No More Relationship Problems Because of Opposite Schedules

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Before we got married and whilst preparing for the big day as young 20-year-olds, a counselor told us that relationships are hard, require work and are all about compromise. We looked at each other and secretly rolled our eyes and giggled thinking “this will be a breeze”. Then shift work entered our lives!

Working opposite schedules requires planning and communication. Actively listen about your partner’s needs. Set aside times for in-depth and meaningful conversation. Organize date days/nights and never comprise on this. The little things do matter and know your relationship can thrive.

The challenges we face as shift workers may be different, but are no more stressful from those working 9-5. Sometimes you may feel like ships in the night with your partner but know plenty of people keep their relationship alive when working opposite shifts, whilst even enhancing it.

In case you’ve forgotten and never thought to understand the benefits of being a shift worker or having a rotating roster, check out a seperate article post reading this one on the 13 key advantages to shift work. It will provide you with plenty of reasons to embrace your roster.

Enough of the prologue and let’s get into why you’re here. We sat down as a couple, both working opposite schedules, and detailed the best insights into how we make our relationship work. We hope this helps you with any struggles you may be currently experiencing.

Actively Listen

Are you hearing or listening? A great question that does require some thought.

Being an engaged and purposeful listener boosts relationship confidence and produces trust and report, whilst also working as a stress aid. I know that sometimes, I just need Dan to sit and listen for a little bit whilst I produce a verbal barrage. Just having him respond after it with a small question, helps me decompartmentalize what’s on my mind.

Becoming an active listener does take work, so check out this article for some tips. However, the benefits go way beyond your relationship and simply being nice or attentive to whoever is speaking.

As your competence as a listener grows, so will your confidence, and you can reap whole range of other benefits outside the relationship too.

Set Aside Time to Talk About the Serious Business Between Shifts

There are times when you need to discuss a leaky tap, the latest bill or simply need to get something off your chest. Don’t be scared to spend the precious time you have together with a conversation that needs to be had. A build up of issues or what’s on your mind prevents little things from becoming huge problems down the track.

We really liked this couples article, where they have a weekly “Bae-Sesh”, which they set aside an hour to speak their minds in a judgment-free space. It allowed the couple to feel heard and respected. It avoided larger conflicts, helped them actively listen, whilst bonding and feel closer to each other.

Not everyone needs to spend 60 minutes on this conversation, so find what works for you. The key message here is to stop and make sure items that are important to either person in the relationship are provided the airtime they deserve.

Find Communication Methods That Work

The communication method is the enabler, but you cannot forget what we have listed earlier in this article. So the sections on active listening, setting aside time to talk and communicating regularly are what trigger this section.

But there’s a reason this goes in here – we are new age people!

Gone are the days where I can’t speak to my partner when we’re not in the same company. I’m sure one half of the relationship thought calling on the work phone was cool, until your partner got in trouble for taking personal calls in the workplace!

So what’s available to use now to share a message on how much we love our other half?

Have you ever left a sticky note on the fridge for when your partner gets home from work? Have you sent a text message just saying how much you appreciate “you being you”? Shared an emoji blowing kisses?

I really enjoy it when Dan writes a note in my lunch bag – it also triggers me to connect with him just before he goes to bed when I might be working night shift.

There are plenty of communication methods that help when time is spent apart. Don’t be afraid to use technology to its advantage and think outside the square with places you can leave your other half a note.

Put Down Your Device

I find it interesting writing this, as how society has changed over the years. Being present with your partner can’t be achieved, when you’re connected to others via a device.

Putting down your phone, closing the computer screen and turning down the TV when your partner gets home is a must.

We understand you may be in the middle of an important email or at the best part of the movie but it can wait. Think of the message you send the other person, who should be the most important in your life, that what you’re doing on the device doesn’t warrant you to stop and say hello.

When spending time together, be conscious of how often you go to your phone.

It’s ok to just sit there together and say nothing or look at each other. You don’t always need to be connected to the outside world. I can assure you it will deepen the quality of time spent together and your overall relationship.

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

Intimacy is a Must

Intimacy involves feelings of being emotionally close and connected with someone else. Having an intimate relationship can be characterized by an attitude of mutual trust, acceptance and care.

However, intimacy is just not physical, it’s also emotional.

We found this great explanation; emotional intimacy doesn’t automatically occur with sexual intimacy either, as people who are sexually involved may not choose to share their innermost thoughts and feelings or the sexual relationship might be one where there is not a high degree of emotional intimacy (source).

This is why other sections in this article count. Your only time shared together can’t be spent making the bedroom all hot and steamy.

The final part to this – don’t be scared to book it in. Having sex doesn’t always have to be a spur of the moment thing. It’s ok to say that on Thursday night, we are going for it!

It could be an exciting moment that one person looks forward to when getting home from night shift, whilst “morning glory” applies for the person just waking up.

Book in a Regular Date Day / Night

Date nights can; provide an opportunity to communicate and deepen ones relationship, they strengthen or rekindle that romantic spark, strengthens a couple’s sense of commitment to one another, are a way to relieve stress from ordinary life and couples who engage in novel activities find higher levels of relationship quality (source).

So it could be a fancy dinner, trip to the movie theatre or even the chance to try something new, say a hike or checking out the latest comedy show in town (nothing beats a few big belly laughs).

Watching Netflix at home can be ok once in a while, but getting away from the household helps with making the event feel special. Whatever you decide is best, have a laugh, relax and make it special.

The Little Things Do Matter When Working Opposite Shifts

This is your chance to bring a big smile to your partners dial. It doesn’t mean showering them with rose petals (you can if you want to though!), but more an opportunity to show your thoughtful self.

Think about leaving a corny note. What about doing your other halves least desirable household chore?

Dan has found my personal favorite – jumping into bed on a cold winters night and finding a hot Lavender Flower Heating Pad BagOpens in a new tab. (this is the one we have from Amazon and it amazing) under the covers.

When sleeping alone, I find jumping into a warm bed so soothing and comforting and puts me to sleep right away.

Respect Each Others Sleep Cycle

I have to be honest here, there was a discussion in our household about the level of noise when the other half is sleeping.

Dan is an extremely light sleeper and I’m a tad heavy-handed and footed, so when I would get home from night shift, I may have been a tad noisy getting ready for bed.

The importance of 7-9 hours of quality sleep is critical for ones mental and physical health. Sleep must be respected and prioritized in your relationship – even if you want to debrief from your shift, got something important to share or you’re feeling a little frisky.

If you are struggling with sleeping, check out these articles we’ve written on how to make the most from your zzz’s:

Your bedroom must also be conducive to sleep. If you’ve not seen our article on shift work bedroom ideas, this will provide you with plenty of tips to making your bedroom a sleep haven.

Spontaneity spices up your life   

The feeling I get when Dan comes out and says “I’ve got a surprise for you”, works wonders in our household.

Being a girl, positive surprises bring out a range of emotions and thoughts. It makes me feel like he’s been listening to me and really is connected in our relationship. Negative surprise have the opposite effect, but that rarely happens nowadays and when it does, we talk about it.

Now naturally, some people don’t like surprises. However, science suggests that surprise enacts a strong neuro alert that tells us that something is important about this moment and we have to pay attention – your attention is completely frozen in that moment (source).

So even if your partner typically doesn’t like a surprise (think being scared or a surprise birthday), positive spontaneity of any kind demonstrates a connectedness between you both that grabs the attention of both parties – a must when you might not spend as much time together as others.

Find a Hobby

When working opposite schedules, you’ll find that you spend more time on your own. A great way to keep yourself distracted is to find a hobby.

Obviously mine is the blog – I love it! Dan also helps on the blog, but on the other hand loves his basketball coaching and helping the community.

Without those two things keeping us busy, we’d most likely find our minds wandering into areas that aren’t productive for our relationship.

Always make sure that your hobbies don’t impact your time together and if you can find something that you both have interest in and works for both schedules, jump in it together. This is where the website has been great for us!

If you are looking for some ideas on things to do, feel free to check out these other posts from us;

Struggling With Sleep?

For the ladies out there, check out this article on How Can I Sleep Without My Boyfriend? It provides great tips on handling your emotions and sleep quality when your other half is not around.

Summary: No More Relationship Problems Because of Opposite Schedules

It is possible to keep your relationship alive when working opposite shifts.

If you or your partner are new to shift work, it can be a rude shock but you will find your rhythm and each other again very soon. We promise! 

Start following and implementing our advice and you will feel closer than ever to your partner in no time.

Now we might not have everything that works for all people, so we’d love to hear what you do stop relationship problems because of opposite schedules? We would love to share your ideas with our community and even try them for ourselves!

Please leave a comment below and subscribe to our email list to make contact.

Next up, Night Shift Care: 10 Ways to Help Your Loved One Thrive.


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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.

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.

2 thoughts on “No More Relationship Problems Because of Opposite Schedules

  1. My boyfriend works second shift and getting enough quality time together is a huge issue for us. He likes a lot of alone time/hanging out at the bar with friends. The result is maybe 1-2 days a week together. What is a healthy amount of time for him to spend with friends vs with me? He feels he should be away for a few hours several times a week because his social life is limited to evenings/weekends.

    1. I know this is going to sound like a boring answer, but it’s all about communication. He needs to know you need more quality time together as he can’t read your mind (as much as we’d like them too and even if you think it’s so obvious!). I can’t say what a healthy amount of time is as every relationship is different. But if you think the scales are tipped the wrong way, then a change is necessary. Keep talking. Good luck. Emma

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