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Farm Couples And Stress

The many stresses of farming can strain a couple’s relationship. More and more farm spouses hold outside jobs while working closely together on the farm, which can create additional tension. Decisions made are likely to impact the entire family.

David Brown is a behavioral health state specialist with Iowa State University Extension. He says one of the most important things couples can do to reduce the tension is strengthen their communication skills.

"Start by negotiating schedules, maybe work on goals and actually write them down, and some simple check-ins, just how you doing today, things like that. That’s very important," says Brown. "One of the things I tell couples often is having a date night at least once a month because that’s a way that couples can have fun together, learn about each other. That’s one item that I think many couples forget about, having that scheduled date night."

Brown says conflict is a normal part of any relationship, but it’s important that couples manage conflict well.

"They need to soften the start-ups of how they get into difficult conversations and they need to catch themselves, if they start up badly in a conversation say, ‘back up, I need to back up’ and start again," he says. "If the conflict gets a little out of control, they need to just take a time-out and stop, and wait for about 20 minutes or so, do some things to kind of distract them from conflict, then come back and try again."

Sometimes it takes outside support to get a couple through their struggles. Talking to a pastor, a marital counselor, or classes on building relationships can be very helpful.