AMY KIRK: Ranch life puts calluses on a marriageWhen my husband and I got married it was a given that we’d be a dynamic duo.
When my husband and I got married it was a given that we’d be a dynamic duo.
A marriage comprised of a woman with a stubborn German streak and a man with a Scottish temper promises a life-long adventure. Include a herd of cows and the livestock will make sure of it.
The matrimonial union between my husband and me is proof that couples who work together on a ranch never have dull marriages. The key to an exciting marriage is managing livestock together. Working as a team with animals makes for a lively marriage and at times, an entertaining one for bystanders who volunteer to help.
Cows provide all the elements necessary to have a marriage that’s full of spontaneity, variety, and ample opportunities for couples to discover their mate’s hot buttons. Cows just make the conversations between couples more vibrant and colorful and regularly add interest to the relationship.
Ranch life also provides a variety of activities that these couples can do together, typically referred to in the biz as “work.” Spouses who spend time together engaging in such activities on a daily basis quickly become calloused to any difficulties, hardships, and challenges in their marriage. Compared to a couple jointly managing a herd of cows, relationship issues are like a hangnail.
Husbands and wives whose work and leisure life revolve around livestock are among the toughest of couples. When a big problem arises on a ranch, couples are compelled to partner up. Volatile markets, weather, and livestock force spouses to become dependent upon each other unless one or both partners are also volatile.
One key difference between couples who manage a livestock operation together and spouses who work at different jobs is that ranching couples witness what each other does at work. This minimizes gender gap issues common among married couples. At the end of the work day ranch couples can skip the “How was your day, Honey?” question and go right to stewing about something else. Working with the person you live with eliminates assumptions about whether your spouse is mad at you or is upset for some other reason when he or she gets home. If it’s you, you know before you walk in the door.
Ranch couples don’t have a lot of spare time and don’t waste much of it arguing about problems in their relationship. Although I find that bringing up the past is kinda fun when life on our ranch gets mildly boring and as my husband puts it, “we’re in between wrecks.”
By now I’ve covered just about every angle on our recurring arguments that I’m confident I’m getting closer to permanently winning a few of our well-established ones.
Unlike most couples, our biggest fights aren’t about money. Ours usually have nothing to do with our relationship and everything to do with working together messing around with cows or interpreting my husband’s hand signals. I still have yet to correctly interpret them.
Regardless of the gender gap married couples sometimes get lost in, compared to the dilemmas of working with livestock and all the related problems that have to be figured out, dealing with a spouse is easy — you only have one of those to try to understand their behaviors.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.