh at the stuff we used to get annoyed about.

Good to know…
At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s keeping you together

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You can be this happy again. I know it.

But What Can You Do to Stop Night Shift Ruining Your Marriage?

Well, the way I see it, you’re either the one working night shift OR you are the wife or husband at home probably working a 9-5 job or something very similar, right?

Regardless of where you sit, I’m assuming you both want to bring back the love, passion and intimacy or else you wouldn’t be in this position?

This is the first important step I wanted to bring up.


To get through this night shift schedule it is going to take both of you to work together as a team. The toughest darn team that has ever taken to a court… (Sorry too much NBA on in our house at the moment).

But in all seriousness, it is going to take both of you to consider one another schedules, struggles and feelings if this is going to work. 

I read lots of forums and listened intently around the tea room while writing this post and I see lots of people chatting with their friends, work colleagues and even the public about their marriage problems.

But how many of these people are actually talking to their spouse?

Step One – Talk

The first step in the journey of not letting night shift ruin your marriage is to talk – but to your spouse and not to the internet or work friends.

Yes, you can get some great ideas and encouragement from others, but it will not save your marriage. Acknowledge there is an issue, don’t pretend everything will be right, and sit down and talk to your other half. 

I know it’s painful and I know it hurts, but this conversation needs to be had. Just as a tip, this convo will be ongoing until you both find strategies which can bring you closer.

Sit down with your spouse and acknowledge there is an issue. Let each other speak. Then talk about solutions. Despite how awkward and confronting it is, this step is critical.

And this is a good thing by the way.

Step Two – Think About Solutions

Next, I want to give you a few things to get you thinking.

  • Quit or change your job (or even the hours).

I thought I’d address the elephant in the room first up.

Changing jobs may simply not be an option for most and I get that. But can you push your hours back (or forward) even by an hour?

Is there an opportunity to obtain a regular day off each week so you and your family can have some kind of routine on that day?

You never know if you don’t ask. 

Related: Working 2nd Shift With a Family: How to Remain a Solid Unit

  • For the at-home partner/spouse, can you modify your hours to be part-time?

Financially, I know again this may be impossible for some. But if you are able to reduce your hours by even one less day a week this could lead to more time together with your spouse and family.

Sitting down with your spouse and working out a budget will help identify where you are at as a family. Seeking professional, financial help may be of good use here.

If you are the wife at home we have written a post you’re going to love here. few posts for you. 

  • While talking about modifying your hours, could you find work which is from approximately 5 am – 2 pm?

I am talking to the spouse not working the night shift.

This way when your spouse is waking up mid-afternoon, you are already home and you can spend precious time together before they need to leave for a shift.

But how about if you only have one car?

I have heard a few times that the spouse without the car feels somewhat “trapped” in their own home.

Again, raise this with your spouse as they may not be aware of how you feel about this.

Is there room in the budget for another car? Can you carpool? Is there public transport available? Can you ride your bike? 

If money is tight we need to look outside the square. I know the above options may not be comfortable, but they are all options worth pursuing if getting another car is out of the question. 

  • Talk to a counselor or even the pastor

Seeking professional guidance can be incredibly refreshing and insightful as these individuals often make you discuss things which hurt or are a little tender.

Breaking down these barriers could be exactly what you need in order to progress and grow within your relationship.

Seeking help from these kinds of services may be uncomfortable, but again, if you both want this to work, you shouldn’t have to convince your spouse to attend. 

Breakfast in bed | Night Shift Is Ruining My Marriage. How to Stop It Happening
Breakfast in bed anyone?

The Little Things DO Matter

I am a firm believer that the little things really do make a HUGE difference in a relationship.

It’s quality over quantity when the night shift is involved which means you are actually given the opportunity to be romantic in your own way (even if you don’t have a romantic bone in your body!) 

Like, how many little moments can make a whole day? Heaps!

Again, this is a two person game and the little things need to be demonstrated by both of you (but could be inspired firstly by one of you, so there is no time like the present…).

Here are a few tips to incorporate those little things. 

Write notes for each other

…and leave them in places which may be a surprise.

These don’t have to be long and extravagant. You might actually make a bigger impact with a small, thoughtful note.

Dog | Night Shift Is Ruining My Marriage. How to Stop It Happening
Use your furry mate to help bring you closer together

Shift Dinner Time

If the night shift sleeping schedule is throwing out the family routine, can you shift dinner time a little?

Or, if you are the one sleeping, can you get up earlier and make an effort to enjoy dinner with your family before a shift?

We wrote an entire post here about falling to sleep when you’re not tired which could come in handy if you find falling to sleep tough after a shift.

Our post about our favorite sleep aids could also be a game changer. Check it out here.

Workout Together

If you like to workout alone maybe find time to do a 5-minute abs workout or a 7-minute jumping rope challenge together. This way you still get a good workout on your own but include a bit of fun into it at the end.

If you are the one working night shift, did you know working out after a shift may not be as bad for your sleep as you once thought? Find out more in a recent post we did here.

Establish Healthy Rituals

This is huge.

Figure out something which is unique and special to just you two and do this regularly.

It can be anything from a foot massage before work to enjoying a regular date night watching stand up comedy. Breakfast in bed after a night shift, to visiting the local market together on a day off is a few other options.

This ritual can NEVER be overlooked. It will be the glue that you both rely on.

Prioritize Your Partner Not Your Phone

I don’t think people talk about this enough.

When you do actually have time with your spouse watching a movie together, going out on a date or just sitting in the yard, put your phone away.

Don’t leave it facing up (or down) on the table just waiting for the next call. It’s super rude and tells your spouse you’re just waiting for the next best thing.

We chat more about this in a recent post we published here about maintaining your relationship when working opposite shifts.

Communicate Even When It’s Hard

Texting them on your break, sending a video message or leaving a flirtatious note or joke can work wonders.

If something is bothering you, say it but try and time these conversations after they have slept or are on a day off, not after they have just got home as the outcome will never be a good one for either party.

two pizzas and wine night shift date night | Night Shift Is Ruining My Marriage. How to Stop It Happening
Homemade pizza’s and wine? That sounds like a great date idea to me!

Summary: Night Shift Is Ruining My Marriage. How to Stop It Happening

Instead of focusing on the negative parts of the night shift schedule, think about the positive benefits.

Take a second to realize the importance of the little things and build on your pre-existing foundation from there.

You found love once with each other, you can find it again.

Good luck to you both.


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Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

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Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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