Farming with your spouse can be a really a beautiful way to strengthen your relationship, but if you're not careful it can also put a strain on it. In the 2 years we have spent building our farm we have implemented a few things that help us work better together and not allow the farm to become a source of contention between us. I wanted to share some of those tools with you.
This is key, just like in any relationship, communication is where there are the most challenges. You either don't communicate enough or every conversation you have ends up being about farm business. We had to set boundaries on these conversations to save our sanity and honestly eliminate some burnout. So we created two main rules around farm communication.
1. No farm talk after night chores
This was implemented because we were driving ourselves into the ground with farm preparation and planning, so much so that we forgot how to just relax. The late night conversation of what animals to bring in, where to put fences, how to store hay, when to... well you get it, it was a lot, so no farm talk after night chores became our new rule to save our sanity.
2. Plan a bi-weekly brain dump & prioritization meeting.
This was so helpful. If you and your spouse are not on the same page with what projects are a priority, there will always be conflict. We have farm business meetings biweekly because that is what works best for us. For others it may be daily, monthly, or even quarterly. During this meeting we brain dump every project, purchase, and farm to-do we can think of onto our dry erase board. Once we complete the brain dump we start to prioritize and plan out everything we would like to get done before our next meeting. This process allows us to plan our weeks, both be on the same page, and decrease the mental load of trying to remember all the things that need to be done around the farm.
Manage Your Expectations
Anytime you are working with another person there will be challenges. No two people really work the same way. Jordan and I have very different work styles and expectations. Jordan is more of a perfectionist and can be very precise. I am the over zealous type who just want to get the job done as quickly as possible, so I don't also measure before I cut or use a level when I hang something. I just eyeball it and if it's close enough, I am happy. Neither way is necessarily wrong, unless you're building a house, maybe then you want to measure and ensure things are level. Anyway... we just had to work on finding ways to work well together without fighting over the project. Both of us had to learn how to give and take a little in order to work better together on the farm. Learning how to manage our expectations of each other and of our farm have helped so much. We know each others work style and we try our best to be realistic about our projects. Jordan doesn't expect that I will always use a level when I hang something and I don't expect him to build a chicken coop in two hours.
Don't forget to enjoy the journey. So many times I am in planning mode and I forget that I can enjoy the farm. Sit outside, enjoy the work you have done. Even if it's not complete, enjoy it. If you are not having fun building your farm you aren't going to enjoy it when it's done, because let me tell you friend farm work is never done. Farm work is hard but so rewarding. If you find that you are resenting the amount of work it requires, maybe you need to take a break. Not a long break, but enough to breathe and remember why you are building this life in the first place. For us, we like to go downtown and visit our favorite local shops. Our brains and bones get to rest this way.
Building and Growing Together
Once we overcame a lot of our challenges, they started to blossom into benefits. Because we work so differently, we can use our separate skills to complete our projects even better. I have learned that I can use my analytic and organized brain to create plans, workflows, and designs. Jordan is better with projects that require precision and heavy labor. Farming has helped us build a stronger marriage and truly brought us closer together. We were able to build this farm together and really be united in our mission as a couple. We learned that we are capable of some really hard things. We learned how to work well together. We learned how to communicate with each other better. We learned how to support each other better. It doesn't happen overnight, it is a slow process. One day and one step at a time we built this farm and in doing so built some amazing strength into our marriage.
How can I pray for you?