For My Niece: A Letter To New Oilfield Wives & Girlfriends

Pumpjack (for oil) at dawn


This past weekend I found out from my mother-in-law that my niece has been dating a man who works on a rig in Utah and they are considering getting married. Upon hearing this the first thing I did was send my husband a text message asking if he had heard this news. Turns out he already knew all about it. (Uh, why didn’t you tell me, dude? This was something I’d like to have known about. DUH!)

While my husband was completely nonchalant about the matter I was happy, excited, worried and scared for her all at the same time. I started wondering if there was any wisdom I could impart on her about life as an oilfield wife. In all fairness, I’ve not been an oilfield wife for as long as some and I’m sure she’s figured out some things on her own already, but surely I have some wisdom I could impart upon her, right? So, I gathered my thoughts and came up with the following letter which contains a few things that I think are important for my niece, or any new oilfield wife or girlfriend, to know about life with an oilfield man.

Dear Niece,

It has been brought to my attention that you are considering embarking on a lifelong journey with man who works in the oilfield. This means that you are now be a part of a special group of women known as oilfield wives/girlfriends. It’s a unique group that faces a very unique set of challenges, but thankfully, with these challenges come some great rewards.

Now, I’ve know you since you were a kid and have watched you grow into a strong young woman so I know you’re up to the task, but if I may, let me share with you a few things that I’ve learned while being married to your uncle during his time in the oilfield. I hope that some of them might help make your own experience a smooth one and your relationship with your intended a strong one.

So, first, let’s get something out of the way. Life as an oilfield wife is HARD! There is no getting around this. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, but just be ready for it! It’s going to be hard to watch him leave, it’s going to be hard to adjust when he’s home, it’s going to be hard when he’s not home for the holidays, it’s going to be hard to pick up the slack around the house when he’s gone. I know you are strong and brave and will weather it all with grace. Despite all this do not be afraid to ask for help! You may not be able to do it all yourself and that’s okay.

The most important thing the two of you can do is to communicate and keep communication lines open! The distance when he’s gone and the rushed nature of your time together when he’s home may make this difficult. It’s not easy to really convey your feelings when you are not together in person. When he’s home you may have to rush around and take care of the business of every day life, causing you try and put aside serious communication. Do not put it aside! Carve out some time to have those conversations even if it means having to ask for help to get the time you need. It may take some serious work, but do your best. Your relationship depends on it!

Now, let’s talk about money. Oilfield money is great! Until it’s not. Keep a tight budget and save what you can. The day will inevitably come when there is a lull in the work or the rig gets stacked and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Also, make sure both of you are involved with or at least know what the budget is. Don’t you or your spouse be one of those people who refuses to deal with the bills and then wonders where the money goes! It will save a lot of headaches if both parties are aware of the finances. 

If you can, use your beau’s oilfield work as an opportunity to see things you’ve never seen before and wouldn’t see otherwise. Spend a summer with him living in a camper or travel cross country to visit him, if possible. This is a great way to better understand the work he does and see things other people only read about in the news.

Finally, while it may be rough, for every sad goodbye there will be a joyous reunion. When you see his face as he comes through the door you will remember how much you love him and why you keep on doing this oilfield wife thing.

Take care dear niece and don’t forget that you are not alone. There are a whole group of women out there that share your unique circumstances and are going through the exact same thing that you are going through. You have but to turn on the computer and they will be there and of course you can always come to me anytime.

Good luck!


Your Aunt

Alright, ladies, it’s your turn! What wisdom would you wish to share with new oilfield wives or girlfriends? Leave me, and them, a comment and let us know!





About chelsea

Chelsea is mama to 4 year old Will and partner to her oilfield man and best friend of 16 years, Jacob. She splits her time between the family’s camper in the North Dakota Oil Patch and a small urban homestead in Kentucky. Chelsea writes about the family’s camper adventures at She is a batik artist and loves teaching others about the art of batik at She can also be found working on her other sites and In her moments of spare time she enjoys knitting, sewing and gardening.


  1. Hi Chelsea… Great post! I’m very new to this, so I’ll definitely be taking your advice and wisdom on board. My partner is away on his first trip offshore, on an oil rig in the North Sea. It’s something he’s wanted to do for a while, and a job came up recently so he jumped at it… I don’t know anyone in this position, so I turned to the internet and thankfully, I stumbled upon this site. I’m quite apprehensive as it’s all new and I know I’ll miss him a lot, but I’m hoping this site will be a source of comfort… 🙂

  2. I would suggest that she not believe all the crap that she may hear from some of the other oil field wives. While we may be a supportive group in general, she shouldn’t believe or get panicked by the group who constantly doubt their men or paint a horrible and untrue picture of the women in whatever state their men are in. TRUST is key in any relationship and especially in the oilfield.

  3. Paula, while she should trust him, she shouldn’t be ignorant about it either. I’ve hung out with my husband and his oilfield buddies on bourbon street… Let me just say, they obviously don’t care too much about who’s around watching. This is not exclusive to oilfield men, I think they just have more opportunity than most. My advice is to always trust your gut. If something feels wrong, there is usually something wrong.

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