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Very little co-op in this farmer's attitude
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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) once we learn what we're doing. 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 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 crickets as pets while he's away and 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. At what point do I have to back off because it's also his homestead too? (I swear this is a serious question!!)

Feeling a Little Chicken

Dear Chicken • 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 while he spends three months on the road. Both of you know this, which is one of two red flags unfurling in your letter: 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? Pardon the phrasing, but you sound cowed by him. Red Flag 1. The second one is that your marriage has left the "ours" phase and entered the "mine" vs. "yours." That means a true resolution to the animal-care matter will require attention to the give-and-take balance within your marriage. 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 marriage counseling.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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