Monday, July 26, 2010

Doomed for Divorce?

So here’s a topic that came up the other night and it got me thinking. There’s this guy at work, a young guy…he can’t be much more than a few years older than me, and he’s getting a divorce from his wife who he’s been married to for only 5 years. Another coworker was telling me this and he proceeded to share that this guy was now another one of the regular divorced S-shifters at Teck. (S Shift is the shift that I work. There are 4 different shifts, Q,R,S and T.) Apparently pretty much every guy up there on that shift in the plant that I work in has been divorced at least once in their life. The more I looked into this topic the more I learned that it’s not just because we’re the crazy S-shift group. A very high proportion of the men up there have faced divorce since being employed at Teck. So what causes the high divorce rates up there?

It seems that working 4&4 days/nights can be really hard on a relationship (in which you work 2 days then two nights of 12 hour shifts). Considering that the person on that schedule has a different work week every week, this will mean that your schedule will always completely clash at some time during the month. For example, let’s say a man works 4&4 days/nights while his wife works 9-5 Monday-Friday at a regular job. At one point for 3 weeks straight, there will be 2 days in a row in which the couple will not see each other, except when sleeping. He goes to work around 5-5:30pm which is when she gets home from work, and he gets home around 6:15am which gives them about an hour or so of social exchange before she has to get up for work. For some couples this could be a good thing (absence makes the heart grow fonder?) but for most, especially if you throw kids in the mix, this would be very difficult.

So here are the top 10 reasons for divorce:
1. Lack of commitment towards marriage, sexual incompatibility and infidelity
2. Lack of communication
3. Abandonment, alcohol/drug abuse
4. Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
5. Inability to manage and resolve conflict
6. Differences in personal or career goals
7. Difference in attitudes towards household tasks and financial problems
8. Intellectual incompatibility and inflexibility
9. Mental instability/illness
10. Religious beliefs, cultural or lifestyle differences

I don’t see one of the reasons being Teck lifestyle due to shift work. Hmmmm. But the shift work could create problems in all of these areas listed above. Then again, any other job could create the same kind of problems.

To maintain a strong relationship for this work schedule, both of the people have to be rather independent, trusting and understanding. It would be a hard life to lead and I know guys who have been doing it for 30+ years up there. Working night shift is hard enough…having to keep up a good relationship while doing it day in and day out is just another layer to add to it all. Apparently if a person works night shift for 10 years then they will lose 10 years off of their life. Seriously! It has to do with the natural rhythm of our bodies and the huge amount of strain we would have to put on our system to make it sleep during the time of day (day time) in which it is supposed to be awake and keeping it awake when we should be sleeping.

Tip of the Day: Only do night shift if you absolutely have to and if it’s for a short period of time.

I found this whole divorce/shift work association a but saddening and I think that there should be a huge research study for it to see if this is a world-wide problem or if it just so happens to be a phenomenon for Teck employees. Maybe it all just comes down to the fact that there’s just too many heavy metals in the soil/water here and we’re all a bit loony, hence the difficulty maintaining stable relationships with other people. Makes sense to me.

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