Night Shift Nightmares

If you read my last post, An Open Door?, you’d notice that I recently left my job at The Navy Marine Mammal Program. While I loved my time working with the animals & staff, there is in immense downside to the field that I’m in… NIGHT SHIFT. While at other facilities that I’ve worked at they’ve been more sparse {a baby shift while waiting for labor in a specific animal} this facility was operational 24/7. While we got to rotate semi frequently, the time I was working at night could’ve taken a toll on my relationships & marriage… so I’m here to spread some positivity & tips on how we survived my nightshift nightmares! {aka how I survived being a vampire sleeping during the day & thriving at night}

Wow. The first thing I can say is that when I started my job with the Navy it was on the later night shift – easy. I woke up late afternoon, saw hubby when he came home from work & then left after we ate dinner together. This shift was hard only because sleeping during the day really took a toll on me & I didn’t have regular weekends – perks of being the low woman on the totem poll, right? I was lucky enough to then rotate to the two day shifts the next year & things were great… I had weekends, I had normal work hours, we were happy & I was so functional as a person.

The last rotation put me on the early night shift which really could’ve been a disaster – but wasn’t. I would go to work before hubs got home, & I would come home in the middle of the night while he was already sleeping. While it was great in the sense of giving me a lot of alone time {to start this blog – heyyy} I honestly only saw my husband on my weekend. & thank god I was lucky enough to get an actual real one… or else I’d never had ever seen him ever.

Okay. So how did we do it? How does this apply to people in relationships without nightshifts? How do you apply these tips to a marriage, friendship, family relationship? Well keep reading & let’s find out…

The most important thing we did was C O M M U N I C A T E. Whew. We already had this down on lock during our long distance relationship in college, but improved it even more while being married. Hubby & I rarely have fights based on miscommunication. We over communicate sometimes. While we were distance we really had to express feelings to the other person because we weren’t there to experience them in person all the time. So communication. Above I said that I didn’t actually see my husband until Saturday… wow. That’s five whole days living in our house, knowing he lives there too, just completely opposite times as I do. It was weird. I could sense his presence easily – dirty dishes, the couch cushions a specific way from how he’d sit… but no him. Sometimes it was haunting. So the first week I decided to start a note writing game with him each day when I left for work.

We got this magnetic memo board for our fridge that initially is where we wrote if the dishes were clean or not {wow we’re so lame} but it turned into a source of communication that was more than just a text message. So each day before I left for work I’d write him a simple note – “K- Love you forever & ever Mr. Pickle. Love -A”. That turned into him writing me a note when he got home from work for me to find 10 hours later when I got home… Then I’d write a note for him to find when he work up 4 hours later… to which he’d write notes for me to wake up to. See the trend? It was simple but honestly something I think that made the nightshift really work for us. It was something more than text on a phone… something about his handwriting made it really real for me. He was here. I was here. While we weren’t syncing up until the weekends, it was so nice to know that we took those few moments out of our day to really send a sweet note to the other person.

I think a huge part of this plays into my specific love language. Wow. Can you guess what my top one is? If you thought Words of Affirmation you’re 100% correct. {With an equal Receiving Gifts in there as well} I need that – my personality/soul/psyche everything just craves the extra effort it takes to write something out in the form of a love note or encouraging phrase. I save every single one. I actually have a “love note box” at home where I can get out short notes from friends, sorority sisters, bosses etc that have made me feel valued & special. {Will probably be writing a blog about the importance of knowing your own love language & how to relate to others’}

Another great thing we did was find individual hobbies. Oooooooh. This was huge! So often in a relationship/friendship you lose yourself & blend into one person. Back in the dating world this became my biggest pet peeve with friends – they’d morph into a single blob of togetherness with their significant other. Ugh. Let me explain. Early on in my life my mother gave me key Karen advice: “When you’re dating someone, don’t become them… keep the things about yourself. Be individual. Have friends outside your relationship. Have hobbies that make you, you. Because someday if you break up, you’ll still have yourself & friends that weren’t connected so they don’t have to take sides.” Thanks Momma K. I took that with me through college & really saw friends who invested so much time in their relationship & lost their important friends, hobbies & quirks along the way. When they did break up, they went through this self discovery all over again because they had pushed away people that loved them in order to invest time in their relationship.

So it’s a balance right? Have friends. Have couple friends. Have married friends. Have single friends. Friends at work. Friends at church. Friends who go to neither. I think that’s one of the most importation things in a relationship & what really helped Hubs & I stay true to ourselves during the night shift time {& honestly for the last three years in our marriage.} We hung out with friends on our own. He’d grab drinks after work with guys. I’d go paddle boarding with friends, FaceTime those that lived far away & go shopping with those close. We also created productive hobbies on our own time. I started this blog which was such a source of positivity in my life… It brought back my love of writing, sharing my story & gave me a sense of helping others with the simple thing’s I’ve learned in my 25 years of life. He started rekindling his love of video games – because he didn’t feel guilty playing them while I wasn’t there anymore. He also started running again & is training for a 50 mile race soon {wow ok way to be an over achiever babe}.

But it’s true. Be you. Be individual. Be that light that makes you special & unique. I guarantee you that why friends & loved ones are drawn to you… so while cultivating relationships is what we need – keep yourself while also being together.

The other key thing I think we did that really helped was making sure our time together was really spent together. These days it’s so easy to get caught up in the social media aspect of our world & distance yourself from the person right in front of you. I was a huge offender of this, because all day {night} at work I was unable to have my phone due to security reasons… I couldn’t even check in on a lunch break. I felt so cut off from the world & when I came home I’d go right to sleep. The weekends was my time to catch up on the world – but I eventually had to choose what was more important: the precious time spent with my husband who I never actually saw during the week or the virtual world that would be there all the time. Right.

We made the choice to have a phone free zone on the weekends when we spent time together. We also decided to do things together that promoted conversation & bonding instead of just binge watching shows on netflix all day together. {Okay we did that too, but not for the whole weekend}

Wow. While those are just two things that we did, I think they’re two very huge components on how to keep our relationships relatable in this day & age. So how can we transfer this to relationships outside of marriage? I think communication – real actual communication is key. So often I get frustrated with people in my life when they don’t live up to my expectations on how a situation will or should unfold. How are they supposed to know my expectations if I don’t express them? NOVEL IDEA! I’ve learned growing up that the best way to avoid disappointment is to talk through things. If I tell friends or family what I’m thinking or expecting out of a situation, most likely they’ll engage & we’ll come to a solution. As much as I sometimes wish people could read my mind {glad they can’t sometimes}, they can’t & I have to express what I’m thinking, how I feel & why I’m upset.

There we have it; three things that I think really improved our relationship & helped us survive the night shift period in our life. Dear lord, we did it. I know with the field I’m in my schedule is never solid or set – which is something that my husband has been so gracious about in our relationship. While I won’t be on a night shift in this new job, there are already challenges presenting themselves. I don’t have real weekends again. We’re in moving limbo so I only see him three days out of the week while the other four I’m working in another city. Although this seems wild, it’s nothing new to us. We adapt. We overcome. We’re Muench/Young’s after all. With communication, keeping key hobbies & making us time really about us, I know we’ll continue thriving.

I choose him every day. He chooses me. We choose each other. That’s honestly the best thing you can do. Choose. Make an effort. Take the time. Go the extra mile. You’ll notice the difference, promise.

x -A

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