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Lead with love: Date nights on the farm

Elaine Froese for Progressive Dairy Published on 17 April 2020
Love on the farm

As the co-author of Farming’s In-Law Factor, I spent a year of Tuesdays researching, interviewing and asking tough questions about marriage on the farm.

There is precious little research on how to keep farm marriages strong. Spouses tell me they are longing for some marriage time blocked out from the whirlwind of raising a young family on the farm.



Divorce is not the option anyone marrying envisions for their future. The threat of divorce stealing assets from a farm business causes premature graying or baldness in founders. (I just made that up.) Anxiety over the uncertainty of your future is not a happy feeling to have.

In the old days, when a couple reached 25 years of wedded bliss, there would be a large community celebration in the church or hall with dancing, feasting, corsages and speeches. (A corsage is a small clutch of flowers pinned to the bride’s dress. I love to make them, but there is not a great demand for them these days.)

Our neighborhood has had four divorces on farms in the last seven years. We don’t go to many anniversary celebrations, which is sad.

Regardless of your marital status, it is time to pay attention to cherishing your relationship, and not just by lip service. Actions speak louder than words.

Here are some practical ways to stay connected in the weekly grind of life on the farm:


1. Decide your relationship is a top priority. Your mindset and attitude will influence all of your behavior toward your spouse.

2. Ask your mate how they like to be cared for by you. This is a two-way street. I am a big fan of loving, physical touch and words of affirmation. My spouse likes it when I do things for him that are unexpected.

3. Pay attention to the waves of energy. Our Alpha marriage course encouraged couples to sit down with coffee, put on favorite tunes and just be together to talk about the state of the union. Do this one hour a week and see what happens. When we were dating, we had lots of dates on farm equipment and would snatch whatever together time was available. You might have to get creative with this time blocking.

4. Lead with love. I was deeply touched when I heard Lesley Kelly of High Heels and Canola Fields fame suggest this as her strategy on her farm. When she hits the door archway, her hands grab the door frame, she takes a deep breath and tells herself: “Lead with love”. She was the emcee of Connect – The Heart of the Farm, presented by Women in Ag in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She also has a huge social media following with an encouraging tone.

5. Take a social media break. Don’t let Instagram or Facebook suck you into the comparison game of life. Comparing your love life, farm situation or kitchen to others is going to rob you of joy. Instead, pick up the phone and call your spouse to say “I love you.” Stevie Wonder can help you out with the right words if needed.

6. Monitor your physical and mental health. It’s sad that anxiety and depression are increasing in women and younger people. As a depression survivor of a serious postpartum event, I want you to pay attention to how your body integrates with your mental health. Hormones rage as we age, and specialists can help you get back on track. We committed to marriage until death do us part, and sometimes that death thing has come close with accidents and tough health issues. Ruth Bell Graham was asked once if she had ever considered divorcing her famous husband, Billy. Her response was “Divorce, never. Murder, yes.”


7. Learn some new conflict skills. The conflict training I received has made my life a lot better. Once you understand that you always get to choose your response to anger, hurt, fear or frustration, you can up your emotional intelligence game. Fighting in marriage is not bad. It gives clarity and helps make great decisions when there is resolution and a deep desire to attack the challenges, not the person.

8. Share ideas for fun on the farm or off the farm. I’m writing this while listening to hubby’s playlist and enjoying a great wood fire he built. He just scratched my back. We have created a space to get away from our farm that is only 16 minutes away. Some people have done this with a small cabin in the woods on the same home quarter or just over the hill. Carve out some time to unplug from your devices, and just be together. You don’t need an agenda.

9. Enjoy silence together. Ride together or take a walk down the road. Take a flashlight if it is really dark; you might scare a skunk or porcupine along the way. (I speak from experience.)

Celebrate the good. Strong families get this. Write love notes or text happy thoughts. Keep cherishing each other all year long. Lead with love.  end mark

ILLUSTRATION: Illustration by Kristen Phillips.

Elaine Froese celebrates each day as a gift. Love one another. Tweet Elaine Froese here with your #healingstories4ag

Elaine Froese
  • Elaine Froese

  • Certified Farm Family Coach
  • Email Elaine Froese

Books to read

Here are Elaine Froese’s favorite books to encourage stronger love bonds on the farm. If you don’t read, find the audio version.

  • Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

  • 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

  • The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick

  • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

  • Marriage Fitness by Mort Fertel

  • A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary D. Chapman

  • The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason

  • Farming’s In-Law Factor by Elaine Froese and Dr. Megan McKenzie