To Love And To Cherish – When marriage includes a joint venture

To Love And To Cherish – When marriage includes a joint venture

Lifestyle | Posted by - November 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Carbon credits are a balancing act. So it seems only natural that a couple balancing both their marriage and their business would sell them. Brad and Rebecca Rabiey launched The Carbon Farmer in January 2008, binding them together in a parallel union.

"Our hearts are in the business and our hearts are with each other, from a personal side of things, so it's a double marriage," says Brad.

After emigrating from Poland, Brad's grandparents established their farm in the 1940s, growing grains in the Peace Country area of Northern Alberta. With the average Canadian producing five tonnes of carbon emissions a year, Brad saw a way he could help the environment and honour his family heritage at the same time: he'd plant trees as carbon offsets. And he'd get the love of his life, Rebecca, to help him.

"This is such a huge passion for Brad, it being his family farm," she says. "To be able to see him live his dream, and really encourage that, to help in that process and provide support, it's a wonderful thing to do, especially with my husband. It's bonding, it's really strengthening."

Still, working with the same person you share a bed with has its own special set of challenges. In the early days of carbon farming, it didn't occur to either of them to define their individual roles or formally divide their duties.

"We should have had a conversation," laughs Rebecca. "In the beginning we just kind of went with the grand plan of what we wanted to do. We went with the flow and did try to play to our strengths, but the formal conversation didn't necessarily occur."

Going with the flow certainly worked for their relationship, leading to their engagement a month after The Carbon Farmers launch, followed by their summer wedding. But there wasn't much time to celebrate.

"Trying to work full time, then come home, then put the hours into the business, that wore on us after a while for sure," says Rebecca, who still works full time as a social worker.

Meanwhile, Brad says managing a relationship while growing a business takes a special type of diplomacy. "It's really difficult to have a heated discussion on business strategy or an expenditure, then talk about what's for supper."

"The personal-professional dynamic gets a little dicey sometimes," agrees Rebecca. "Wanting to be encouraging, and at the same time wanting the business to succeed, which sometimes means being critical, that's a hard line to walk sometimes."

But after five years in business together, including a pitch on Dragons' Den (which aired November 21, 2012) the Rabieys have some words of wisdom for couples considering a joint venture.

"Always make sure you carve time in your calendar for each other that is non-business time," says Brad. "It's very easy to be constantly talking about business and it's necessary to separate oneself from time to time. That's the biggest thing we've learned along the way."

"If you're honest and open about expectations, what you're capable of and what you want, I think everything else falls into place from there," says Rebecca.

By YouInc Columnist Tiffany Burns

Tags: lifestyle, relationships, carbon, farmer, brad rabiey, rebecca rabiey, business, heart, passion

Michelle Sharp-Benson
November 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

The same way it takes a special child to dedicate their youth and hours and years of training to be a professional/successful athlete it too takes special people to be able to live and work together.
My husband and I do everything together and somehow we still aren't sick of each other lol.
Everything from the gym to work to kids amd well...everything in between we do it all together and enjoy it greatly.
I do agree though that you NEED to set aside time for each other and focus only on each other.
I know so many people who say "I just couldn't do it".
We realize though how truly fortunate we are. Life is so short and most couples spend the majority of it apart due to work. We are blessed...truly.
It isn't always butterflies and rainbows but it works for us.
Thank you for sharing this story with us.
We wish Rebecca and Brad much success in both love and business :)

Andy David
November 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Like a business, marriage is not a two way street.  It is a one way street with two people walking that street (hand in hand) in the same direction heading to the same destination.  9 years and counting with no regrets.

Christy Richardson
November 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Together since high school, partnering and opening our two children's boutiques has definitely brought us closer.  It's great to talk to someone who completely "gets it" and works as hard as you do to make your business a success.

Great communication, an open mind and patience helps us get through the stressful times.

I feel very blessed.


Shanyn Silinski
November 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

We have done a lot together in the past 10 years - farmed (and trust me when you've worked cattle or harvested with someone you know you've worked hard together), we worked together for him to succeed at University as a Mature Student, he and I parent together.  Love isn't looking at each other over the years, it is standing and walking together in the same direction, holding each other's hands.  We are each other's sounding board, cheering section and have perfected the single person wave :-)

Natalie Currie
November 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I so enjoyed their pitch on Dragon's Den last night. Perhaps I loved the response they received even more. 

Life and business are often one-in-the-same. Both require patience, nurturing and good communication.

Nick Lowry
November 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Joint owner with my wife of our company. While it can have it's tricky spots, I find it a great business relationship as I can trust her completely. We find it better to split up areas of the business for us to focus on but both value the others feedback in all areas. I agree with the above article that it is imperative to carve out some time for us (ie away from the business, both with and without our daughte). 



Shauna Harper
November 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Love that you invested in them Arlene! You always conduct yourself with such integrity. Also, this article was great timing. My hubby and I just started to work together and can definitely learn from this. 

Jason Maskell
November 30, 2012 at 12:44 am

This is an educational article and comments that I wish I seen prior to joining my now ex- girlfriend's business 3 years ago. We both had a different skill set and thought it would work but all it did was create conflict, as she would not allow me to do what I excelled at without always looking over my shoulder. I now realize that she was just looking for someone to control rather then help grow the business. Lesson learned on my part but without that experience I wouldn't have even considered starting my own retail business. I guess some good came out of it!

Lisa Ghaffari
December 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Marriage in itself is challenging at times, but when you also have 3 children, a household and a growing business together, it becomes a great juggling act.  Most of the time things fall into place and run smoothly, other times, things become unravelled and you try not to pass on your frustrations with the business onto your children. My husband and I have always worked on our businesses together, but this last venture of creating a superior brand of roasted superior coffee and expanding our distribution has proven to be the most challenging by far.   We are learning as we go and I can honestly say I think we are on our way to successfully expand and fulfill our wishes for the company without jeopardizing the happiness of our kids.


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