Farming together takes a toll on marriage

I have been married to “Tom,” a successful farmer, for seven years. We both have children from previous marriages, three of whom work here, and my youngest son lives at home.

Dear Annie: I have been married to “Tom,” a successful farmer, for seven years. We both have children from previous marriages, three of whom work here, and my youngest son lives at home.

I quit my job to help on the farm, and now I don’t have a husband anymore, just a boss. Our intimate time and conversation is fairly nonexistent, and there’s no such thing as family time.

Holidays, birthdays and our anniversary are not important to him. Tom tells his sons every personal thing I think should be kept between husband and wife.

The only thing he wants to discuss is farming. Otherwise, he tells me I talk too much. So now I barely speak to him at all.

My mother and grandparents live on the West Coast. My daughter and grandkids live on the East Coast. My youngest son and I visit them without Tom because he says he cannot leave the farm. I’m not sure why we’re still married.

We don’t have children together. If he loves me, he certainly doesn’t show it. If I left him, I’m sure he’d replace me in a heartbeat with a farm worker.

I’m miserable and I’m sure he’s unhappy, too. I’ve suggested we work on our marriage, but he just works more on the farm.

I don’t want to give up, but I also don’t want to feel like this for the rest of my life. Any suggestions, Annie? ­— Midwest Farmer’s Wife

Dear Wife: Sometimes marriage to a farmer means you’re married to the farm. Tom thinks this is what you signed up for, but it is not what you expected.

In order for your relationship to improve, Tom must be willing to devote more time to his family, and we can’t guarantee it. Tell Tom you are terribly unhappy and that counseling is likely the only way to save your marriage.

Even if he won’t go with you, you should still speak to someone who will help you clarify the issues and decide what, if anything, is worth keeping.

Dear Annie: The other day I was in a Pilates class, and the woman sitting next to me passed gas very loudly while completing some of the exercises.

This happened twice and did not go unnoticed by those around her. No one said a peep about it, including the gassy lady. What would have been the proper way for her to handle this embarrassing situation? — Holding My Breath in North Dakota

Dear N.D.: The correct response is, “Excuse me.” This poor woman was obviously so embarrassed that she hoped others would think the sound emanated from someone else.

There is no way to address this without embarrassing her further, so please try to find a way to ignore it as best you can.

Dear Annie: “Montreal, Canada” criticized you for advising psychological, rather than legal, counseling when she suspected her husband of cheating. You are right on the mark!

Years ago, I had been reduced from a self-confident college grad with a career to a timid dependent by the mental abuse and bullying of my husband. A visit to a lawyer did nothing for my self-esteem. Fortunately, I also visited a counselor who had a women’s support group. I rediscovered myself and had the courage to walk out of my nightmare and start over. Please don’t ever stop telling people to get counseling. It saved me, and I bet I have plenty of company. — Got it Right in Hawaii

Dear Hawaii: We promise to keep doing it. In so many cases, it’s the best recourse.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.