She didn’t understand. And I didn’t get that she didn’t understand.
When I came back to the farm, I was just continuing on what had been done for six generations in my family. I didn’t know we were so different - the hours, the seasons, the lifestyle.
Farming was completely normal to me. For a long time, I missed just how not normal it was for her. I missed how hard it was.
I’m not saying I’m perfect now, but going into our eleventh planting season, I can guarantee I’m better today than I was before.
I’ve figured out a few things about balancing a love affair between my wife and farming - and because my wife runs a somewhat successful blog, I’m being forced to talk about them.
We discussed this for a few hours, but here’s my top advice for being married to a woman when you’re also married to the farm.
1. Give her a time.
She’s going to call - each night - she’s going to call. And she will say something like, “Will you be home tonight?”
She will probably tip toe around the question because she’s used to getting a jerk response from you. If you’ve given her one too many this week, she might not even call tonight (call her if she doesn’t.)
I used to get irritated with the call because first, of course I was coming home. I always come home. Where else would I go?
But second, I don’t know when I’ll be there. I never know and just when I think I do know something breaks down or breaks out.
At some point, maybe after reading one of her blog posts, I started to realize how strange my hours were for her. I knew she grew up in a house where her Dad came home the same time most nights, I just didn’t respect how challenging that made this new life for her.
At some point, I realized she wasn’t asking for an exact time when she called. And by then, she knew well enough that things happen. She was only asking for a rough idea. Most nights, the question was really more about if they should eat without me or wait, if she should wait up, or go to bed.
I finally figured out it’s a simple thing - stop the tractor man, and tell her when you’re coming home. And when something breaks - cause it will - send her a text and tell her you’ll be late.
2. Respect her time.
I spent a few years thinking I needed to leave as early as I wanted and come home as late as I needed. Before kids, this wasn’t a huge thing. But after kids, it was. A major shift for us was when I started to respect her time. Five to 6:00 a.m. is reserved for her running. And if I can respect that most mornings, she’s much more understanding the mornings I do have to take off before she can get her run in.
I do what I can to give her time for her friends and family and her career. Usually I can’t go along, and I know that was weird for her, but I do what I can so she can be where she needs, or wants, to be. Family and friends are important - she needs those people when I’m stuck in the tractor and combine for weeks on end.
3. Give her time.
This farming thing isn’t normal for most people - it took me a while to realize that. Even once she’s living it, most of her friends still won’t be. Give her time to get used to it, listen to her when she’s upset, and finally, most importantly, give her your time.
Invite her into your buddy seat - don’t wait for her to ask. Take her along to check cows. You can’t always leave your world, but you can invite her into yours and when she’s with you, she’ll understand a whole lot more about what you’re doing.
And if she spends enough time in your world, she’s likely to fall in love with it too.
Finally - take your boots off. She just cleaned the floor and she has no idea how it’s possible for all this dirt to come into one house. (I’m still working on that one.)