Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Farm Wives Talk About Their Marriages

June 16, 2003

Here are some excerpts from three poignant letters I received about marriage and farming.

Dr. Farmer,

I read the article, "A Farm Is Compared to a Mistress," and I felt physically sick. I felt I could have written that letter. We have farmed for over 25 years. We sold our milk cows 18 months ago! That was the best thing that ever happened on the farm.

The cows, field work - anything to do with the farm - came before me. To complain about it was useless. Plans were scrapped at the last minute because a cow was calving. If we went anywhere - weddings, reunions, the kids and I went without him.

I was born and raised on the farm so I was kind of prepared for this. I had my mom as an example. I believe my commitment to God, my husband and my children saw me through it. I guess I didn't realize how much I disliked farming until the cows left and we had some freedom.

After the cows went, my husband, youngest son and I went to our daughter's in Arizona for Christmas. The first vacation ever for us! It was wonderful! I fell in love all over again with my husband. Our time now is super. The stress is gone, I am first in his life again. I think God daily for the strength to withstand the pressures, hurts, rejection of being a farm wife. That is actually the right term - farm wife. - Still married but not to farm.

Dear Dr. Farmer,

I want to thank you so much for your insight into farming marriages. I have been struggling in a difficult farming marriage for some time and your articles have made me realize that it wasn't just me.

Unfortunately, I do see our marriage ending soon. I have been trying to live the life he wants me to live. You hit the nail on the head when you spoke of wives who are alone and depressed due to the farming operation.

My husband, although a very good person, seeks to have the title as "The Nice Guy of the Neighborhood" who will help anyone out, except me. He has wanted me to seek professional counseling, which I did. He said my anger and frustration meant there was something terribly wrong with me and maybe someone could help me "get over it."

Between the heartaches of cash flow problems, sick in-laws next door, raising children, and a truly sad marriage, I am used up. I couldn't be the pretty, smart, nice girl on his arm anymore. I had become angry, depressed and uncaring.

I chose not to go to functions with him anymore. He only wants me to go to weddings and funerals of his circle to make it look like he's got it all together. I cry everyday because I now must choose between going out in the workforce again and leaving and splitting up our family, or sticking it out until my boys are out of high school and college.

Unfortunately, my husband believes I am the problem and having hormonal problems. (I must have been having hormonal problems all of our marriage of 18 years). I ended up in the hospital emergency room twice last summer. I have heart palpitations and high blood pressure due to severe stress and insomnia. I cry with no one to lean on.

I'm used up and I cannot handle this marriage anymore. I can no longer put on the show he wants me to.

Thank you for listening. I wish I had someone here I could talk to. I'm tired but my boys need their mother and father. He will not seek help; I'm in it alone. - A Deeply Depressed Farm Wife

Dear Dr. Farmer,

How true your article was here at our home. Add a full time job besides the farm, the in-laws and 2 boys, ages 16 and 19 and you could have picked our situation. I think my husband also still farms after 21 years of marriage because he feels guilty if he quits. He feels his father will be mad at him.

We farm together with his parents. My husband works a full time job. I have been in therapy and taking medications for about 4 years now trying to get myself straight. I felt it was my problem, Well now my psychiatrist is leaving her practice and I have to look for some one new. I am taking your article with me. How much better it sounds than what I thought was me whining.

I have clinical depression and anxiety which is only intensified by farming. I also work a part time job so I can have my own life away from the farm. When we married I insisted that we did not build a home on the farm. Thank goodness we didn't, we live several miles away, but are at the farm almost everyday. The boys are also tired of the farm, although it was a good life. They participated in 4-H and learned many things. Enough is enough.

Thank you for validating my feelings in this article. I know you do not have time to answer all your mail, but I wanted to say THANKS! - Hanging on in Michigan.