The stress of farming can strain a couple’s relationship, but the relationship doesn’t have to break, says David Brown, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension.
Farmers often are dealing with stressful work environments and job-related isolation, as well as multiple conditions and situations beyond their control, ranging from the weather to tariffs and trade disputes.
Work-home challenges often occur because the farming profession is so closely tied to the lives of all family members involved. Husbands and wives often work closely together, and farm decisions are likely to impact the entire family, says Brown, who specializes in family life issues.
Take steps to manage stress
The increasing financial cost of farming adds to the tension. More farm spouses hold two or more jobs. Some spouses work off the farm, some do the farm bookkeeping, all while maintaining roles of primary caregiver and home manager. Because of this, there could be additional tension, as spouses are more involved in the farm business and farm decision-making.
Strain within a farm couple’s relationship isn’t unusual, considering how closely connected the farm family is to the farm business. However, Brown says there are steps couples can take to relieve the tension.
“The most important step is to communicate. That could mean talking about or negotiating schedules, plans and goals, or simply checking in on your spouse to see how they are feeling,” he says. “Another important step is to show appreciation for each other. Saying thank you or telling your spouse how much you appreciate them helps to promote connection and supports the relationship bond. Also, scheduling a date night at least once a month helps to strengthen this most important relationship.”
Relationship workshops offered
Maintaining a stable couple relationship takes a lot of effort. Sometimes people can benefit from additional support. ISU Extension offers a variety of relationship education opportunities.
• “ELEVATE: Taking Your Relationship to the Next Level” is a series of workshops for couples in many different stages of a relationship, such as preparing for marriage, in a long-term relationship, joining a blended family or expecting a child soon. Couples learn and practice seven core skills essential to maintaining a healthy and stable relationship.
• “Together We Can: Creating a Healthy Future for Our Family” is a series of workshops to help parents gain knowledge and skills for creating healthy family and co-parenting relationships.
ISU Extension also offers educational programs for professionals who work with couples and families. In “Healthy Relationship Education Training,” professionals learn skills and principles that research indicates can build and sustain healthy relationships. The program follows the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Model.
For more information on relationship education offered by ISU Extension in your county, contact your county Extension office.
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