From February 13th to 15th, 2015 (over Valentine’s Day), 14 people gathered at Fiddlehead Farm in Ontario, Canada for a Holistic Management® Marriage Enrichment session. Several members of the Kingston CRAFT network and beyond had come out, as couples, to learn from Holistic Management educators Tony and Fran McQuail of Meeting Place Organic Farm. While many of the participants had completed the Holistic Management program in the past, the McQuails had a new offering for farmers.
Not so many years ago Fran & Tony led couples enrichment weekend workshops within the Quaker community. They alluded to the workshops during their Holistic Management class, and three years later Heather and Steve of Fiddlehead Farm found themselves wondering what that would involve. Could the couples enrichment weekend be equally appreciated by the farmers in their area? Many producers have built businesses together as couples, and talk often turns to relationships.
Here’s what Heather and Steve had to say about the experience:
“Holistic Management is an important process for balancing our business and personal lives in the context of farming. It is all too easy for the business to dominate our personal lives. Keeping the two in balance is a constant process of self-monitoring and self-assessment. Part of that assessment often came back to the unique tensions that sharing a business with a romantic partner create. Living and working with the same person all the time can be a lovers’ dream, but it can just as easily be the fomenting grounds for conflict and frustration.
“Given that many of our professional lives depend on the success of our personal relationships it seemed natural to turn to people who had been through the challenges of farming and who understood the importance of taking a holistic approach to that challenge. Tony and Fran were the perfect choice; they pulled out their old files and refocused their couples enrichment program with farmers in mind. The structure and wealth of personal experience they brought made the weekend a life-enriching event.
“We found ourselves surrounded by friends over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Communication was the focus of the workshop. From group and couple based discussions through to exercises in communication and effective dialoging we worked at identifying the “ruts” in our relationships and how to get out of them. We learnt to express our point of view by identifying our perceptions, thoughts, feelings, wants and behaviours. We used a relationship inventory to highlight our diverging views on where we rocked as a couple and where we could be doing better.
“No relationship is perfect and no relationship works without maintenance. Through sharing our feelings, reflective listening, dialoguing and writing love letters we set a foundation for future maintenance. Talking through points of conflict and frustration has given us a sense of how to work constructively on our relationship. The tools gained from Tony and Fran will help us in the continual process of appreciating each other while working to resolve, heal, and grow from our differences.”