As 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?
“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?