Blogs

how to prevent divorce on farms

Each year is a new year of possibilities. Though there may always be struggles, there are also opportunities to create a stronger marriage in 2020 and beyond. With that in mind, today I’m going to share 14 actionable tips for how to prevent divorce on the farm.

The Threat of Divorce to the Farm Family Legacy

My parents married on December 27, 1955. My brothers each chose to marry that same week in 1984, and 1990. I, being the rebel, got married on Independence Day, July 4, 1981. Wes and I have outlasted Chuck and Di who married the same year, the same month.

Divorce is one of the biggest threats to farm family legacy. We need to start talking more about how to prevent divorce & breakups and create more make-ups. (Feel free to tweet that!)

[Tweet “#Divorce is a threat to #farm family legacy. Here are 14 ways to prevent it:”]

14 Tips for How to Prevent Divorce in Farm Families

As I write this I am thinking of neighbors, friends, clients of all ages, and stages who have struggled to stay married over the years.

Now, here’s my “how to prevent divorce” list:

1. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED. LOVE DOES NOT READ MINDS

When I want a hug I ask. When I need quiet time alone I negotiate the volume of the TV. My coaching career demands travel and time away. That is okay!

2. LISTEN TO THE NEEDS OF THE OTHER AND ACT

Marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100. You are committed to serving your mate with a servant attitude, and they serve you.

How can you be a better listener? How can you act on what is requested for change?

When I talk too much Wes will squeeze my knee under the table as a loving signal to give others air time. Can you start paraphrasing what your spouse said to make sure you received the message correctly?

3. BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL

Honey is more appealing than vinegar.

When it comes to how to prevent divorce, one of the first things we need to consider is how we treat our partner.

Every morning we get to choose if we are kind or nasty in our approach. Grouches need to get checked out by doctors for depression. Most in-laws would never even think of leaving the farm family IF they felt they were respected.

By the way, I discuss more about my journey with depression in this post: Dealing with Depression: Reflections from the Quiet Chair.

What does respect look like to you? Look each other in the eye and ask “How can I show you more respect? What would you like me to do differently?”

4. WALK IN THEIR BOOTS, TAKE ANOTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE

Young farmers are craving work/life balance, a chance to read bedtime stories.

Do you remember what it was like to be 35 with young kids? Young moms who work off-farm are exhausted.

How can you share the load?

5. ADAPT AND YIELD WITH “YES, DEAR”

Wes hates putting up Christmas lights, but he still helps me do it. I know he appreciates hot home-cooked meals, so I am happy to vary the menu.

There are many ways to accomplish the same goals, which is why I am thankful for frozen stir-fry meals when I am away.

Check-in with your mate to see if there are other ways to adapt to what they desire. This ability to adapt to one another’s needs is a critical step in how to prevent divorce.

6. BE PHYSICALLY STRONG AND CONNECTED.

Yes, we are talking about sex here, and being in shape physically to enjoy the age stage you’re at.

Many folks are open with me about their sexual frustration; I guess it comes with being a good listener. We all need to love and be loved. Meaningful touch with hugs, kisses, shoulder squeezes is also part of the mix.

Don’t talk about farming in the bedroom after dark. Play with each other instead.

Take a look at these 10 tips to keep the sparks alive for farm couples.

7. MAKE QUICK REPAIR

Conflict is normal. Abrasive fighting is bad. John Gottman’s book “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” is a great read.

He emphasizes the need to keep conflicts short and small, then fixes them quickly. I say “extend the olive branch, and reach out to be part of the reconciliation.”

If you need more tools for this, take a look at my 10 Tools for Talking About Tough Issues.

8. BE THANKFUL AND COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Our farming friend has a disabled wife in a wheelchair. They are amazing how they show love to each other. They also remind us that we need to stay committed to each other in sickness and in health.

Wes has already proven this to me when I spent most of 1984 in a psych ward with severe postpartum depression. Work on your mental health, and choose a good attitude every day.

9. REACH OUT TO QUIT YOUR ADDICTIONS

We all need support to quit the bad stuff whether it is workaholism, alcoholism, street drugs, or shopping too much. Find counseling, rehab, or a support group to get you to a better place. Anger that is not managed will destroy you and your marriage.

Get help.

10. FINISH WELL TOGETHER

Have a lifestyle plan that goes beyond the farm as you age together. Play together. Enjoy grandchildren: please do not ignore these precious little ones.

When you die, don’t you want to be rich in relationships? You cannot take your farm shares with you to the grave!

11. STOP TEXTING, START TALKING FACE TO FACE

Social media is fueling unfaithfulness in marriage. No secret emotional affairs for you. Be open with your mate.

12. CELEBRATE THE MILESTONES

Give your partner a special card, supper or night out. Bake a cake or pie to share with friends.

Strong families celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and engagements.

Cherish the markers of marriage.

13. SAVE SEX FOR MARRIAGE

Don’t live together or “shack up” before you have signed your marriage covenant, i.e. wed each other. The stats for the “almost married” common-law unions are pretty sobering. Those folks who live together before marrying are more likely to split.

Understand the crudeness of the saying, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Your partner may also be happy to look outside your bed for new partners if they did that so easily with you.

14. FILL EACH OTHER’S EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT OR “LOVE TANK”

Make deposits every day into the well-being of your spouse. Find out if they like to be loved with words, meaningful touch, gifts, quality time together, or acts of service. When was the last time you detailed the pick-up truck? If your guy loves to be loved with action, that will be amazing to him.

I have to stop, but I hope you get the picture. Divorce wreaks havoc in all of our agricultural families. I hurt when I see marriages fail. Let’s all work towards encouraging strong unions and how to prevent divorce so it’s not a threat to our farm’s legacy.

How to Prevent Divorce: I want to hear from you!

What do you do to keep your marriage strong?

Comment down below and let’s talk more about how to prevent divorce in farm couples!

You can also contact me today to learn about my farm succession planning and farm family coaching to build stronger relationships and a lasting legacy.

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post on how to prevent divorce on the farm, you might want to check these articles out too:

How to Build a Strong Relationship: Marriage Fitness for Farm Couples
Maintaining a Happy and Healthy Marriage on The Farm
Managing Your Marriage in the Muck

This article was originally published in 2016, and it’s been updated just for you.

Elaine is not travelling far these days during the GREAT PAUSE, so reach out for some zoom coaching today! She has time!

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

Book Elaine
for your next event

Contact Elaine to start the conversation.

+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

Contact Elaine