Dear Miriam,

I would appreciate your advice on a matter. I have a niece getting married in Spain next year. All of my siblings will be going and there is a full week of activities planned. I have not been on a foreign holiday for years and am really looking forward to it. The problem is that my husband will not commit to going with me.

We have a dairy farm and it’s hard to get him away for a day at the best of times. There is always some job that just can’t wait. When the kids were young, this meant that I often ended up taking them away myself, or else we’d end up going nowhere. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was away for a night with my husband, to be quite honest.

I want to book the flights and the accommodation early before it fills up. My husband, however, is dragging his heels about it all. He says he will know closer to the time if he can come but how can that be the case? If he’s going to go, he’s going to have to put a plan in place for the farm. It’s not something he will be able to decide last minute.

He has a brother who would be happy to step in for him I’m sure, but it’s like he just can’t let go. Of course, I would be able to go with my children – now in their teens – but that’s not really the point. We both work very hard and I think we both deserve a break. I would like to spend some time with my husband and not stick out like a sore thumb at the wedding.

He just doesn’t seem to “get it” though? What can I do?

Frustrated farmer’s wife

Miriam responds

Dear Frustrated farmer’s wife,

I suspect many of our readers will feel your pain. We all know that farming can be all consuming, but I personally don’t believe that it is sustainable or healthy to work without ever taking a break. This is of course assuming that we are not talking about the calving/breeding period, which is the busiest time of the year and very difficult to take a break.

It seems like your husband believes that the farm won’t function without him there. Many people make martyrs of themselves in this regard. Personally, I don’t think there is much point in working very hard unless you can occasionally enjoy the fruits of your labour. It should be seen as a sign of success that you are confident enough in your operation to step away from it every now and again. Unfortunately, many people believe that the opposite is true.

This is no ordinary sun holiday. It’s a special family occasion and it’s completely understandable that you want your husband by your side. He seems to be putting his response on the long finger, so I think that you need to sit down and try to sort this out sooner rather than later. Explain honestly how you feel and why you think it’s important that you both attend the event together. But also let him know that you will support him in finding a solution to the farm situation and help make a plan for when you would be away.

You mention that your brother-in-law would be happy to step in, or alternatively, if there is money available, perhaps you might consider availing of the farm relief service, which offers skilled, trained and fully-insured support. If your husband was nervous about this, you could trial it by going away for a night or two even in Ireland at a quieter time on the farm to see how this works. Hopefully that might give him a bit of confidence to step away.

If a week’s holiday is a step too far for him at this point, perhaps he can meet you halfway and come for two or three days at least for the wedding itself, while you stay the rest of the time. I know it’s not what you would ideally want, but it would be a start.

I hope this is helpful and wish you the best of luck. CL