This weekend, the Dairy Man and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. As old(er) people say, “My, how time flies!”
It’s hard to believe I’ve been living this country life for an entire year. I can’t really consider myself a newbie anymore. Though, honestly, that ship already sailed the day I started explaining the difference between a heifer, cow, steer, and bull to my boss.
The past year feels like a great accomplishment. It was challenging and frustrating, but it was also filled with unspeakable joy and love. I am more in love with the Dairy Man today than I was on our wedding day. Now that we’ve gotten a chance to get our hands dirty in this thing called marriage, we are even more certain in this life we’re building together.
Unlike many newlyweds, I don’t think that the Dairy Man and I entered marriage with our eyes glazed over with love and rainbows. We’ve always been fairly realistic people. We didn’t enter into marriage lightly or with unreasonable expectations. And I think that’s what has sustained us through this crazy year.
Over the past 365 days, we lived in two different houses in two different locations. We went through harvest season, planting season, and a whole lot of hay cutting. We began the (never-ending) process of renovating our farmhouse. We started a new dairy. We completely gutted and renovated our milking parlor. We lost two beloved grandparents. We got a dog. We joined a church and made new friends. We lived through power outages, blizzards, 3 a.m. phone calls, passionate disagreements, runaway cows, and one very expensive trip to IKEA.
I still remember something my mom said to me a few months after my wedding. The Dairy Man was in the midst of starting the new dairy. I barely saw him and felt marginalized, alone, and unimportant. I was sick of coming second to the dairy. While the Dairy Man was working 15 hour days, I was saddled with keeping everything else together. I resented it all. I hadn’t signed up to do everything myself. But when I lamented this to my mom, she said,
“Jess, in a marriage you can’t be so concerned about things being perfectly 50/50. You both have to give 100 percent–all of the time. Things aren’t always going to be equal. You might have to take turns carrying the other. But you should both always try to give 100 percent. That’s what love is.”
My mother is very smart and her advice stuck with me. An egalitarian marriage (as I hoped for) is a great idea, but real life isn’t always that neat and tidy. You can’t just give 50 percent and stop giving. Sometimes we have to pick up each other’s slack. If you go into marriage thinking that things will always be fair and perfectly equal, you’re in for a rude awakening. Especially if you marry a farmer. We will spend our lives trying to find balance.
My happiness required that I accept this. I had to learn flexibility, patience, and grace. I had to be ok with giving more than 50 percent some of the time. On the flip side, the Dairy Man had to shake off years of putting the farm first and learn what it was like to be married. He had to learn how to prioritize, say no, and invest in life outside of the farm. We’re getting there.
To my husband, thank you for the past year. Today, like that day a year ago, you are it. You are everything. You’ve turned my life upside down and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I may live in the boondocks and have a home that smells faintly of cow manure, but I still feel like myself. Stilettos and all.
Bring on the next 80 years.