I don’t work hard enough in their opinion

Posted on: February 1st, 2012 by Richard Cressman

My question for Richard

My husband and I have been married for two years. He farms with his father and his brother who got married a year after we did. My sister-in-law comes from a farm background and loves farming. She could be in the barn or in the tractors all day long if given the opportunity. She has taken a job off the farm on a part-time basis. I had worked off the farm prior to getting married but have decided to stay at home and help as much as possible around the farm.

The problem is that both my mother-in-law and father-in-law do not seem to think I do enough. It does not seem to matter how many hours I put in or how hard my husband works, we always seem to feel that they are looking down on us compared to the other son and his wife. It’s particularly starting to cause friction between me and my father-in-law.


Richard’s Reply

You are experiencing what can commonly be called the “daughter-in-law syndrome” you are moving into a family environment where no doubt the culture of the family is somewhat different than yours.

You are being compared to your sister-in-law even though your mother and father-in-law would probably not admit that they are doing that. You are also probably competing with a mother-in-law who was very active in doing farm work and possibly still is.

Some families can be very critical of the newcomers and how hard they perceive them to be as far as workers go. It’s unfortunate, but in many cases respect is proportioned out to newcomers in relationship to how hard they can work.

Coming from a non-farm background and putting in a 10 hour day may seem like a full day’s work, but on a farm a 10 hour day may seem quite short. Your mother-in-law probably cooks and keeps the house tidy and still works probably five or six hours in the barn six days a week. This is a pretty hard act to follow and if you try to win their respect strictly on hard work it may take a long time. If you start to work on trying to understand where they are coming from with their expectations rather than feel critized you may get some inkling about how to deal with the situation.

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