[This article was published on "Medium"]
In 2016, I published a book celebrating seventeen traditional farmwives from the Canadian Prairies. I asked them all seventeen questions, took photographs of them, and had each share a favourite recipe.
The women ranged in age from fifty-five to ninety. Between them, they had more than 700 years marriage experience. That’s a lot of marriage.
I knew the gift I was being given as I sat with these women and had them share their thoughts on life, on love, and on farming. I wanted to know what the hardest part of being a farmwife was, what the best part was, what advice would they give women marrying farmers today? I asked them about the legacy they’d like to leave behind.
I will always be grateful to these women for sharing their wisdom with me. I knew however, there was one question I would be a fool not to ask. (Remember, “700+ years” of marriage experience between them). And so…
I asked seventeen Canadian farmwives for advice on how to keep a marriage strong, this is what they said.
Work together and try to agree. Be realistic and compromise.
Take time to spend together — take vacations and family trips!
Do what you can together. Also, have hobbies.
Be prepared for a lot of give and take. Don’t let things bother you.
Learn to listen. Don’t try to change who you are, or who your spouse is. Also, if you’re having a bad day — visit an old and dear neighbour!
Marry your best friend. Plan your work so that you have time to relax. Respect one another.
Spend time together as a family, but also just the two of you. Share the same dreams and wishes.
Support your partner through the good and bad and always be there for one another.
Make time to enjoy each others company!
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Besides patience — communicate.
Life is so much easier when you know what the other is thinking and doing.Respect one another. Be adaptable and supportive. Plans can change — try to go with the flow.
Push for your marriage. Communicate what is important to you.
Do as many things together as you can.
One fact is — life is not just “living happily ever after”. a) share the same future goals and work towards them together b) keep communication open c) keep your own individual interests going and d) realize there will be hard times and e) keep a sense of humour.
Every day you get up — give each other a hug.