Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Farm Marriages: The Rest Of The Story

April 18, 2005

Here are some positive reader responses to my article, "Eight ways woman can make farmers miserable." The negative replies will follow in a subsequent column.

Response: The column which apparently upset some people was outstanding. If the shoe doesn't fit why would you be upset? Thanks for a great column - please don't apologize for it.

Response: I just finished reading, "Eight ways women can make a farmer miserable." I just wanted to let you know, I found the original article very humorous, creative and well written. I enjoyed picking out which number I could best categorize myself at, as my daughter did the same, . . . while laughing.

My husband, also, got a good laugh out of it. I liked the use of exaggeration and strength at the beginning of the article and the very subtle, soft tone at the end describing a farm husband, - "if you combine this with a guy who feels the farm is everything, . . . then let the fight begin."

I found it balanced between the sexes and well written. Interesting. Very interesting and FUNNY. VERY funny! Now you can do one on my in-laws!

Response: My wife and I read your column regularly and find you to be down to earth and straight forward. When the article about the, "Eight ways women make farmer miserable," came out, we read it for what it was; a commentary of a certain subset of farm wives. It corresponds directly with a certain subset of farm husbands.

We were surprised at the responses in the letters to the editor. There were quite a few really, really nasty comments that we thought were totally unneeded. Our assessment of these letters was your article hit too close to home for these people. The old adage, "If the shoe fits, wear it," seems to apply here. After rereading the original piece, the letter writers seems to fit some of the "eight ways."

Response: You received an unfair bashing concerning your article on the sins of the farm wife. I was relieved to finally see an article in support of the farm husbands. We need to realize there are no absolutes. Sometimes the wife is in error and sometimes the husband is in error, and it is usually a mixture of the two. I see myself in some of your articles and hopefully my wife will also see herself and we can adjust to make life better.

Response: I am a 23 year old wife of a farmer. I found the article quite humorous, and yes, parts of it were true. I often find myself thinking that a little help with household chores would be nice, and sometimes feel in competition with the in-laws, the land, ect.

But I always stop and think about why my husband spends so much time outside the house. He is working, working to make a good life for us the best way he knows how. So much of what he does is for me, for us. Also, I try to take an interest in the farming, and ask questions to learn more. My husband actually loves the fact that I show an interest and is always willing to explain things to me.

Here is my question to all those whining, poor, poor me wives that responded: If you do not want to be the dinner ready, "June Cleaver" wife, then why not get out there and get your hands dirty and help with the farming?

Response: Your eight ways women can make a farmer miserable really hit the nail on the head! If you omit the part about chasing men and hitting the bars, I would have sworn you were writing about my daughter-in-law.

My in-laws and husband have worked their whole lives to build a very successful farming operation and felt so very fortunate to have a son who wanted to farm and take it over some day. All that changed four years ago when he married "Daddy’s Little Princess."

While he worked hard for us in return, his wife wanted no part of it. She never once offered to bring supper to the field when we were working on his farm. Meanwhile, the daughter-in-law might be running around all day with her sister or visiting her mother.

My husband and I have gotten blamed for a lot of things and there was a total lack of communication between both my son and his wife. We have tried and tried to talk to them but we couldn’t even reach the point where the four of us could sit down around the table for a discussion on what we could do to improve things.

Meanwhile my son thinks everything his wife says and does is just great and he goes right along with her at the present time. A marriage counselor saved their marriage but it ruined the family farm. How one woman can have such power or influence over a man is beyond my comprehension.

Response: I think this was the first time I have ever read a column that told the other side of the story. We men aren’t perfect but we aren’t always the sole problem.

There were three of us sons farming. It wasn’t a picture perfect setting but I think we were doing quite well until the youngest sister-in-law came along. In your column you described her to a tee. She was willful, demanding, couldn’t care two-bits about the farm and had a very big mouth.

What she said and how she said it didn’t matter. She just had to get in that last jab. Words were spoken that cut like a knife. The tension was getting too much, especially between the wives.

(The writer went on to describe the breaking up on a 150 year farm, the way the three families have ended up, and shared his personal heartache. He related from personal experience how one person can bring down a farm and end a dream that the family had kept alive for 150 years.)