The gift of consideration

An inexpensive Christmas gift idea: Use your ears twice as often as your tongue

December 2008

This summer we entertained a guest from down East who had never seen a golden Prairie wheat field. It was on her list of things to celebrate and we enjoyed showing her how to find saskatoons and savour our “exquisite” air. She also commented that our home felt very peaceful and grounded. That was likely the most encouraging word spoken to me this summer.

Farm folks are curious about what gifts to put under the tree this year, and I would like to suggest a powerful gift that lasts the whole year long. This item requires thoughtful attention to the needs of your spouse and children. It won’t cost you any money, but it will cost you the time it takes to listen to another’s perspective. It demands that you use your ears twice as often as your tongue. I encourage you to give the gift of consideration.

Our family is blessed with a high degree of peacefulness when we intentionally practice consideration. I am not demanding that my husband meets all of my needs, and I don’t find it a pain to ask him what he needs at the moment. We have conflicts, but they don’t last long when we sit down and really listen to what the other person is thinking and needing.

It concerns me when a coaching client describes the situation of the farm as “his farm, his priorities” and her needs don’t seem to factor into building a healthier relationship. it can work both ways. I am not just picking on the male side of the equation.

William Hurley once wrote a book called, “His Needs, Her Needs,” which basically states that women are looking for relationships and men are looking for respect. Farm families are very engaged with keeping their business profitable, surviving many stresses, and getting the kids to hockey. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday living, we forget what is really important.

Are you rich in relationships? Do you live a fairly conflict-free life? Are your needs being met by self-care, love, and a strong circle of support? Where does God fit in? The bible teaches us to look out for the interests of others, not only our own. when I hear sad tales of “being the housekeeper slave” then I wonder about the wounded one. Does she ask for what she needs? Does she show consideration to the needs of her spouse? Does the husband really understand that her needs are not being met?

I don’t expect my hubby to meet all my needs. This is a lesson well learned early on in marriage. After a rough few days of harvest, I was invited to go out with the girls to a birthday party. I declined the invitation, but switched my decision when Wes said, “You need to have some fun.” Five hours later, my fun tank was re-filled and I was refreshed and ready to serve the needs of my farm family.

The gift of consideration is an awareness that other people have needs. I don’t expect that you will copy the martyr syndrome and pour yourself out to exhaustion, but I would coach you to be curious about the other members of your family, and what they need.

I need verbal affirmation and words of encouragement. I am a writer who delights in hearing about how the words on this page can impact your life. I need a lot of sleep. I need to know that I am deeply loved, so hugs and kisses are free-flowing at our house.

What do you need? when was the last time you had a great conversation with yourself? Are you paying attention to the things and people that bless you with a deep sense of well-being?

I am writing this column on my laptop on a Grey Goose bus, traveling to see my terminally ill mother-in-law. I make this trip with no regrets, as our relationship is loving. We say it, and we show it by our actions.

I started out 2008 with a theme of “delight.” I have enjoyed laughing heartily at the movies, and connecting with new friends. Our family experienced the sheer terror delight of Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River this summer. I have worked hard to help farm families find practical tools to resolve conflict so that they could delight in being a harmonious, profitable farm family business.

I have no idea what your issue or need is that is keeping you awake at night. What I do know is that Jesus Christ is real, and Christmas is a celebration of his birth. This Christmas, wrap your gift of consideration with intentional thoughtfulness. Put a box under the tree that encases a promise to seek to understand, coupons for date night, a commitment to listen more than you speak, and delight in the relationship you choose to cherish.

I know a lot of you farm guys groan at the thought of being mushy or writing a love letter. You already know what you need to do to cherish your spouse and meet some of her needs.

Do it before it’s too late. Like John Ortberg’s book title says, “When the game is over it all goes back in the box.” Choose to fill your Christmas box with consideration, and reap the rewards of a more peace-filled happy home.

Merry Christmas.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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Megan, BC Rancher
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Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
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