Managing Your Marriage in the MuckAs I write this, we are stalled with harvest due to bothersome rains. Those of you with more muck than crop are saying “wish I even had a harvest.” Moreover, the farmers from Saskatchewan with muddy acres are wondering how to get the land ready for next year! Not fun.

We have gone through this before but for some folks, this year is the most extreme challenge. My concern is for the family foundation and resilience that holds things together even under enormous external stresses.

We cannot stop the rain or cause fields to dry up overnight. We can choose to find ways to cope and hope.

Managing Your Marriage in the Muck

This summer I have had conversations with farmers and ranchers looking for hope to keep up their passion for agriculture and re-ignite the passion of their marriages. I remind them that if their spouse is the most important part of their life, how are they putting that into action?

Farms under financial strain due to poor crops and looming debt payments can still succeed IF the folks involved pull together as a team and keep talking and listening to each other.

I mediated for the Federal government and will just share that the folks who communicate frequently and openly in a gracious manner with lenders are able to make away with a new repayment plan. The folks who bury their heads in the piles of bills and crazy credit card debt are really in a tough spot, even when the spouses are shocked at the high-interest rates and the large hole they cannot seem to get out of. Financial stress can be addressed with good communication, mediation, and connection that makes a couple stronger when they are both committed to making adjustments.

  • Are you committed to your spouse?
  • Do you cherish and honor your mate?
  • Do you offer security and unconditional love to your wife?
  • Does your husband know that you respect him?

When I asked my hubby during a tough year (not this year ) what I should write about he said: “Does anybody want to buy a farm ?” UGH.  What lies underneath that comment was deep frustration with the season of sporadic harvesting, hailstorms, excessive moisture, bleached crops,… should I go on? We are not selling out. We are trying to take good care of each other and give space to go to the “man cave” when necessary.

If your marriage is in the muck, how important is it to you to save it? You realize that spouses who separate and divorce split the farm assets. More tough news you do not want to hear. Ten years from now will you remember the wheat yields or will you recall how good it felt to have family and friends offering support, help, and a listening ear?

[Tweet “#Farmers, don’t let #stress ruin your #marriage. Learn how to make it through the muck.”]

“Your Farm. Your Family. Your Choice.”

That is my tagline for the work I do and how I see life. We all have options and choices in how we respond to the stresses around us or in us. Your farm has had a lot of external challenges this year. What things can you manage and control to make adjustments to carry on? Your family feels your anger due to fear and frustration about finances and the future. Are you hurting them by pushing them away? Or are you seeking solace with warm conversation, curious heartfelt questions, and time for intimacy?

You are responsible for your own happiness, and you get to choose your response. I strongly believe this, as does Dr. Gary Smalley who wrote a great marriage book I Promise. Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book on Communicating the Language of Love and Respect should also be on your wish list. Men need different things than women. When couples figure out how to show love and respect to each other regardless of how deep the combine is stuck, things will work out.

Dr. Nikki Gerard’s research of stress in farm families showed that communication, connection to the community, and celebration helped folks be resilient even when thinking “What doesn’t kill me is going to make me stronger.”


Are you going to cherish your spouse and intentionally work on building a stronger marriage?

Are you going to make a doctor’s appointment to get a physical to see why you are not sleeping well, and if you may be slightly depressed?

Are you going to make an attitude shift to be more direct in communicating your needs and wants to your family, your employees, and your lenders?

Are you going to celebrate that you live in a great peaceful country, you have hot showers, food on the table, and people who care about you showing up for work?

If your answer is “No” to any of the above questions, then that is your choice.

“Counseling is about recovery, coaching is about discovery.”

I am not a therapist, yet I am a great listener and coach. I can encourage you as a coach to build a new scenario for the next 6 months, maybe even just the next 3 months. What in your heart of hearts do you know you need to do to feel better, feel more love, and have more hope to cope with the financial strain you are under? Seek out the Farm Stress Line,  counselors or a trusted confidant to build a new strategy. Talk openly with your lenders. Decide if you are going to save your marriage… for your part, your spouse will have to choose their commitment to keeping covenant. Stop procrastinating. Do the tough things right, now!

What’s the one thing you can do today to start pulling your marriage out of the muck?

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.


Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
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.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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