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Looking After our Most Precious Relationships


Written By
Tammy Thielman
BSW MSW RSW Mental Wellness Counsellor
Town and Country Counselling

Photos by
Victoria Skofteby

I don’t know about all of you but we have come to realize just how important relationships and collaboration really are not only to our business but to our own mental wellness.

Tammy Thielman wrote an incredible article about looking after our relationships for our Summer 2021 Issue of Trailblazher Magazine but it was too good and too important to not share on our blog as well.

How well do we treat ourselves and our partners? 

How often do we check in with what we, as women, need? Do we know what our loved ones need? 

Living rurally is such a big part of our lives and identities that we may put other things first, above ourselves and our important relationships. The livestock, crops and creative businesses we are caring for are at the top of our lists. While these are important, so are we, so are our loved ones and how we relate to them. Our most important relationships need our time and attention. When love flows both ways, we all benefit. 

In my mental health and wellness work with female farmers and business owners, I have discovered that we often treat our customers, crops and livestock better than ourselves. We forget to include ourselves in the circle of care on the farm. I see many women whose farms and businesses are thriving, but they need time to connect with others they care about and who care about them. 

We need to be able to receive love and caring in order to give it. 

We may be so focussed on creating, managing, farming and producing that we barely have time to look over at a cherished partner or friend and ask, “How are you? How was your day?” Or, letting this special person know, “I love and care about you. I care about your dreams, hopes and goals.” This special person may be ourselves. 

Taking time not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones is essential to our overall wellness as women, especially as women living rurally. We need healthy connections, relationships and support from friends, family and partners. For those of us who don’t have partners, all of these skills can be used to check in with ourselves. Self care is vital and part of holistic mental health and wellness. 

Remember that you matter, along with all that you care for and create. Your relationships, whether they’re a marriage or partnership, parenthood or friendship, are worthy of love, care and dedication beyond the day-to-day basics. Your relationship with yourself is also significant. Treat yourself and others with love and caring. 

Relationships are those important connections that nourish us. They can get buried beneath daily tasks: firewood, harvest, chores. Rural life can be filled with ups and downs, disappointments, stressors, long hours and many demands. Putting ourselves and our loved ones into the daily caring routine will reward us with renewed inspiration and energy. 

Plan a few minutes each day to dedicate to yourself and one another. Our intimate relationships, however you define them, feed us. Whether you have a wife, boyfriend, or are only-you, dedicate some moments for relationship health. 

Couples on farms and living rurally often face additional stressors: isolation, lack of resources, higher stress levels, fewer services and supports. Accessing support may mean hours of travel, fuel costs and financial strain. Getting support can be just another thing to do and it can add stress. 

Here are some skills that can help immediately with attending to relationships, both with ourselves and others: 

  1. Caring includes clear communication which many of us may not have had role modeled for us. When we look after our relationships, we can get so much more from living rurally. There can be less tension, more cooperation. There is support flowing both ways to one another. We can agree to disagree and when tensions rise, try to disagree with fair ground rules in place. Be clear, be fair and be focussed on understanding one another. 
  1. Learning to soften or give a little to see the other person’s side can mean lower stress levels. Begin with yourself: when we become gentler with ourselves, we can then use these skills to focus on our partner’s strengths and try to find a way through conflict. Learning to give a little can build understanding. Listen and try to understand. 
  1. Taking time to intentionally check in with our partner can improve the quality of our relationship, fuel romance, improve energy and creativity. For those of us that have families, the whole family benefits from adults who are less stressed and able to talk to one another. 

Some things we can check in about are: common goals, personal values, chores and routines, long and short-term goals, what we hope, dream and wish for. Time together is critical – whether it’s a hotdog roast or a night out, take a few sacred moments to connect while you are both in a state of rest and relaxation. 

For those rural women who aren’t in relationships and spend much time on their own, all of these communication skills can apply to ourselves as well as others. We all benefit from self check-ins, allowing ourselves to slow down, explore our plans, dreams and goals. 

Rural life as a business owner can be hectic. Days (and nights) can be filled with duties that belong to our multiple, often conflicting roles. Allow yourself and your partner to rest. Start small –  take a few minutes to just pause and notice your environment. If you begin this slowing-down practice, your partner may join in, maybe without even realizing. If you role model respectful communication, your partner may follow your lead. Disagree fairly, allow for honesty, look for a solution, create and pursue your common goals. 

Over time, you may find that you and your loved ones are less stressed and more aligned. People around you in life and business may notice a new calmness and clearer, more intentional way of being. 

Rural life is all-encompassing. A creative business can be demanding. A relationship is precious. Nurture your partnership with shared moments, intentional rest, a loving check in with the people in your life. They will notice your caring manner and the sacred time that you give them. 

This can only help our hearts and minds feel full and our creativity flow. 

Tammy Thielman is a small sheep farmer and counsellor in private counselling practice in the BC Interior. Her office is a cabin on her family farm. 

Town and Country Counselling


April 23, 2022

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