Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Eight Ways A Woman Can Make A Farmer Miserable

February 21, 2005

Women aren’t always saints when it comes to destructive actions that can ruin a perfectly good marriage. The actions some women take can be destructive to any marriage, but in a farm marriage they reek additional havoc - to the farmstead, to the in-laws, and to the community.

In my counseling office, I have seen these actions described in excruciating detail. Very few people will recognize these characteristics in themselves, but they are easily discerned in a sister-in-law or a daughter-in-law - and especially in an ex-daughter-in-law.

If a woman chose to be intentional, here are eight ways she could ruin a perfectly good marriage and maybe even take down a farm in the process.

1. Daddy’s Little Princess is NOT happy. Be willful, rigid and demanding. Try to get your way by being obstinate, difficult, whiney or controlling. Be moody. Throw your temper. Intimidate others into giving in. It is your way or the highway.

Don’t learn about family culture, farming or the ways things are done. Place demands during peak busy times and accuse your spouse of disloyalty if those demands aren’t met. Use your family background as evidence of the way things ought to go.

2. It is you against them. Pick fights with the in-laws. Hold a grudge. Make your complaints known in the community. Either let them have a piece of your mind or be cool or indifferent to them at family functions.

Boycott family gatherings. Hold the grandchildren hostage if the in-laws don’t play ball. Don’t pitch in at family gatherings. Better yet, find reasons not to go. Holidays are a wonderful time to help the in-laws know that you are not a happy camper. Hospitality is not your long suit.

Fight your husband’s fights. Speak up for him. Put pressure on for immediate changes. Straighten out your father-in-law for any perceived problems you or your husband are having. Face the SOB down. Someone needs to.

Turn your husband against his family. Demand his loyalty or else you will split the sheets and the family.

3. Spend it like you’ve got it. Don’t pay any attention to the check register. Buy what you want to buy. Buy the best. Use credit cards or secret spending if you have to. Run to town every chance you can get.

Complain about farm expenses without trying to understand how they generate income or why they are necessary. Be clueless when it comes to farming or the family living budget.

4. Homemaking made easy. No sweat. Keep a cluttered home. Don’t pick up. Watch soaps, laze around and do your hobbies. Let your husband come home and have to take care of things - cooking, cleaning up, laundry and helping the kids with their needs.

Don’t nurture him. Withhold sex. Argue, criticize and let him know how unhappy you are. Don’t give him any peace. Home is a battleground, not a haven.

5. Kill the golden goose. Be dishonest. Cheat the system. Take advantage of loopholes. Fudge and cheat. It doesn’t matter if it hurts your husband’s family. Make it OK because somehow in your mind, you figured out how you deserve it.

Obsess about unfairness and watch others like a bird dog. Harangue your husband about inequities and don’t believe things you don’t understand - like his trust in family members. There is no give and take, only take.

6. Open your big mouth. Speak your mind. Be loud and openly critical of the people you meet. Point out their shortcomings.

Be a devil’s advocate. Fight for the right, no matter who you hurt. Complain about rural life every chance you get. Say no to people who want your help.

Get back at people who wronged you by vicious gossip. Get people to take your side in any disputes you have. If they don’t join you or agree with you, be mad at them.

7. This is all about me. Don’t be a partner. Live separate lives. Invest yourself in your work. Turn the farm into the enemy. Discuss only the negative. Be an obstacle to your husband’s ideas. Don’t be there for him. It is his problem.

Minimize his work and accomplishments. Don’t show interest. Don’t cooperate with farm work or pitch in during planting or harvest. Pooh-pooh his dreams and be quick to point out mistakes. Blame will knock his ego down a notch of two.

Turn the kids against farming. Shield them from farm responsibilities. Cultivate them as allies in your war against the farm.

8. Act single with a two car garage. Hey, you only live once. Run with your single and divorced friends. Go to the bar. Come home late. Real late. Flirt, drink and be unreliable. For a topper, have an affair, leave your marriage and take the kids and half the farm with you.

Two or three of these problems in combination are generally enough to frustrate the most stoic, passive and easy-going farmers who marry stubborn and aggressive women. If the farmers happen to be "Mamma’s boys" who are used to being catered to, who believe that the farm is number one and on the feisty side themselves, the fight is on.