Many farm families are concerned about the health of their marriages and partnerships. My speaker friend Dan Ohler is our guest this week to encourage you to think about doing a private marriage retreat or couples retreat.
With all the stresses and strains on ag families, there is hope. Consider ways to cherish each other more. Part of that work may be spending time with folks like Dan and Carole Ohler who have practical tools to help farm couples.
2 X 2 Couple’s Retreat: 10 Reasons To Do It
As farmers, most of us want, and/or have, and/or need a 4 X 4 truck. If you’re like us, it’s a no-brainer – for stability, safety, flexibility, and power.
Our 4 X 4 keeps us solidly on the road, regardless of the conditions. When consciously attending to conditions, we travel safely and get where we’re going. We have the flexibility to get through muddy fields to the tractor or rescue a new-born calf in the back 40 in a snowstorm. It gives us that extra “oomph” when hauling a heavy load.
We all know the truck needs regular maintenance so it will perform for the long-term. We can do some of it, but occasionally we need to book a specialist when there is that weird little noise, a strange lurch, a “something” that we can’t quite explain. In those situations, “don’t wait until it’s too late.”
In your relationship with your life-partner, you need a 2 X 2 for similar reasons. Just like your 4 X 4, there are many reasons for occasionally booking the expertise of specialists at a couples retreat, to ensure your relationship thrives for the long-term. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
A 2 X 2?
We’re referring to a couples retreat, where you and your partner get away from your familiar surroundings, to invest focused time with another couple who specialize in relationship enhancement, a 2-on-2.
Here are 10 reasons this type of couples retreat is important for you.
1. Focused Time Together
Agreeing to schedule a retreat sends a strong underlying message that your relationship is a priority. A retreat does not mean there is anything broken. In fact, engaging in a retreat is a sign of strength, passion, and a willingness to excel. It’s an indication that you are willing to work together as a strong team.
2. Honest Dialogue
Relationships aren’t perfect. Situations occur. There are differences of opinions, sometimes deeply-seated values differences. It can be hard to talk about these things effectively and respectfully on your own. They start as small things, and can become a growing pile of … stinky stuff, right in the middle of your kitchen floor. Rather than deal with it, you creatively dance around it.
Relationship coaches provide a safe environment, and guidance for you to have these delicate conversations, so both feel valued and heard.
Conflicting opinions can be extremely powerful in a relationship. Encouraging and inviting dissenting ideas can invigorate creativity and innovation when handled effectively and respectfully. This is constructive. When handled ineffectively and disrespectfully, the relationship crumbles – it becomes destructive.
Relationship coaches ensure the constructive process is followed. Each of you gets the opportunity to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and share possible solutions without interruptions. You gain a deeper understanding of how your partner thinks, feels, and processes the world.
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We regularly hear that one or both people crave a deeper sense of connection. This is intimacy. We’re not referring to sex, however, what happens in your private time is up to you.
We’ve heard intimacy defined as “Into Me See.”
Relationship coaches provide a safe environment to be vulnerable, without fear of defense, anger, put-downs, or arguments. In this mental/emotional space, you learn about yourself and each other in a new way, and truly “be” who you are at the core.
For Love to flourish, this intimacy must grow on a continual basis. You can talk openly about and visualize your values, needs, wants, and desires, as individuals and as a team. Having a powerful “team dream” provides the fire-in-the-belly passion and motivation to succeed – no matter what.
5. Tools, Strategies, or Plans
Having the dream is powerful, but it’s not likely to happen on its own. Yet with a collective view of what you want your relationship and life to look like, sound like, and feel like, you can easily determine what needs to be done – or not done.
Most people live by habit – usually unconscious ways of thinking, speaking, and behaving. Through an intuitive questioning process, relationship coaches invite and encourage the formation of new or revised habits, which lead to desired results. Strategies for working individually and together are developed.
Old habits don’t change easily or quickly. You will develop a support system (usually each other) for long-term growth and success.
Most couples develop one or two plans for immediate focus. Steps and milestones are agreed to. Creating these conscious agreements eliminates assumptions and unmet expectations, and reinforce accountability.
If the agreements are not able to be kept, you’ll develop a renegotiation process, to ensure the agreements or renegotiated agreements are kept.
All of this forward-moving, solution-oriented conversation in a safe, protected environment is great BUT…what happens when you get back home, where you encounter interruptions, commotions, and disturbances?
It can be too easy to fall back into old habits. We call it a Crash of Faith.
Relationship coaches will ask for and support you to commit at the highest level. If there are things that might get in the way of your success, you’ll develop strategies to deal with those.
A solid grounding at a couple’s retreat is appreciation. You have been attracted to your partner for many reasons. Although your partner’s strengths may be different than yours, they are attributes that can make your team even stronger, every day. Throughout your retreat, this appreciation grows. Neurologically, when you are in a state of appreciation, anger cannot exist.
Regardless of your mental or emotional states, the process used by relationship coaches allows you to experience relief from where you were, to experience something a bit better, and to commit to escalating those feelings to a higher level. It’s tough to go from anger, worry, or concern, to a feeling of ecstasy in one leap. It is possible to continually choose a bit of relief in each moment.
In our fast-paced world, it is too easy to go from task to task, without stopping to reflect, evaluate, and celebrate.
Celebration in your relationship doesn’t need to be big, loud, or extravagant. Committing to take the time to slow down together, reflect together, and to celebrate together is the icing on the cake.
Relationship coaches will celebrate with you every step of the way.
Now, What About You?
Your quality of life and the success of your farming operation is largely dependent on the quality of your relationship with your partner. Similar to your land, equipment, and your 4 X 4, your relationship requires care, attention, and maintenance.
Just like your 4 X 4, don’t wait until it’s too late!
Dan & Carol Ohler specialize in working with couples to prioritize and enhance their most important relationship. As coaches, the process is Art and Science. It is an intuitive solution-oriented, forward-moving method to support you to get the results you want. They invite you to visit their website, email them or call them at 780-785-3700.
Great post, Elaine. We need to remember our “why’s”. Why do we work (farm) – its helps us generate revenue to do the things that are really important – spouse, children, grand children, faith and charity.
Thanks for using this article, Elaine, Last week, we said “see ya later” to a farm couple from the Peace region who attended a retreat. They were confident about their commitments to increased effective communication throughout the seeding season and beyond. It is an investment in joy, happiness, love and long-term success.
Need to listen. But really listen.