If you’re in a relationship and one of you is away for months at a time working in jobs at sea, it can be hard on both of you, and for a variety of different reasons. Maybe one of you has years of sea time to your name and you’re both used to the onshore / at sea life but it’s starting to take its toll on your relationship. Or perhaps you’re starting out in your career and looking for entry level cargo ship jobs and wondering if your relationship can stand the test of time.
In this article Martide takes a look at some practical ways that people who work in seafarer jobs - and their partners - can keep their relationship happy and healthy. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the fact is, a relationship in which one partner works in seafarer jobs can actually be a lot stronger due to its unique nature.
A relationship based on one person being away from home at long stretches of time needs to be based on commitment, trust and communication.
Jobs at sea and practical tips for a healthy relationship
When one of you is working in jobs at sea, it’s a real possibility that your relationship will face challenges every now and then. In fact, that’s not so different from any relationship - even when both partners are both working on land.
The trick is to strengthen your relationship by also being in a partnership. Maybe your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend also works in seafarer jobs, either in shore based maritime jobs, jobs in seaports, or other types of maritime jobs such as in the office of a shipping company. If so, there is a greater chance of them understanding the life you lead.
But what if you’ve just met a new partner and they just don’t understand how you could live your life half at sea and half on land? What if you’re starting your sea career in entry level cargo ship jobs and your existing partner is worried about how they’ll cope now that you’re going to be away for long periods of time?
Between you, taking care of the practicalities of one of you being away and the other being based at home will go a long way towards creating a true partnership. You have the romantic relationship part figured out - here’s how to take care of the practical stuff.
What is the difference between a relationship and a partnership?
The dictionary defines a relationship as “The relationship between two people or groups is the way in which they feel and behave towards each other.” or “A relationship is a close connection between two people, especially one involving romantic feelings.”
Meanwhile it defines a partnership as “Partnership or a partnership is a relationship in which two or more people, organizations, or countries work together as partners.”
You see the difference? A relationship is more emotional. The partnership definition mentions ‘work’ and is therefore more practical. The people involved need to work together to make the situation work.
And to make a relationship like yours work, practical issues need to be taken care of and loose ends tied up before one half of your couple heads back out to board their ship. If not resentment and stress can rear their ugly heads and cause issues - which are, of course, harder to resolve when one of you is thousands of miles away.
So let’s look at some ways that both partners - whether you’re the one working away in jobs at sea or the partner on land - can make your relationship and partnership work in this unique scenario.
5 practical tips for when you or your partner work in jobs at sea
- Plan the practicalities
Most of us would agree that finding the time to sit down and take care of life admin isn’t the most fun job in the world. But it’s an important one. Especially when one of you is working away in seafarer jobs.
You need to make the time for planning and you need to be organized. Write down everything you can think of that needs to be taken care of. Whether they are recent issues that have just cropped up, or you’re starting out in entry level cargo ship jobs and need to deal with...well, everything.
This list can cover everything from your child or children’s school activities and work, to dealing with tax and banking to physical things that need taking care of around the home and garden.
A word of warning though, one thing to not let creep into this planning session is emotions. This all needs to be done on a purely practical level. If certain emotional issues arise, you can note these down and talk about them later.
2. Check your insurance policies
It is crucial for both of your wellbeing and peace of minds that you know that you, your home and your pets are fully covered in the event of a problem. Sitting down once a year when the partner who works away in jobs at sea is at home and going through your policies is highly recommended.
Check any policies that are about to expire, particularly over the course of the next job contract and decide whether you’re going to renew them or shop around for a better deal. You don’t want to be left uninsured for life, travel, pet or home insurance in the event that the person at sea is un-contactable and a decision needs to be made.
3. Decide upon a budget
If one of you is away working in maritime jobs and the other is at home spending money with wild abandon, it’s probably going to cause problems - both emotionally in your relationship, and practically in your partnership. Agree upon your budgets and stick to them.
For this to work, you need to make sure that you both have access to the relevant bank accounts. And don’t forget to check that the person who is ashore will have access rights to an account. There’s no point having an emergency fund for unexpected home or family expenses, only for the person who needs it to be denied access.
4. Figure out home improvements
Chances are that periodically there’ll be some repairs or home improvements that need doing. Whether it’s the urgent fixing of a roof or boiler, or redecorating one of the kids’ bedrooms. Make a list of the things that need mending or updating around the home and garden. It’s fine to have a wish list of home upgrades that you’d love - a new fitted kitchen, decking in the back yard or garden, but try and prioritize.
Figure out what can be done by the person who stays at home, what can be taken care of by the partner who works in seafarer jobs, either alone or with each other’s help, and what needs a professional or specialist to deal with it.
It might be unavoidable if it’s a big project, but try not to let jobs around the house eat into the precious time you have together on shore. (Unless you love doing DIY together, of course!) Figure out what can be done when, and by whom.
5. Know who to call in times of need
It’s a fact of life that unfortunate events, illness, or worse can and do happen. Both at sea and on shore. Yes, seafarer jobs can be hard work and occasionally dangerous, but life on land can come with its own risks too! So that neither of you are left desperately trying to find someone to help you out in a sticky situation, write lists of people who can be called upon to help.
If you’re working in jobs at sea, take with you a notebook which includes names, numbers and email addresses - in fact as many contact details as you have - for your employer, contact at the shipping company, manning agent, maritime recruitment agency etc. You’ll also want your home contact details including family cell phone numbers, plus those of close friends or neighbors in case you can’t get hold of your spouse / partner / primary contact right away.
If you’re the person who stays at home, as well as your partner’s employment numbers and emails, you should also compile a list of contacts that includes everyone from family and friends to car mechanic, plumber, locksmith, electrician, and lawyer.
Chances are the months at sea (and at home) will pass peacefully and without incident but as the old saying goes, it’s always better to be prepared.
Take care of the practicalities to strengthen your partnership
Working in jobs at sea can be stressful for both parties in a relationship but dealing with the practicalities will help strengthen your bond and your partnership and make the situation less stressful on both of you.
How can Martide help you take care of the practical side of partnerships
Martide helps you line up jobs at sea quickly and easily either through our website or our mobile app for seafarers. The app also helps you stay in touch with employers and manning agents - even when you’re on the go.
That means if you’re the ocean going partner in your relationship, you’ll be able to find your next seafarer job with a minimum of fuss, no matter where in the world you are. Line up a maritime job, and you’ll know when your next embarkation date is so you can have ample time to deal with anything that needs taking care of at home.
Plus the streamlined process means that you won’t be wasting your valuable shore time with your loved ones.