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“Elaine is a marriage counselor, even though she says she is a coach!” says the uncomfortable farmer after a coaching call. I tell my clients “counseling is about recovery, but coaching is about discovery.” I want farm couples to discover what will work for them to be happier in their relationship as a couple, and as farm partners. Sometimes I ask hard questions that irk people, but they know they need to deal with making their marriage foundation stronger.

My farmer is male. Your farmer may be female. Please don’t judge me for writing this article from my perspective. Use the tips to enhance your partnership.

John Gottman’s book “The 7 principles for making marriage work” is a keeper.

Gottman talks about developing friendships in your marriage and learning to make repairs. Buy a copy for wedding gifts, anniversaries, and one for yourself. Our 41st wedding anniversary is July 4th. We married on Independence Day which is of course an oxymoron for marriage!

Here are some of my top of head tips on how to love a farmer:

  1. Respect him. Author Emmerson Eggerichs  (Love and Respect ) has suggested that men are looking for respect and women need love in relationships. I suspect that your man needs to hear words of affirmation from you that you are “proud of him and appreciate his character and decision-making ability.” Filling up the emotional bank account for each person in your family just takes courage to speak truth and love into the other person’s life. Be intentional about doing it, not just on special occasions. Do you currently show respect to your farmer?
  2. Cook. “Hot meals” is on the top of my farmer’s caring list. We took the time to explore the 12 ways we each like to be cared for, wrote it down, and laughed. Wes feels deeply loved when he walks into the house and can smell something good stewing. Only 21% of Canadians still cook from scratch, so affirm your cooking skills and show them off to your family.  When was the last time you cooked your hubby’s favourite supper? He cares. You can also love your farmer by cooking healthy foods and not stuffing him full of sugary sweets. Love your physical hearts with smart cooking. If you are like my coaching team member Lydia, who is a farmer. She buys bulk meals from local Hutterites to manage her family’s busy schedules at LunaField Farm.
  3. Time. Smalley and Trent use the concept of “word pictures” to convey strong meaning in marriage. When Wes reports that he feels he is getting “leftovers” he is telling me I am spending more energy on my clients, readers, and audience than on him. I don’t like to hear about this kind of leftovers, so I need to check-in and ask how he is doing regarding the time we are spending together enjoying each other and being connected. Quality time is one of the five love languages described by author Gary Chapman. Are you spending more time with grandchildren and neglecting the time needs of your spouse? Could you block off at least one hour a week as “marriage time” to work on the state of your union? Walk. Date. Talk.
  4. Service. Someone suggested, “clutter is energy constipation”. Our lives can be cluttered with busy activities and taking care of too much stuff. If you are ready to simplify things, how about attacking a project together as a couple. I know a wife who was thrilled to see the ugly old barn burn down (on purpose) as it was part of the view from her home she hated. When I mentioned that the patio furniture needed to be packed away for the winter, I felt deeply loved when that same day the guys hauled it away to the shed on the flatbed. Small acts of kindness really mean a lot to a weary heart. How tidy and clean is your home sanctuary? Clean up together. Mending is also a sign of love. Patches anyone?
  5. Candy under the pillow. Do you still know your farmer’s favourite treat? Is it licorice, almonds, or chocolate? Buy these, and keep some on hand to pop into the lunch kits to the field. A small treat communicates “I am thinking of you and I care about you.” (nuts don’t have sugar, just fat, oh well!).
  6. Discuss debt together. Please talk about spending large sums of money and what impact that will have on the family. Women are tired of off-farm jobs subsidizing the farm cash flow only to discover that their opinion was not brought to the loan negotiating table. Disaster looms when debt is hidden and not openly discussed to explain the “why we are doing this” factors. A young hurting farmer confides that he has been separated due to a large dairy debt that was not ratified by his wife, she was deeply hurt that she was kept in the dark. Women, are you using too much “retail therapy” to compensate for marriage deficits?
  7. Make repairs quickly. Nip conflicts in the bud, and don’t let stresses simmer. Have a 10’clock rule that you will commit to resolving conflicts before bedtime so that you can enjoy intimacy and not let the sun set on your anger. Some days you may not be able to resolve things in a day and may then work to agree to “park the issue” until the next business meeting or coffee time.
  8. Redemptive separation. Addictions like alcohol make require time apart for therapy and rehabilitation.  The intent of redemptive separation is to practice tough love to get the person you love to change behaviors, and come back to the marriage in a healthy way. If your marriage is carrying issues that need counseling therapy, a doctor’s diagnosis, or spiritual care, get help now.  I love my farmer so much I check to see if he is keeping up with his medical care. When is the last time you saw your doctor? Do you even have a doctor? Drugs and alcohol are not good to stress relievers, they cause more harm and hurt to farm families than many people know.
  9. Kiss often. I don’t need to say more.

Have fun loving your farmer and put the “zest” back into your marriage this year. Resiliency for farming starts with a strong marriage foundation…and for those couples who are co-habitating ( or as the Aussies say “Almost married.)/ We all want to love and be loved.

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Elaine Froese and her team of coaches are here to serve your farm family. Reach out at www.elainefroese.com/contact. Invite Elaine to speak in the fall at your event.

Did you enjoy How to love a farmer? You might want to check these articles out too:

When it is hard to honour Mom what can I do?
Dealing with Depression: Reflections from the Quiet Chair
Conflict Resolution: The Daughter-In-Law Barrier

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.

$15

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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