Love on the land: Helping farmers grow healthy relationships

Life on the land can be great, but it can also put a lot of pressure on romantic relationships. Now, rural health experts from the University of South Australia have launched a new online resource to help farmers build and maintain a healthy relationship with their partner.

The new ‘Building healthy relationships’ module is based on what research shows will help couples stay in successful relationships.

Offered through ifarmwell* – a free online toolkit that helps farming communities cope effectively with life’s challenges – the 30 to 60-minute module will help farmers to check in on their relationship, explore how to improve the quality of their relationship, and learn how to repair it when things get tough.

UniSA Research Fellow, Dr Chloe Fletcher, says maintaining a healthy relationship is incredibly important for farmers and their families.

“When you live on a farm and in a small community, romantic relationships can feel intense, in a way that might not happen for people living in the city,” Dr Fletcher says.

“Farmers tend to be more physically and socially isolated than people in the city. They often spend more time with their partner – not only living and socialising, but often also working together – and share more resources, interests, and friends.

“Farmers also work notoriously long hours, often alone, with long workdays leaving little energy to connect meaningfully with their partner; this can put pressure on a relationship and lead to frustration and resentment.

“Sometimes stress within a romantic relationship can even lead to mental health challenges, which is why it is so important for farmers to invest time in the wellbeing of their relationship.”

The new relationship module delivers proactive content that is relatable to farmers and their lives.

Third generation farmer, John Gladigau, has lived and farmed in the Northern Mallee region of South Australia all his life. Over the past year, he worked with ifarmwell to provide valuable insights from his lived experience to ensure the new relationship content is engaging and relevant to farmers’ lives.

“As with all the material produced by ifarmwell, the new relationship module works through aspects in a down to earth manner with thought provoking examples and a realistic approach. It gave me a lot to think about and reflect upon in my own life and relationships,” Gladigau says.

“There are activities that will help farmers to check in on the quality of their romantic relationship; practical strategies to connect and build closeness with their partner; and tips for managing stress during disagreements or conflicts that will inevitability arise.

“Farmers depend on their partner for support. Having a strong relationship with their partner will help farmers not only take care of their own wellbeing and their partner’s but also the wellbeing of their farm.”

To find out more, visit:

Notes to editors:

  • *The ifarmwell website is based on more than 10 years’ research by a team of researchers led by Associate Professor Kate Gunn, as well as input from hundreds of farmers and supporters from the health and agricultural sectors.
  • The researchers gratefully acknowledge the farmers who provided feedback on this module and the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation who funded this work.

/UniSA Release. View in full here.