Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Readers Respond To Column On Unhappy Marriages

April 6, 1998

Wife abusive: I read your weekly column, "With Empty Nest, Another Bird Flies Away." I lived a 40-year marriage quite differently. I married a farm girl. Three months after the altar ceremony I became a S.O.B.

Her verbal outbursts continued. I begged her to go to her Pastor for counseling but it was, "You go, you're the one that needs it." Losing patience, I started threatening, "When I have met my obligation to my family, this partnership will be dissolved." There was still no relief from the verbal abuse.

She was a good cook, took good care of the house, and raised three tremendous children. I thought I showed her a good living but still this verbal abuse and depressed condition of hers drove me to petitioning her for divorce. I met another woman and haven't been called an S.O.B. for over a year, which is a 40-year record.

- A North Dakota farmer

Husband rejecting her: There are no words to describe my feelings of your article entitled, "With Empty Nest, One More Bird Flies Away." The tears and sobs of grief, guilt and sorrow were overwhelming as I tried to read it. It describes so vividly what I’m experiencing with my husband. How you, clear up in North Dakota, can know my unbearable life right now can only be the work of God for me.

For over 40 years we lived on the farm, raised four beautiful children and had twelve wonderful grandchildren. After a year of devastating silence on his part, I finally couldn't take his rejection any longer and told him so. He then said that he was tired of being married to me and wanted out.

He has also mostly drawn away from our family, neighbors and friends. I have always supported my husband's work, was a full time homemaker/Mom while the children were small.

I ache to go back to our large farm home and start over with my husband. He refuses to go for counseling although I am really benefitting from it. Our whole family is suffering and can't do anything. Thank you for letting me share my grief. I don't know if divorce is ahead. The thought is too much to comprehend yet. I married for life - I thought. - A Missouri farm woman

Unwanted divorce: Two of your articles really hit home. When I tried to share my feelings with my husband, his insecurities surfaced. Rather than work with me on our relationship, he accused me of being "unstable" and a "roller coaster."

He refused to acknowledge our issues and convinced himself that divorcing me would restore stability to his life. I loved him unconditionally and accepted the baggage he brought to our marriage. I just wanted him to know and understand the person he was sharing his life with.

Finally, I did not resist the divorce because I desperately needed and wanted him to wake up and fight for our relationship, to remain married to me because I was a valued part of his life.

The months since our divorce have been extremely painful. As a strong independent woman, I do not enjoy the sudden and unexpected bursts of grief, feelings of rejection and betrayal I am forced to deal with. I recognize this as part of a healing process which will allow me to grow as a person.

I feel sorry that my ex-husband prefers the tight grasp of control and the stability of denial to the thrill of experiencing the freedom that comes from sharing one's inner self with a loved and trusted partner. Thanks for the articles. I would never wish these feelings on another person but feel less crazy knowing I'm not alone.

-A North Dakota woman.

Wants kindness and respect: Every year the unkindness worsens. Every thought or idea of mine is put down and the farm is always first. I m becoming more depressed as time passes. I've given many years to this man and this farm. Do I really need to throw it away? All I ask is some respect and kindness.

After the kids went off to colleges and work, life wasn't fun. Now it's plain hell. Verbal abuse!!!! For the past few years I have not traveled with him in a car unless someone else is driving. I'm a prisoner with a mad man if I cross him while driving. Due to my health circumstances, I need to stop while traveling for rest stops. He argues about this.

Love has been gone a long time.

- A Kansas farm woman.

Hurts add up: First, I want to thank you. I have been married a very stormy 22 years. We have been for counseling at least five times. I tried about everything to get him to see how unkind his behavior is toward me. Every day those hurts add up to the only answer that I can come up with. That when the kids are out of high school maybe I can put all this behind me and pursue my hopes and dreams also.

Your column has given me peace of mind, knowing there is one person out there who really understands beside us women that are married to these men. - A South Dakota farm woman.

End of rope: I have been living this type of situation for over 18 years and am at the end of my rope trying to cope with it. When I read your article, I was stunned. It was like you had been observing us and reading my mind. It hit so close to home I had tears come to my eyes.

I'm glad I'm not the only one living with this but I hate to hear of others going through what I am now. I don't think he would ever agree to counseling. I have considered divorce but I still love him. I just don't like him very much at times! We have two sons and I don't want them to turn out the same way.

- A Minnesota farm woman.