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Till & Talk: When money is at the center of farm-marriage stress

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My husband says I need to stop spending so much money on things. He spends everything he wants on the farm. Why do I have to stop spending money when he spends thousands of dollars at one time on one thing?

The other night my husband and I were laying in bed and I was online shopping for a dough roll out mat. I found a set of two for $8 or something like that. I mentioned I was going to buy them, but before I could hit checkout, he told me his mom probably had an extra one and I didn’t need to spend that money. It stopped me in my tracks. This was on the same day he had spent thousands of dollars on new tires.

Now I understand, pastry mats are not essential to our income. Tires are. I understand tire prices have absolutely skyrocketed. But with my pink ears I heard, “You aren’t making money making with bread. You can get an extra from my mom or do without. You don’t need to waste money on that.” What his blue brain meant is, “You can have one tomorrow because my mom has an extra one she doesn’t use.”

He was not, in fact, telling me that I couldn’t spend the money or that it wasn’t important.

All of this about $8 to tell you, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. You guys need to figure it out if you want to be happy together. My Forever and I have always agreed and believed that if you are married, your money should be joined. You should both have access to everything. Your money should be combined. Money decisions should be joint decisions. There should be a goal, a plan that you both agree on.

farm-marriage-stress-fizkes
Image by fizkes, Shutterstock

None of us are strangers to how expensive farming is. There’s a lot of money going out the door. It is stressful. It’s a gamble if the corn seeds you plant are going to grow in to anything to harvest. You insure against the risks you can’t afford to take.

What I think your husband is trying to say has more to do with the fact that he’s stressed and hoping the investment you both have put in is going to pay off. You need to have a conversation about money. Again, we’re firm believers that both of us should know everything about the finances. I’m the one who deals with the paperwork, but he knows the numbers. If you don’t know, you need to. You are partners and you need to know the numbers. Life cannot stop because you are in debt. Today could be your last day. Plan for the future while living for today. Be intentional with your spending.

I’ve said this so often I feel like a broken record, if you’ve spent years in bitter resentment toward your spouse, find a professional. Go to a therapist. Go to a professional like you do for your plants and animals. If your marriage means so little to you that you or your spouse won’t fight for it by doing everything possible to save it, you have bigger problems than money. I’m the first to forget in a fight; most of our men (there are bad ones and if you’re with a bad one, get out now!) are good people with good intentions.

Giving grace is one of the biggest gifts we can give each other.


Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer and the author of Till & Talk, a regular AGDAILY column that answers reader-submitted questions about modern agriculture and rural life. Kelsey grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married into another. She and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments. 

To submit a question, email Kelsey at tillandtalk@gmail.com.

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