We recently did a podcast on this subject (Listen HERE), and it really resonated with listeners. And, I know why. Homesteading is a big commitment. It’s something that if you and your spouse aren’t on board 110% together or aren’t fully connected can make or break you. Sound too serious? Well, it is. In our podcast, we explored five ways to make sure you and your spouse are tackling this homesteading life with all its projects, ups & downs, and all its challenges with as much vigor and camaraderie as possible, as a couple.
1. Stay In Your Lane
We all have our own set of gifts and talents, and these can always always be improved upon no matter how good we are at them. Of course, we have opinions on matters that we are not particularly gifted on, but that doesn’t mean that we know exactly how to approach that matter. When it comes to projects, there’s no shortage on the homestead. You’re building coops. You’re setting up flocks. You’re creating your gardens. You’re tending to your herds. There’s a neverending list, and that list is much easier to tackle if you can take it on together. Maybe you’re both equally good or bad at the same things, but more often than not, our skill sets differ. We need to respect this. Just because I have an opinion about how the coop should be built doesn’t mean I should take over the build from my husband who actually knows the step-by-step way to build. Just because he might not like the way I’m painting a wall doesn’t mean that he should swoop in and try to take it over from me or tell me I should change. We of course can respectfully suggest changes and kindly express our opinions. Becoming “managers” or “saviors” doesn’t really help in couple situations. It can demean your spouse and their confidence in the lane where they typically excel. So, stay in your lane. Discuss things, but know where your strengths lie and be assured of your spouse’s strengths.
2. Communication. Communication. Communication.
Anything you’ll ever see or read about a couple’s success mention communication. It’s all the rave, as it should be. Everyone has a different perspective or thought at any one time. Even if you’ve been with your spouse for 18 years like we have and know the other like the back of your hand, you’re separate people with separate thoughts. This is important to remember when you’re discussing a homesteading situation/project/challenge. You may be right in the thick of some tragedy like your family diary cow going down or a fox just wiped out your whole flock or maybe you’re in the middle of preserving this year’s berry harvest or you have newborn lambs to manage. Whatever it is, you’re both going to have ideas on how to properly tackle the situation at hand. Communicate them, respectfully and calmly. Talk things through. Try your very best to keep your temper in check and not to yell. Anger rarely helps any situation, especially one with your spouse. Learn how to verbalize your thoughts clearly with an even tone, and learn how to in turn listen attentively when your spouse verbalizes theirs. Effective and calm communication is incredibly vital to your homesteading operation being a raving success.
3. Staying Humble
The above leads me right into this section… There will be times when you do lose your temper. There will be times when the baby needs you, the animals need you, the garden looks terrible and needs tending, your house needs to be cleaned, and on and on. You’ll feel stretched thin. You’ll feel overwhelmed. In those moments, the easiest people to lash out at are your family, especially your spouse. Deep down, you know they’ll forgive you for your poor behavior, but at that moment, you can’t control yourself any longer. It might not be a full-blown fight or screaming match. It may even just be a sharp tone at an inappropriate time. We’re human. We make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t atone for them. Apologizing to your spouse for treating them disrespectfully in your moment of weakness is always the honorable thing to do, always. You may not feel like it yet or even want to at all, but the truth of the matter is, you must. It’ll help you regain control of your emotions, and it’ll show your spouse that you acknowledge what happened and care about them enough to show humility. Pride has no place in a marriage, especially not one on a homestead where there are a million and one ways to become inundated with tasks at any one time.
4. Staying Connected
When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get caught up. There might be days you barely get to sit down and have a bite to eat, let alone give time to your spouse. There might be days when you forget to kiss each other until right before bed. You’re going to have to be intentional. No matter how busy you are or feel, STOP. Stop and take the extra five seconds to hug and kiss your spouse in the morning. Stop for five minutes to ask them about their day. What are they thinking? How are they feeling about (insert topic)? Show that you care. It doesn’t have to take long or it can take as long as you need. Maybe you do need that preplanned fancy date night or maybe just staying at the dinner table for a few minutes after the kids are excused is enough. Try holding hands as you’re riding somewhere in the car or walking to your pastures. If Arthur was writing this, he’d say there’s something powerful in the occasional booty slap and crooked smile with that charming eye twinkle. haha The point is, no matter how you approach it, stay connected. The homesteading life is a lot easier to tackle when you have a rock-solid partner by your side.
5. Showing Gratitude
Two simple words- thank you. They pack a powerful punch. You have so much to be thankful for. We all do. Odds are, your spouse is a blessing to you. It’s why they’re your spouse. You chose each other for a multitude of reasons- to grow together and walk through whatever life throws at you, together. It doesn’t matter if your spouse does some little daily task or accomplishes something gigantic. Thank them. Let them know you appreciate them and their effort. Everyone enjoys being appreciated. Say those two little words for anything and everything, as many times as you think to do so. Or you can write a surprise thank you note to your spouse and hide it somewhere where only they will find it. “Thank you,” tells your spouse that you know the time and effort they sacrificed to complete the task. It tells them you saw their handiwork and admire it. It tells them that you cherish them. Show your gratitude. Thank you, a thousand times thank you.
There are many things we could add to the list, but for now, we’ll stop at these five. Practicing these in your daily life makes such a difference to how you approach everything in life, especially on the homestead. You and your spouse are in this together. You flourish or fail, together. You choose each other in the beginning. Compound on this choice every single day of your life, by treating each other with the utmost respect and undying love.