ADVERTISEMENT

Carolyn Hax: Red flags raised over plans for farm life

  • Article by: CAROLYN HAX
  • December 4, 2012 - 3:18 PM

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are looking to move out to the country and grow our food, have chickens and a few other livestock (goats, ducks). He's incredibly excited and has started planning things like how he'll raise crickets to feed to the fish and then the fish will fertilize the garden and we can feed garden scraps to the crickets (and worms, which we already raise) -- and while I don't begrudge him his planning and excitement, he also has a job where he is away for three or more months at a time.

That would leave me to take care of anything he brings into this equation. I feel like I have some veto rights since I don't want to have to take care of everything myself. He got upset and said I can't tell him what he can and can't do.

I agree with that to a point, but at the same time I feel like marriage is a compromise. I'm already willing to take care of goats and maybe fish -- and that's pushing it for me, since I'm not exactly a farm girl. At what point do I have to back off because it's also his homestead, too?

Carolyn says: At what point does he have to back off because it's also your homestead, too?

Actually, I'm turning around the wrong one of your sentences. This is the nut: He can't tell you what you can and can't do -- including weed the crickets or fish for goats (third-generation suburban homesteader here) while he spends three months on the road.

When he pulled his petulant you-can't-make-me!!! stuff, why didn't your mind go straight to calling him, in the warmest of ways, on the fertilizer in his logic? Why did it go instead to wondering whether you're wrong and he's right?

Pardon the phrasing, but you sound cowed by him. Red Flag 1.

Red Flag 2 is that your marriage has left the "ours" phase and entered the "mine" vs. "yours." Yes, a strong marriage must be flexible enough to accommodate the evolving interests of its members -- but that's not the same as saying the marriage needs to serve up compulsory, uncompensated farm labor to the member who decides to become a farmer.

If you and he can achieve a sufficient level of calm, then please discuss this crucial distinction; if not, then suggest taking it to counseling.

In the meantime, I hope you both are spending a great deal of time talking to people who have experience wrangling more than worms. You will have lives in your hands, and you have a moral obligation to take responsibility for no more lives than you're capable of and committed to sustaining. Please don't let his excitement motivate either of you to introduce into your portfolio more than one life form at a time.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

© 2014 Star Tribune