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How can I prevent my relationships from falling apart from the pressures of farming?

There's no denying that farming can strain a marriage or business partnership. This is one of the most frightening risks associated with a farming career. But there are things you can do to minimize the risk and protect your relationships.

Strategies:

  • Try to be clear from the beginning about your personal and family goals and visions. Get on the "same page."
  • Make sure that your farm business fits with your family's lifestyle.
  • Learn about work and communications styles and develop your communication skills.
  • Read books and/or take classes about managing relationships.
  • Develop positive habits such as regular family or business meetings.

Resources:

  • Purdue's Farm and Family Connections series has a number of relevant publications, including: Communication in the Family; Balancing Work and Family; Recognizing and Managing Stress; and Involving the Family in Goal Setting and Decision Making. You can view each of these online at www.agecon.purdue.edu/extension/programs/fbm21/connections.htm
  • Holistic Management (R) helps families and farm partners clarify their goals and develop an improved decision-making process. http://www.holisticmanagement.org/
  • NESFI's Exploring the Small Farm Dream workbook and course encourages aspiring farmers to discuss their goals and values. Some course participants have said--only slightly tongue-in-cheek--that it was the best marriage counseling they ever had. 
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