Bearing a Cross, or being taken advantage of


I have been married for 9 years and have 2 children. My husband is a dairy farmer & works on average 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. He has very little time to spend with the family as he is always working. His single brother & his mother live at the house on the “main” farm (where the cows get milked), and we live down the road where all the young stock are kept. The farm income has to support both families, and dollars are stretched very very thin. I work full time outside the home to keep us fed & clothed.

The kids take the bus to my Mother-in-Law’s house after school so they get to spend time with their Dad when they are there. My son sees him more becasue he’s done with school at 11:00am, & has no school on Wednesday’s. I of course care for them the rest of the time. Family time runs from 7:30to about 8:30pm, which includes storytime, bedtime routine & about 1/2 hour TV (which my is quality time in my husband’s eyes).

I am starting to feel very lonly and long for time together as a family. When I’ve brought up to my husband how long he wants to work this hard when he is only falling farther behind or getting nowhere financially he changes the subject. If I keep going back to it he will admit that he loves farming and doesn’t want to give it up.

As I try to discern what to do I feel like that maybe this is the Cross that I have been given to bear, but at the same time I feel taken advantage of. I have totally supported him in his decission to keep farming in the past, but at what point am I bearing a Cross, and at what point am I being taken advantage of? I do feel like I am losing my love for him. You just can’t ignore a relationship & expect it to flourish! I do still love him, but it’s falling away from the love of a husband & moving toward the love of a very close friend. Any advice would be welcome.

By the way he is lutheran & does not go to Church with the kids and I (he doesn’t go to his church either). He does however totally support me in my faith, and all the teachings of the Church. He is a loving and kind person, and is helpful, but only to the extent that it doesn’t infringe on farming.

We tried couceling once, and maybe we need to go back, but that means giving up family time so I’m torn.


Please understand my question - I am not attacking you nor am I assuming that you are wrong. I am only confused and need some clarification:
How exactly are you being taken advantage of in this situation? Is it because your life is hard, your are not getting the time with your husband that you want or because there is very little money?

My family is in farming. It has been my experience that very few people are cut out for this life because it is not all John Mellencamp songs, County Fairs, bucolic sunsets and happy times around the fire. It is back-breaking work, 24/7, and requires a lot of the entire family. However, it is also my experience that those who love working the land or tending the animals (i.e. dairymen, cattlemen, etc) are never going to be happy doing anything else.

So, again…please do not misunderstand me…but where are YOU being taken advantage of and is it possible that you are simply tired from the hard work required of a farming family? If that is the case then you are bearing a cross…and only Jesus can help you with the load.

Hang in there, my sister…you are in my prayers.


I grew up in the same kind of situation, but our “family time” was always, well, farming. Loading wood, or cleaning out the barn, or moving hay, and milking were all things that we all did together. There were a LOT of hard times, and financially we just about didn’t make it, but nothing was harder than losing our entire herd to IBR–we had to move to tobacco and harvest-farming. THAT–losing the dairy and the cows-- was harder than barely making ends meet. I agree with the PP who said that for the few of us who are cut out to farm, doing something else is nigh to impossible.

I married a farmer and we’ve worked very hard just so my husband would be able to farm full time. I teach full-time and we both put in long hours at the barn, milking, feeding, and, now, lambing (a brutal season for any shepherd). I wouldn’t trade our “farming time” for anything. We–my husband, family, and I–have spent our happiest times together while working together. This doesn’t leave much time sometimes for supper together, sitting around and just talking, or what most would call “family time” but we find ways to spend time together, even if it’s shoveling out the barn.

My question to you is, what do you consider family time? Does it have to mean everyone sitting around the living room talking? Also, I think this might be your cross to bear. Marrying a farmer or being one can be a real struggle, but giving up that life is often the bigger cross to bear for most who truly love it. Often, “being taken advantage of” is a condition we choose to accept. Most of us are about as happy as we want to be.

You and your husband in my prayers.


I totally understand your question, and do not take it at all negatively.

Maybe taken advantage of isn’t the best way of putting it. But I feel like I spend my time supporting his goals & dreams but I’m not getting the same back. For example, our house: It has always been my dream to have a nice house, not large, not extragegant, but someplace nice where people feel comfortable just hanging out and having family gatherings. The house we live in now is not even listed as a house on our insurance (the foundation would never pass inspection) it is an outbuilding. The living room is still unfinshed sheet rock and has been for 13 years. Many things are unfinished and when I ask him about fixing the house, he never has time to do it or money to hire someone. We talked about this before marriage, and he very much wanted to get the house done. It was just not understood by me that it would take second place to keeping the farm going for what feels like forever.

Also part of the problem is that his mother is still very involved in the farm. Her job in the 3 way partnership is doing the books, and she often doesn’t have the patience for even that, yet she controlls the check book and decides who gets how much money. There a lot of other details that would be too much to get into. But where is the line between being charitible and Christian and being…well… taken advantage of?

Maybe part of the problem is that I am a city girl, and I see the farm as a job & a choice. In my world the priorities are God, Family, Work and I feel like his are Work, Family, God. Maybe not having been raised on the farm I just can’t “get it”…

I REALLY love living in the town we are in, and am very glad I moved out of the city, but I can’t honestly say that if I had to do it again I would marry him… maybe, but I’m just not sure anymore…


rachelleah - I was writing when you posted so didn’t get to read it until after I had hit “post reply”…

Thank you for your words. They were very helpful.

A lot of the time I am a happy person who is really okay with our life even if it’s not “perfect”. Sometimes when I start to feel unhappy, I also think that I am be assailed but evil. But then I start to think, but am I? I may not be expressing it right, I do find that prayer helps a lot. It helps me feel that I am where God wants me to be.

Sometimes it is just hard…


I think both Rachelleah and I are telling you that when you married a farmer/dairyman, you married the farm/dairy.

The thing is, while there are a myriad of JOBS to do on a farm there is never really an end to the work.

My Uncle, the last of the Croccos, died last November on the family ranch. He died in the home in which he was born. My mother and I took care of him the last month of his life. The house is over 100 years old, has no foundation, tilts to one side, is dark, etc etc etc…and it has been that way since my MOTHER was born in it 0ver 85 years ago…

I do not want to sound like I am simply saying “Get over it” but you may have to look very carefully at what you chose to marry into 9 years ago and what YOU can do to make your home more to your liking…and I really don’t want you to think I am just dumping all this on you. I’m not. I guess what I am saying is you may have to accept your husband for who and what he is and then see what you can change, and change it, and what you cannot change and accept it.

omigawd…it’s like the Serenity Prayer!:slight_smile:


For years in my marriage - I and our son went to Mass alone. Every week and Holy Day, sitting there just me and my sweet boy. It made me feel soooo alone and isolated. DH and I spent lots of time together, but, I felt alone.

DH came into the Church 2 years ago. Let me tell you, it changed our marriage! There is no feeling like going to Mass together. Most Sundays the church is so croweded that we cannot sit together, or even SEE each other, that does not matter - sharing our Faith is the most unifying act of our marriage. We in no way have a perfect marriage, and there are rough times, but that isolated and alone feeling is just not there.

So, my advice to you - begin to pray in earnest for your husband’s conversion. When the spiritual side of your family is in order, well, it makes the other struggles worthwhile.

Praying for you!


Surely there are folks here who can help you find a Parish?


Leslie - I actually laughed when I read your message - sounded like the Serenity Prayer and my Mom! “You got yourself into this situation now it’s up to you to find a way to deal with it”, and it is meant and taken with a light heart.

I guess when we got married I didn’t really understand (but do now) the mentallity of the average farmer as you described. I know that my husband enjoys farming, but at the same time I feel like there has to be balance in everyone’s life. If you look at many farmers they still take time out to go to Church or maybe take an hour on Sunday afternoon to play a game with their family. And I understand that sometimes that isn’t possible (such as during hay season - gotta hay when the sun shines!!).

Maybe it is the case that this is just my cross to bear. If I truly feel that this is where God wants me (and I do unless I’m be assulted with doubt), then dealing with my husbands vocation in life comes with the package.

However I am going to pray for his conversion as kage ar suggested. When we switched to NFP it helped our relationship tremendously! I think that his regular participation in Mass would also help. However, getting him to RCIA… now that’s a WHOLE different mountain to climb!!

I just have to remember “With God all things are possible”



I think he is blessed to have you as his wife…


I don’t think it’s much to ask for your house to be walled and not live in a sheetrock-exposed mess for 13 years. Nor do I think it’s much to ask for you to have a relationship with your husband which has more depth then watching tv for a half hour each night. Personally I think you’re being rather saintly with even the manner you’re describing all of this.

His mother controls who gets how much money? So it’s up to her whim and not how hard he works. Wow. Have you ever discussed him going to his mother and voicing a need for more income, and permanently at that? What if you didn’t work full-time, or were unable to do so? Then what? Have you ever pointed out to him that it seems you’re working essentially to keep him farming and meanwhile he is not meeting any of your emotional needs, not to mention the need of a safe shelter?

Can the two of you set aside money each month for the living room project? Whether it’s 10/mo or 100/mo or 1000/mo, this should be terms your husband can understand. Make it clear to him that you’ve waited 13 long years and it’s time to compromise. Is it difficult for you to assert your needs? Then maybe it’s time to set aside some money first and foremost for counseling.

I don’t really buy in to the whole “my entire life from here until I die is meant to be a cross to bear.” I do think it can SEEM that way, however. Sometimes it’s tempting to draw that conclusion when we don’t know how to help ourselves out of a tough situation. We end up saying, “I must resign myself to this suffering.”

Sure, we are presented with challenges but the struggle to get through them is the real cross to bear. I don’t think we are meant to be doormats and simply accept life as it happens and make no effort to change what we find disappointing. Don’t let your life go by and pass up the chance to have a satisfying marital relationship and happy homelife with the man you loved enough to marry. Commit yourself to change and if you are unsure how to go about doing it, please seek help from a therapist who can be a sounding board and source of guidance.

You will be in my prayers!


there is an organization for Catholic farm families, it is more than a “support group” for those with the kind of problems you describe, it also works to protect the ideal of the family farm, I saw an article about it in one of the big Catholic magazines about a year ago, and I am thinking Catholic Extension may be a sponsor of the group, because they have a commitment to rural families and communities. If you are in a big farming area it might be an idea to call the diocese, perhaps family life office, and see if they sponsor this or a similar organization. Perhaps working with others in a similar circumstance may help shed light on your family’s difficulties and how to handle them.


There is an ministry, I know it’s represented by a green ribbon, but I don’t know exactly what they do. There are also some Catholic based family councelors in the town about 20 min from here that work on a sliding scale; and if I can convince him to make the time I think that might be our best route.

I guess that when we married I knew it wouldn’t be all rosey, and that it might take some time to get the house done but it’s gotten excessive. I feel like the marriage needs to be a give and take on both sides and for the past 9 years it’s been me giving. I’m not even asking him to just throw in the towel and walk away, but I’m asking for a game plan. At what point are we going to move on? At what point is it no longer worth the work? The past two years the farm has gone farther into debt, just to pay operating expenses.

For a while we had a regular income of $250.00 per month, and the farm paid for heat, electricty, insurance and gas (for our van). When the kids left daycare and started going to his Mom’s after school that was cut out because she was watching the kids.

Princess - I would never go my whole life living like this, I can really relate to what your saying. I can honestly say that when the kids graduate from HS if we are still living like this I will move with or without him. At the same time I hate that I already feel like that.:frowning:

Thank you for all your prayers. I remember the days when life was easy and you just did what your Mom and Dad told you!!

God Bless you all… You have been very helpfull!



After reading your description of how the finances work (i.e. your MIL controls everything) and the shape your house is in, I understand more where you’re coming from. It also must be hard being a “city girl” as you put it, because from that point of view (one I’ve had often) farming does look like a choice to work oneself into the ground for what seems like such a small reward. It’s almost like being a starving artist, but not nearly as romantic (or should I say romanticized?).

I would never say flat out, ‘you made your bed…’ but sometimes taking stock means realizing that and making the best of a not-so-great situation. As one PP said, no, it isn’t too much to ask that your house have a foundation, that is, that it actually be defined as a house on insurance. It may be time for a REAL (hard) heart-to-heart with your husband, and it may take him realizing just how serious you are (about leaving) before he’ll wake up and pay attention.

I also agree, and forgot to mention, the main thing that makes my catholic farm marriage work is the fact that we are both devout, observant Catholics who love our faith more than the farm. I think it would help things tremendously if you were both on the same page there.



" I do not want to sound like I am simply saying “Get over it” but you may have to look very carefully at what you chose to marry into 9 years ago and what YOU can do to make your home more to your liking…and I really don’t want you to think I am just dumping all this on you. I’m not. I guess what I am saying is you may have to accept your husband for who and what he is and then see what you can change, and change it, and what you cannot change and accept it."

I agree in a lot of ways with this post, and the reason is, an individual is the only person who can ensure their own happiness or, at least, contentedness. I learned the hard way before I got married that depending on my husband (then fiance) to make me happy was making us both miserable. And, honestly, it is quite a lot to ask of someone to be solely responsible for making one happy. That’s a big job. I think instead of “dumping all this on you” that what is meant is if you take responsibility for your own happiness, it is much easier to find contentment. I’m not saying ignore your husband and children and surroundings and pretend things are peachy keen, but do see the bright side (it sounds like you already are trying hard). Deciding to be happy despite very imperfect circumstances is what has made the difference for us.




I would say that it is the able-bodied man’s duty to provide for his family to the best of his ability. And it is the able-bodied wife’s duty to live within those means.

What would happen if you quit your job? Maybe if you focused on your work as a wife, you husband would focus on his duties as a husband and come to his own realization that he needs to make adjustments.

There’s a gray area between helping your spouse because he’s doing the best he can; and enabling your spouse to continue in an insufficient means of supporting the family.

There is a job that I would much rather be doing than the one I’m currently doing - but it won’t support a family. So as the husband, I guess I see it as my duty to secure a job that will provide for the family.


If I quit my job we would fall way below poverty level. I would actually LOVE to quit my job and stay home! I love what I do (at work), but would rather be at home. I don’t think it would be prudent to quit and force my husband to find different work. I see where you are coming from, but that would only put a bigger strain on the relationship. I think we need to be on the same page to start out with. I think getting to that point will start with more communication.

It’s so easy when you always have the same arguement/discussion to just not what to talk about it anymore, but that also give the impression that you are okay with the current situation.

Bottom line, we need to continue to talk about it. I’ve been very bad about that lately. Thank you all for your insight!


Have you checked into Retrouvaille? It is a program for troubled marriages. Not just those on the brink of divorce, but any marriage where lack of communication is causing problems–which it sounds like is the major problem with you two. It starts with a one weekend class, then there are some follow-ups. It works wonders for many many couples, and it literally saved our marriage. I highly recommend it to anyone who is having trouble really communicating with their spouse. for a local chapter. It is Catholic based, but open to anyone. No professional counselors, only couples who have been through the worst situations and come out of it stronger. Please check into it. (It’s also cheaper than on going private marriage counseling, and has a higher success rate).



I too am the wife of a dairy farmer in WI (PM me if you want). I am new to it, less than 2 years, and I did not grow up farming. And, we have no children so it’s a little different.

BUT, I can see your situation perhaps more clearly than those who are not farm wives can. It’s a different world and it’s hard to understand all the dynamics and issues if you aren’t living i.

One thing that makes a huge difference in our situation is DH does not work on Sundays, except to feed/milk which he has to do. So, we spend every Sunday as a family-- we watch tv, go out to eat, take a drive… whatever.

DH takes the command to rest on Sunday very seriously. Do you think you could get DH to try it? I honestly think just that would make a huge difference.

The main problem I see is that it’s a family operation and he may be pressured by the rest to work that 7th day. Many of the farmers around here work 7 days-- but DH refuses.

I don’t see where he’s any worse off for it, and probably better off with one day to relax.

It could make a big difference in your marriage.

Also, as for the business side of farming, yes he is dodging a very serious issue and I do recommend you sit down with a financial counselor, not a marriage counselor. Sometimes that third party can be enough to make someone see reason. If it’s just not working financially, he has to make some decisions WITH you. But, I know it will be hard considering the family entanglement.

Who owns what in this situation? Do you own the home and property where the young stock are being raised? Do you own a share in the milking operation?

I do know where you are coming from, so feel free to contact me any time.


This thread has convinced me to chase away any farmers who try to court my daughters.

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