How have our partners fared in this pursuit for the rural life? It's not easy for two people to share the same dream exactly, so what experiences have you all had in making it work? How did the transition happen, or not? How did the rural life change or strengthen your relationship? What kind of compromises were there, and were they worth it?
Mine came into it kicking and screaming, saying, "You can't do that! Nobody does that!" But the older I got, the more I needed to get more and more rural, plant an orchard instead of a couple of fruittrees, plant food instead of just a garden, build projects, design a water system, make a driveway on a hill work, live with the insects, rodents and animals chewing on and ruining a lot of things, and make all the systems work for being able to live comfortably while being remote. There were endless $1500 expenses. It caused a lot of resentment, and so I took on more and more by myself, which apparently also caused resentment, that double-edged sword of, "Don't force me to spend my spare time doing your projects, but don't exclude me, either." That one is still tricky. On good days there was admiration. On bad days there were arguments, but that's where the real information was coming out, a lot of it I did not expect.
I thought once someone accomplished a project, stood back and admired what they did, it would be a no-brainer that that kind of satisfaction is one of the best, but I've learned the hard way, that's just me. I've also learned that I don't need a lot of praise for what I do, I just need the freedom to do it and make it work to my satisfaction without a lot of doubt and scorn sent my way. Sometimes a couple years down the road suddenly it gets noticed, which is frosting on the cake. Seeing the light bulb come on on someone's face can't be forced or explained into agreement. Stepping back and letting it happen works a lot better. Not waiting for it to happen, because sometimes it never does. But if 50% of the things get an Ah-ha moment, I'm good with that.
So now that the major things are done and working pretty well, and I've learned that expansion just means more maintenance that I don't really need, expenses have calmed down, we are at about a 50/50 participation level. I know which projects cause bad moods, and which chores are dreaded, so those can be avoided. We've made more time for just sitting back and enjoying, picnicking, hanging out. It shouldn't be work all the time, especially not working until exhausted, (that goes for me, too) even if what gets done is something good. I guess that's the Stop And Smell The Roses approach, and it's made things a lot better.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.
Wow, you speak for a lot of us, I'm certain! I suppose some of us mismatched couples work it out, some don't. In my own case. Hubby and I both enjoyed the outdoors when we paired up, but in a civilized fashion.....canoeing, day walks in the woods, driving down country roads, camping for a week, living on a few wooded acres, visiting wildlife preserves. But all my life I wanted to be a farmer, but suppressed the desire due to family and peer pressure. Once I retired, the old flame rekindled, whereupon I discovered that I was married to a city boy. Lucky for us, we've worked it out (actually still working at it). I'm exploring being a homestead farmer, he still works and provides the support. I agree to not ask him to participate unless it is something that I really, really need his help. Oh, we've got our rough spots to smooth out. A country gal married to a city boy isn't smooth sailing, as you've discovered.
I'm with you 100% on not needing his praise in order to feel satisfied with my farming accomplishments. This homestead project wouldn't be working if I needed hubby's input. But as you noticed with your partner, he doesn't want to be ignored either. Yes....a tricky dance. We sometimes step in each other's toes. Luckily we are independent and forgiving enough to get over it and move on.
I've been at this homestead project for 15 years. Hubby still works, but has taken a tad of interest in the farm. Not much, but a spark that sits there and glows. He is planning on retiring from his job soon, so we shall see if his spark of interest grows into a flame. If not, then I hope he finds a hobby to occupy his time because I'm not ready to give up the homestead farming yet.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Don't get discouraged if the other-half doesn't seem to be on the same page, or even thrilled.
"We" often don't like to admit that what we didn't encourage is prospering without our blessing. Human nature?
Over time, the merits of our efforts will begin sinking in to them, and whether they admit it or not, deep down, they become thrilled with this new found bounty that is putting everything (including us) into a better situation.
The better-than-store-bought-food on the table, the beauty and bounty of the yard, and all of the other benefits are adding up to demonstrate that the end results are greater than the sum of its parts.
Su, I'm guessing that after his retirement, he will begin spending more and more time in the fields. Enthusiasm will grow to the point where he begins asking questions, and making suggestions. Progress will make leaps and bounds once that distraction (employment) fades from memory.
My husband loves nature but isn't even slightly interested in trying to grow plants or animals. He loves to see the garden and eat the produce, but he mostly resents the chickens and sheep - especially the sheep because they have been such a pain (literally a pain - he has a permanent injury from a confrontation with our late ram, Harold). What my husband will do, which is wonderful, is chainsawing. He also takes care of vehicle maintenance and repairs. He helps with lifting and construction tasks that I can't manage on my own, and I usually ask him to do electrical wiring because he's better at twisting wires than I am. But his primary task is to earn money for the household. He's been working on a new home business for the past few years, which is gradually growing large enough to begin to support us in a very modest fashion as our old home business fades away. He's interested in permaculture, especially water management, so I think he will want to do more in the way of brush dams, rock dams, and earthworks, which is exciting. We have tons of that sort of work that we need to do. I don't mind that he isn't interested in gardening or raising livestock.
My husband is also in the same boat of loving nature. In fact, within days of meeting each other, we both discovered that we both wanted to live in a cabin in the woods. But, his ideal of nature is not my own. He likes a much drier--deader, in my mind!--climate. I, on the other hand,love the ferns and moss. He hates the rain, too. If it's raining, he doesn't want to go outside. He also has seasonal allergies, which means that if there's pollen floating around, he doesn't want to be outside. So, for probably 4/5ths of the year, he doesn't want to be outside. This is frustrating for both of us, but we're not moving. We already got our land, most of our family is here, and I think I'd dry up and die in--for example--southern Idaho.
Aside from not wanting to be outside much, he totally supports what I do. He tells me to buy "all the plants and grow all the things," and I have to reign myself in so that we stay within budget. He also helps me haul logs when I ask him and plant trees, and he chops our firewood. He doesn't do it nearly as much as I would like, but he's also the one working all the overtime while I stay home with our toddler and homestead. He loves what food we grow, but doesn't want to harvest it or tend the ducks. So, I do those things, which usually doesn't bother me as long as I have the same amount of down time as he has. There's nothing worse than having one person doing all the work, and the other one just playing video games or checking facebook. That creates a lot of resentment. Thankfully, there aren't many days like that, especially since my husband is usually working hard outside of the home.
As for being rural, he loves it. We both HATED living in the city and love being out away from all the pollution, crime, and crowds. He's introverted like me, though, so that probably helps a lot in enjoying being out here. We're also not that far out here. It's 15 minutes to closest small city/large town, and 30-40 minutes to the bigger cities.
Hmm… So often these things come down to personalities and personal tastes. I've noticed the large majority of successful homesteads and small farms involve a stable couple or family, committed to the lifestyle.
I moved out here with Sylvia (not her real name) after living together for a year and being married for three years. Both of us had grown up on edges of a small city. Her parents each grew up rural and semi-rural; my dad had grown up on a poultry ranch and my mother in a small town in orchard & mixed-farm country. Both Sylvia and I had been visualizing the country life, and we visited the valley together we moved to before taking the plunge and putting money down on a piece of land. I’d done a lot of reading, collecting of essential tools, etc - and she learned to cook using basic foodstuffs instead of frozen or canned or microwave-able meals.
We’d moved out with a three-week-old child, so my wife had to give her a lot of time. But Sylvia also did house work. I did the gardening, building reclamation and repair, firewood cutting, truck mechanics… started to learn woodworking, chainsaw maintenance, and all that. We went hiking, swimming, and played music. We got involved with neighborhood work parties, local socializing and dances, and that sort of thing.
Two years later, Sylvia said she wasn’t happy. She let it be known she’d like to be 17 again She moved out, and into her own rented cottage in a nearby little town. She got involved with a succession of three guys, none of whom was that “involved with the land” (didn’t own his own place). To her credit, she did take good care of out daughter (I “co-parented”, to the extent that I could). And she got a job. I filed for divorce. Sylvia got pregnant again. Blah, blah, blah.
A year and a half after Sylvia decided she was unhappy and started to go her own way, I met another woman and got together with her. Call her Lucie. She likes hiking and the large and small things of nature. She has a good sense of land use. She's acquired lots of hand skills, including the use of non-powered and powered hand tools (she can use a table saw, though not a chainsaw). She loves gardening of both the food-oriented and decorative sorts (shrubs, flowers). She values being responsible, and always puts in a good day’s work. We raise a lot of food and do some trading with neighbours. Both of us feel that the other one carries their weight. Lucie likes neighbours and good friends, and esteems household stability. She - like myself - likes fun, but isn’t escape oriented. I’d have to say she’s seemed more self-possessed than Sylvia, and seems naturally able to “see the bigger picture”.
We help each other with each of our personal projects, when help is needed and to the extent we can.
Sylvia left her second husband and moved to a city of 120,000 population. She likes it there with all the modern conveniences and minimal involvement with soil, etc.
So, maybe this explains why I feel personalities are a very big factor in the probable outcome.
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I'm glad to read the stories. Relationships are complicated enough, and then throw in a rural life, I think maybe it is where the rubber hits the road. It probably brings out the issues much sooner than if everything were happening in a world of convenience. I think people who want to live on the land/with the land have a tough spirit, are willing to try and try to make the life work and the relationship work. Yet it's hard to know until we actually try it, whether it suits or not.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.
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