Valentine’s Day last Sunday highlighted an aspect of being a subcontractor that can create a great deal of stress … working for weeks on end in remote locations far away from loved ones.
The internet has brought a level of intimacy to special occasions like Valentine’s Day but it is no substitute for being in the arms of a loved one.
CQUniversity social media researcher Amy Johnson is doing her PhD on how Defence families manage their relationships around deployment and the role social media can play.
Her husband Aaron is in the RAN and can be away for six to eight months a year. so Ms Johnson has become an avid user of social media to maintain contact with her husband.
“ADF spouses who are away from their loved ones often feel heightened feelings of loneliness and jealousy on Valentine’s Day,” she said.
“Especially when they’re seeing other spouses, who are good at communicating long distance, absolutely lavish love on their partners … those feelings can be tricky to manage.”
Ms Johnson has also spoken to many FIFO and DIDO workers who experience similar emotional problems away from home.
She warns that with all social media communication, clear messages and practical expectations are important.
“Both parties need to be aware of what the other person expects and also what they are capable of … if a partner isn’t romantic for 364 days a year, they’re not suddenly going to flood you with romance on Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Ms Johnson juggles raising sons William and Guy while preparing her 100,000-word investigation to gain her PhD into social media and its role sustaining long-distance relationships.
“I’m blessed that Aaron is a good communicator and we make good use of social media but not every couple is successful. And throw in the lack of job security in the commodity sector and there is often fear in a FIFO relationship,” she said.
Ms Johnson is completing her PhD via distance learning.
“I am based in Perth at the moment but Defence personnel move around so distance learning is the best way for me to study,” she said.
Unless anything unforeseen crops up, Ms Johnson plans to have her research completed by July 2018.
After that, Ms Johnson hopes to put together online workshops aimed at teaching people how to use social media successfully, particularly when distance is a major factor.
In the meantime she can be contacted on Twitter @Amyjritesgood which has links to material she has already published.