When I was in the mental ward, it was mostly girls in their teens with messed up track records and eating disorders. But my roommate was from Kellogg, a top-ten business school.

I thought it was insane that she was there. She was so smart. She was going to be great at work. Her only problem was that her fiancé had just broken off their engagement. I thought she would be fine—there are so many other men to be had. But before I could ask her to explain, she tried to electrocute herself in the bathtub, with a blow-drier, and she was moved to the high-security ward.

That has been on my mind as my relationship with the farmer has unraveled.

Which makes me want to sleep.

I kiss my sons good night and then walk through a kitchen full of dirty dishes to my bedroom, thinking going to bed would be a good way to escape. But I can’t sleep. Probably because I used that trick earlier, when I came home from work and slept for a couple of hours before I took my son to cello.

I was not sad while I slept. But I was sad at cello.

Even since our first date, the farmer has said that he does not want to date me, but he does it anyway. Over eighteen months, we pretend things have changed, but really, here’s where we are:

The farmer owns about 100 acres on his own. He farms with his parents by putting his 100 acres with their 500 acres.

His parents have said that he will inherit the whole farm so he can keep farming the way he has, on 600 acres, for the last 20 years.

They do not want to guarantee that the farmer inherits the land. They say maybe they will give the farmer a guaranteed inheritance after they see if they like farming with him when he lives with me. They want to wait to see if I make their life hell.

I finally fall asleep and wake up to my seven-year-old saying, “Can you wake up? Is it morning? Can you ask [the farmer] if we can also have sheep when we move to the farm?”

“It’s not morning yet,” is what I tell him.

“Then can I sleep with you? And where is [the farmer]?”

“He’s not here.”

This is what I say. I’m not sure how long I can say it with any credibility. But luckily it’s the middle of the night, and my son is consumed with the idea of doing animal chores every morning with the farmer. My son has plans.

I lay in bed between my sons who realize something is wrong because ever since the farmer came into our lives, I’ve guarded my bed from them relentlessly, but tonight I let them in.

In bed I think about the farmer’s lawyer, who says depending on farming land that the parents control is a totally insecure way to live. Our days with the lawyer are over, though. It cost the farmer $5000 and he has, literally, nothing to show for it. Only discussions with the lawyer about how the farmer has to leave his farm.

I lay in bed staring at the dark ceiling. The boys breathe heavy and warm in my ears and tears drip down my cheeks and when they pool in my ears they are cold. I tell myself over and over again that the farmer does not want to farm on his own land without farming with his parents. I have to accept this.

He asked me to move to his farm, with my kids, living alongside the risk that his parents will tell him that they hate me so much that he either has to get rid of me or stop farming with them.

So I won’t move there. Because I think that if the parents, down the line, hate me enough to force the farmer to choose me or the farm, he’ll choose the farm. So I figure he should just make that choice now, before I move to Darlington, WI with my kids.

And he’s picking the farm.

Did you see the movie Monsters vs Aliens? The girl who turns into a monster breaks off her engagement because her fiancé is a jerk. I wish I could become a monster. I wish I thought the farmer was a jerk. I wish this were a movie, and my kids scratched the disc, so we’d have to stop watching, because the end of this is too scary.

The next morning, I wake up at 5am because I’ve been waking up on farmer time for so long. I sulk for an hour and then the kids wake up. I make lunches, make breakfast, make beds, make jokes (the knock-knock kind) and the kids are happy, and it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

I went to the book fair at the school the night before. We take out one of our new books and I think maybe the kids are having a charmed life and I am overestimating the impact of farmer abandonment.

Then my four-year-old says, “Mom. Look!” and he shows me an eraser in the shape of an ice cream cone.

“Did you take that from the book fair?”

“Yes. Aren’t I sneaky?”

“No. It’s stealing. I told you we’re only buying books. That means you can’t take anything else.”

We talk about stealing. My seven-year-old asks with eyes full of glee if his brother will be going to jail.

We finish breakfast and I tell myself not to think about the farmer. I tell myself to focus on making the returning of the eraser a good lesson about fairness.

I would like the farmer to sell his 100 acres to his parents, who are willing to pay cash for market price, and then buy a farm somewhere else, so that we start fresh, together. I told him I’d move anywhere in the world that he wants.

He wants to stay right there. With his parents.

In the car, on the way to school, I tell myself it’s hard to be sad over losing someone who is choosing to farm with his parents over starting a life with me. But I’m distraught over telling my kids that the guy they have completely bonded with is going to disappear.

Proving that kids know everything, even stuff they don’t understand, my seven-year-old catches me off guard with his backseat chatter: “Who is coming to your birthday party next week?”

My four-year-old chimes in with a list of his own friends.

I say, “You two are my best friends. So I think it’ll be a party with us.”

The seven-year-old says, “What about [the farmer]? You love him, too, and he loves you.”

I turn the music up too loud.

I need to find some child psychologist to tell me how to tell the kids what happened to the farmer. So when they clamor for the Beatles I put on Ob La Di, Ob La Da, and the kids sing out loud. When I have been pretending that things are fine with the farmer, Ob la di seemed like Paul McCartney’s sunny summary of marriage and kids. Now the song feels like John Lennon’s ironic jab at the morons who think marriage ever works out to be happy.

I drop the kids off. Psychology Today says that depression is contagious and you usually get it from your mom, so I try to be extra chirpy during drop off. Except when we are returning the eraser.

I only go into my office when I have to, and today I have to because we are having an all-day meeting with the CEO who has flown in from DC.

We are talking strategy and he says that startups are always changing. The strategy changes, the tactics change. He says it has happened at every startup he’s ever had.

I console myself that he’s had two, huge exits. I hope that the rule of past performance predicting future performance will skew more toward his former exits than mine.

I try to focus. I wonder if they can tell when I am thinking about the farmer and when I am thinking about the company. Sometimes, when I think I cannot get myself back to thinking about the company, I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I try to say smart things every now and then. I want them to think I’m smart.

I hope I am an exception to the rule. For broken engagements. For single parenting. For startup exits.

But I know that none of us is an exception to a rule. We are just regular. And another rule is that we are all lost sometimes, and being lost is okay. I am lost right now. I don’t know what is happening in my life, and I am scared to think of any of the reasonable outcomes.

But I actually know a bit about being lost. I’ve been through it before. I have been jobless, and I’ve figured out what’s next. I’ve hated my career, and I figured out how to switch. I’ve been dumped many times by many men, and I’ve always thought no one would ever love me, and I always fall in love again.

But there’s no magic solution. Being lost cannot be avoided. The best thing to do is to try to focus on something else. I know from past experience what works: Reading, writing, cuddling with the kids, dating men who write good emails, and cooking recipes that call for lots of sprinkles.

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280 replies
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  1. Anca
    Anca says:

    I’m sorry you won’t get your wish to live on a farm with the farmer you love, but there will be other farms/farmers for you if you want them. In an ideal world, you loving someone and them loving you back would be enough, but sometimes things just don’t work out the way we think they should.

    I think it will make things slightly easier on you if you don’t put off telling your kids. Stop worrying and just tell them.

  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    Maybe everybody knows more about this than I do, but it sounds complicated, we’re talking about the guy’s life and livelihood and family and you haven’t been together THAT long yet. Why not keep going with how it is? Why not allow this to be a learning experience and realize that you really do want to take him up on his offer? Make a romantic reversal? I mean don’t torture yourself, you’ve done something very sensible, so maybe the right thing. Love is always something like this, isn’t it? But if you love each other then go ahead and put up with the risks and the what not? Or at least give yourself more time to let it evolve.

  3. Isao
    Isao says:

    Dear Penelope

    I tried to think of something smart to say and there is nothing. So I write what I felt. I felt physical pain around my heart and a cold sweat around my back when I read you let your kids into your bedroom. I felt my eyes becoming wet when I read you needed to turn the music loud. I felt lightened up with hope when I read your list of stuff to do. And I felt ashamed of childishly asking you to continue writing about the family affair after the Thanksgiving event entry.

    I have always appreciated all of your writings but I never felt them so personal as this time. Thank you, like all of us here, I believe in you and your choice.

  4. MDTaz
    MDTaz says:

    I’m sure it’s not easy for the Farmer’s family to get the Penelope Trunk brand, if you will, and to understand your lifestyle and live with the idea that anything that happens in your life with their son might be public on your blog. I really appreciate the raw honesty with which you write about your life 360-degrees. But then I don’t know if I could be so constantly candid. You do have to take that into consideration, I think. Having said that, the Farmer has known all along who you are. So this all sort of falls in his lap. I wonder what kind of drama he likes to stir up in his own life.

    I think the challenge is being honest with your kids, and giving them enough information to understand and process this but without burdening them with your grief. But in the end, you can’t protect them; you can only model for them how to confront challenges that get thrown at us in life. But you know this already.

  5. Lizzo
    Lizzo says:

    why make him choose you or the farm? i think you are looking at it from a wrong perspective. why don’t you empower yourself by making a statement of choosing him, his parents, and a contentful life on the farm with your kids? you’re an independent, successful entrepreneur who is not dependent upon him financially–so stay out of his business affairs with his parents, no matter how much you want to help. show respect, a cooperative nature, and humility by knowing your place in the family. being with the farmer requires you to think beyond just you and him. just keep in mind that your boys and ex-husband are a package deal that come with you. with him, his parents are part of the package. so address their skepticism by letting it be known that you are choosing him and them, and you will do what it takes to make it work in the long term. you can acknowledge they want assurance from you and the best way to reflect that is through action.

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Penelope, Lizzo’s comment above is certainly worth considering if you love him this much. As much as I think it’s crazy for him to choose the farm & parents over you, I agree its crazy for you to reject the parents over him.

      Either way, you know what’s best. Persevere for yourself and your kids. All the best!

  6. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    Dear Penelope,

    We saw this coming, didn’t we? It doesn’t make the hurting any less penetrating, but there was no other path for either of you, other than jumping off this cliff. The issues weren’t really about the farm, or his parents, or the physical distance between you two, or your religious differences, or any one particular thing. There were just too many subtle differences that didn’t line up. Not all your core values were meshing. But that’s okay, if you love him for who is is. And he loves you for who YOU are. But it’s not okay for a total commitment in marriage. That union would never have satisfied your needs. Or his.

    But as I see it, nobody did anything wrong. There’s no bad guy in this story. And there are no victims either. Because as much as you’re hurting right now, I think when you look back on this shift of direction, I believe you’ll come to the conclusion that the decision to alter the relationship was mutual. I mean, wasn’t there always some doubt in the back of your mind that he was in conflict about you? And weren’t you making serious concessions to make the relationship “work” for yourself? The total trust factor just couldn’t quite congeal.

    And may I also remind you about something else you know in your heart. Your farmer’s a good man. And there is no reason to believe that he’s not hurting just as much as you are at this very moment. It actually took courage to be the one who cut the cord. You think it’s easy to break two hearts? The one you love, AND your own?

    Dear Penelope, if you can endure the pain, and override potential resentment, I think you’ll keep his lifelong friendship. You both deserve that. And your both up to the task.

    With love,

  7. Alison
    Alison says:

    It sounds to me like you made the decision for him, and it seems like you’re making him choose. Wouldn’t he be happy with you and 100 acres? Isn’t it his parents’ decision whether they deed him 500 acres? Basically, it comes down to what makes you happy, and that’s the farmer, no matter how much land he ends up with. His parents sound controlling, and they’re the only ones ending up happy here.

  8. Jacob Revold
    Jacob Revold says:

    Thank you for also sharing this episode of your life with us, your readers and followers. I am sure it was not easy writing it, and I am sure it is not easy coping with it at the moment. I hope you will keep up the good and inspiring work you do (you do make a difference for a lot of people in the world by your choice of words you know….). I also hope you embrace your children in this period. Include them in whats going on and how you feel – to the level you feel comfortable of course. I still have a hope that this might work out for you and that you two together (you and the farmer) will find ways to handle the situation. I wish you all the best and send you a hug.


  9. Nannette
    Nannette says:

    I’m new here. Can’t say enough about your blog. I love it. Absolutely LOVE IT.
    I dated a farmer for seven years. Moved in with him actually. Yep, me & my three kids. They were babies and after seven years they called him “Dad”, even though we were not married. I was not happy with the type of relationship he had with his mother. He felt the need to tend to her land etc… real attached to his land, similar situation. I’m not saying that he should not have been so attached. However, the point is I was not attached to the land I was attached to the farmer and I thought the farmer was attached to me. I ended up buying a house of my own & we dated for a while. Once I told the kids who were 10-12 years old at the time we were breaking up for good they told me they would be okay but just wanted ME to be happy. The point is we were a family before the farmer and we are a family after the farmer. So are you.

  10. Brad
    Brad says:

    So … the sisters who hate you should now WANT you and Farmer to get married, on the (in their minds likely) chance that he gets disinherited. That way the land eventually gets sold and they cash in.

    Unless Mom & Dad are bluffing.

    So much intrigue for rural Wisconsin.

  11. Avil Beckford
    Avil Beckford says:


    You are very courageous! I can’t see myself talking about my relationships that candid with anyone. Because of your honesty and being so candid, others will learn from your experiences. I guess what hurts so much for you is that you put yourself on the line for the farmer.

    Children are very resilient, so they will be just fine. I know you a little bit because of your blog posts, but I do not dare think that I know you very well.

    I do not want to tell you what to do, because I hate it when people tell me what to you. But, shouldn’t you take a time out from relationships and just focus on being with your kids and healing your broken heart?

    I have to believe that you will find your soul mate, your kindred spirit, and not rush things. In the quiet time of contemplation, ask you heart what it needs and give it exactly what it tells you.

    I am sorry for your pain and I do not know what to do to help you. Avil

  12. Veronica
    Veronica says:

    Isn’t it amazing how this kind of thing can still happen to us after our 20’s? Amazing in both a good and bad way. You did the right thing. Some day that will help, but not today. Take extra care of yourself and your kids and it will all be OK.

  13. Ciara
    Ciara says:

    I am really sad for you reading this but coming from rural Ireland I also understand the dilemma of the farmer. Land to a farmer is life and history and continuity. He obviously doesn’t want to do anything else but farm and he feels an obligation to his parents even if the way he is executing it is misguided. The attachment to the land is something he will always have in the same way that your kids will always take priority over whatever man is in your life.

  14. cindy
    cindy says:

    Penelope, I’ve only just begun offering replies to your posts, but a few days ago I commented that your situation reminded me of a four year relationship of mine that just ended; we broke up a ridiculous amount of times. So much so that once, when he broke up with me I said, “Okay, what time are you coming for dinner?”. We laughed. Seriously, that’s something to pay attention to- the constant break ups.

    Also, I realized that I would NEVER come before his family – EVER. All I could see was coming in about 9th on the priority list and that just isn’t good enough. I’m not someone who deserves to be “settled for” and taken for granted after the mom, sisters, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, kids, God, Church, Job and who knows what else is paid attention to while I stand there making a pot of stew for the brood that treats me as “not good enough” when inside I secretly think, “I’m better than this”.

    You are better than this. You aren’t just marrying the farmer. You are marrying his life.

    I was married for quite a long time. Though it ended, during the many years that things were good, he made me feel like a prize on his arm. After the break up with the man mentioned above, who I was with for 4 years, an old friend from 15 years ago stepped back into my life. He too makes me feel like his “prize”. It drove home the difference in the relationships. Being a prize is much better than being made to feel less than. You aren’t less than.

  15. Steven Grant
    Steven Grant says:

    You are lovely and brilliant and good. He is making a dumb choice out of fear and habit.

    You are wise to know this is something you will live through.

  16. JustJessi
    JustJessi says:

    I am relieved that you admit you know you are lost. I’ve been lost and out of my head before. It is the worst feeling, ever. Except for lossing someone to death. Love is the candle that wont die even if you try with all your might to blow it out. Sometimes, you just have to look at it in 3rd party and ask yourself….”am i better with it or without it”? In this case, Penelope, 3rd party it….what i see- he makes you want to love him but you arent getting what you need. He makes you cry, he makes you sad, He makes you lost!

    I know first hand that no one can tell you to stop loving someone when you just CAN’T. And, in some cases maybe you wont EVER stop loving that person. But you need to step outside the situation to really see where this is NOT going. I am not going to tell you that this can never work or that he is wrong for you- that’s for you to realize either way but i will ask you…is it better to be with someone that makes your insides scream in agony, makes your head obssessed, and makes your life be put on hold than to be alone????

    If you should choose to walk away and be alone, your first step should be starting small- choose an anthem song. I know this sounds silly but you need to find yourself, you need to laugh, and you need to believe that there is somebody out there that is worth all the crap that has been thrown your way. Be brave.

  17. SVR
    SVR says:

    Feeling lost myself today after a terrible day at work, I feel not alone on reading this post. Esp because I have a double whammy of also a relationship on verge of break-up. Ah well, all I tell myself, and maybe extend the adivce, for what it is worth to you, “This too shall pass”.

    I need to learn what went wrong, pick myself up & move on. easier said than done…You will be in my thoughts.

    Take care

  18. Shera
    Shera says:

    Yeesh…I feel you. And I send you big hugs and lots of love.
    I have just emerged, blinking, into life again after a six month hiatus spent essentially curled up in the fetal position as a way of dealing with heartache.
    Feel what you’re feeling…process/shed away and give yourself all the time you need. I am alone and had no reason to force myself out of my womb with a view; you have your boys and I’m sure that keeping up with them prevents you from wallowing too much…
    May I make a recommendation? Hit the treadmill and release those pent up endorphins, you will start to feel better in many ways; releasing stress, negativity, soul-sucking sadness, AND comfort calories with each gasp for breath. Start an exercise regime soon, BEFORE you gain 20lbs and feel even worse! Look up “daily affirmations” on the internet…practice them, and practice loving yourself unconditionally.
    Like Celine says, hearts do go on.
    I’m living proof.

    Alright, I’ll stop being all Zen-Yoda on you,

  19. Kerry
    Kerry says:

    Two things:

    1. Becky is right about the relationship between farmers and land. It’s like a relationship with God for them. Seriously. I don’t think we city people can understand it.

    2. I think when you look back, you will find that not moving yourself and your kids to Darlington up front was the best parenting decision you ever made. The idea that they…that HE would want you to move there and audition for the role of person-who-gets-to-stay and let the parents vote you up or down, in front of your children…oh my god. That is beyond cruel. I wonder if this guy really understands what he was expecting you to do there.

    I’m sorry. I was hoping this would work out somehow.

  20. steven germain
    steven germain says:

    I am not sure I get it. You did Framer, Farmer digs you, Framer’s parents, what, not so crazy about you? Ok so what, Framer needs to tell his parents that he is not just a farmer – he is a man. His parents have only one possible claim to a valid judgement about you. Are you a good person, not what do you do, or are you string, or do they like you – are you good. After that their only job is to support their son. What kind of farmer is this guy? A wimp farmer?

  21. Hope
    Hope says:

    I’m sad for you. I dated a man who couldn’t commit for several years between marriages. I was hooked, madly in love, and just couldn’t admit it wasn’t going to work out, although the red flags were flying high. You deserve someone who ‘gets’ you and your life, wants you more than anything, and is willing to move heaven and earth to be with you. Don’t settle until you find him. And know that all your kids really want is for you to be happy. My kids (grown now) don’t even really remember the crazy, uncommitted guy I ‘tried’ to marry. But they know my DH makes me happier than they’ve ever seen me. Hang in there!

  22. Nancy Carroll
    Nancy Carroll says:

    Penelope, I have written and erased here too many times. I don’t really know what to write to “take away” the sadness that permeates your blog. I can feel it. I wish I could come over and just be with you in this place, like a good friend does…”without needing to hide it, or fade it, or fix it”. You are right that you have overcome so many things before and will again. Your relationship with the farmer has opened you and changed you, blessings for sure. You will dance in the sprinkles again.

  23. Kirk in Indy
    Kirk in Indy says:

    This too shall pass… It’s just not meant to be, and will be better for all involved. Easy for me to say, I’m not emotionally involved.
    However, my objectivity is why I can also comment RE: passing along depression (or other ‘issues’) to your kids, keep in mind they need to join you in bed when THEIR needs dictate, not your own…
    From the outside in perspective, it’s been pretty easy to identify issues.
    Wish you ALL the best…

  24. Anna
    Anna says:

    I dated a guy for 8 years, and it eventually became clear that his work was more important to him than I was. It broke my heart to break up with him. But it was devastating to my sense of self to always come in second, and it was so offensive to me that a livelihood could be more important than a person.

    Now I’m dating someone who really wants to be with me, no matter what kind of work either of us does. It is a million times more sustaining.

    And the guy who broke my heart for work? Soon after we broke up, he gave up his career to move to Europe with another woman. Turns out I just wasn’t the one for him.

    In my opinion, you and your kids will be better of with someone who emphatically DOES want to date you.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      BTW, the guy I’m dating now won me over by writing damn good emails, and baking cupcakes with me. So you’re right – those things do work!

  25. Betsey
    Betsey says:

    I usually never post comments on blogs, but I cannot help doing it here on yours. This time, it is because I am too angry on your behalf.

    Ok, then… Drop him. Really, he has his own best interest, not yours. And his family… I am in chock. He needs to stand up for himself (and for you), and he should have done that a long time ago, not giving in to their threats, the gossip etc. In my opinion, he was the one who should protect you from that and he should have put a closure to that loooong time ago. His groundedness is not channelled into firmness when it comes to healthy boundaries, protecting you!

    Knowing, you have battled eating disorders and had anema, this is actually a classic sign of a lack of “Earth” energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine within the body/mind. A lack of support during childhood, a mentally straining job, worry/overwork also contributes to depleting the Earth within us. Which makes me think… You can find that “farmer” energy YOURSELF and within yourself, don’t need it from him. It is avaiable everywhere, even in the city.

    Take care, support is everywhere !!!!!!!

    I hope everything will work out.

  26. Janine
    Janine says:

    oh no, this post was beautiful and so melancholy
    I feel like i need to lie down and deveote all energy into disliking the farmer and sending comforting vibes out to you in the states…

    but what can even even be added after the lovely comments prior to this?

  27. Christine
    Christine says:

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for months. Fell in love with it actually. So many things seem to have paralleled my own life but I am too shy to post so I live vicariously through your blog. After reading this I feel moved to comment. I had a relationship like this back in 1993. It won’t get better and you won’t feel secure even if he does as choose you. Come on Penelope, pull yourself out of it. If I lived near you I would be dragging you out of the house and give you a strong dose of that best girlfriend love that only good friends can give. The kind of friend-love that makes you laugh and have fun even when you feel like something is holding you to the bottom of the pool of self pity. The farmer isn’t the only man in the world and from what I have read, he is a little wishy washy when it comes to the relationship area. The red flags were there, he wasn’t a solid choice for a good relationship. Be strong, find a little distraction, take the kids and go on a road trip or vacation. Just forget the farmer. It all comes down to a saying I heard once, "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option".
    Love your blog and you girl!

  28. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I recall a friend of mine 10 years ago, whose longtime fiance walked away from her for the arranged marriage that his parents insisted on. I was one of the friends to pick up the pieces.

    In time, she healed, met a wonderful man, and married. By contrast, his Indian bride was unhappy in North America and divorced him in 2 years, taking their baby back to India with her. His parents blamed him for the divorce and disowned him. He lost everything.

    It is an unhealthy thing for parents to try to manipulate their grown kids’ lives.

    I feel sadder for the farmer than for you, because he has lost far more.

  29. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    When you marry the man, you marry the family. You are right to walk away from this situation. While no family is perfect, there are plenty of families out there that don’t expect their grown sons to remain man-children. There are plenty of families out there who accept their sons’ wives as there new daughters/sisters/aunts/etc. I know you had a tough time growing up, so I don’t know what your frame of reference is. However, it’s possible – even common – for families to have their idiosyncracies without being mean, controlling, and abusive. My own father-in-law is an asshole, but he doesn’t control what my husband does. Really, the worst thing he does is annoy us.

    I don’t really like to tell people what to do, but I’ve been reading your blog regularly for a couple years and there’s this constant theme in your relations with men. I think it would be good for you to go on a man fast. Be with nobody but yourself for a good stretch of time.

    In your work, you seem really good at seeing exactly what’s going on in front of you. Like most of us, though, in your personal life, not so much. Right?

    I think it’s time for Penelope to nuture Penelope right now. I get a rushed feeling from you – like you’re worried time is running out. It’s not. There’s plenty. I think just stopping, breathing, decompressing will help. It may hurt first. But then it will help.

  30. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Move in with farmer! You’re making a decision based on a worst case scenario and asking the farmer to choose you over his parents when there is no reason why he can’t have both. You are in love with a person who has a deep sense of family commitment. If he loves you with the same depth, this is the sort of person you want in your life at any cost and at any risk. Who cares of they don’t like you? He loves you and if I was on my computer, I would underline love for emphasis… Seriously, you are, as you say, so completely brazen in your professional life. Why not try making the brazen choice in your personal life? I’m in a similar situation (minus the hater sisters) and not only has it worked out so far, I am perfectly content with my life. Don’t give up the farmer!

  31. Lucie
    Lucie says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear things worked out this way. Truly.

    That said, the farmer will NEVER uproot his whole life and business. You should not have asked that of him. It isn’t so easy to throw away 20 yrs. of what he has built along with his family. You are pushing him to pick you over his farm (really his family) to prove he loves you. If you really love him why are you putting him in this position?

    My family has been farming for many generations. Now farming has never been my thing and I could not wait to get away, but if you weren’t raised that way it is difficult to understand. The farm is who he is – his identity – not just his vocation. I am not surprised it is impossible for him to walk away. It isn’t as easy as doing the same work at a different company (different farm). He has built this company (farm) on a daily basis for most of his adult life. He is a lifer.

    Ties on a family farm run deep and he will never separate from his family. This does not mean he does not love you. You should not expect him to abandon who he is and what he loves to prove that.

    The ultimatum was a losing play. Somethings can’t be forced. He has been building his business for 20 yrs. yet you expect him to decide what to do with that legacy and his future within months or weeks? His decision isn’t about you or his feelings for you. Inserting yourself into the choice was a mistake.

    What this will come down to is how much of yourself are you willing to compromise? To be with the farmer you will have to fit into his world, his farm, because I doubt he will ever leave.

    Maybe this is just a case of different worlds, different cultures…but give it time.

    • Sue
      Sue says:

      I think the point is that the parents are forcing this choice. Also they had their son waste $5000 in an effort to come to an agreement so he could marry Penelope and her children. They do not sound like nice people.

      I’m sorry that it had to come to this. I hope things work out for you.

  32. Viviana Sutton
    Viviana Sutton says:

    “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” You’re right, Penelope. I’m so sorry that you are right, but you are – this is the time to answer this question. Not later, after you have moved your sons. So sorry.

  33. rainie
    rainie says:

    Your reasons to ask him to make the choice now are sound. Otherwise, every day is spent analyzing all your interactions with his family. Can you publish a post because his mother will read it? Can you wear this dress to the party or will his sisters hate it? On and on. No, it’s better that you make the choice today rather than allow others to make those decisions for you on a daily basis for years to come.

    The farmer and his family should not make business decisions based on whether they “approve” of someone else who won’t even be tied to the business. It’s better to know now that he wants the farm more than he wants a life with you. Now you can spend some time healing, helping your children heal, and moving on with your life. Some people spend years in relationships before they realize they are playing second fiddle to something else.

    Much love and comfort to you, Penelope. You were right to make this decision when no one else seemed willing to make one.

  34. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    I’m so sorry to read this post and know what you’re going through. I know from experience that if a guy chooses his family over his girlfriend/wife, there is no changing him and the only thing to do is grieve now and move on. I wasted 14 years of my life being married to someone whose parents hated me, much of that time living in a house they owned and therefore being owned by them, and it took a huge toll on me mentally and physically. There are 2 kinds of men: the kind who never can separate from their parents and the kind who want a relationship with a woman and put that above a relationship with their parents. Find the second kind, the kind who will value you and your kids and see you guys as family–not the kind who will keep you and your boys stuck in a bad place because he’s not willing to grow up and be a big boy. You owe it to yourself and to your kids–you all deserve no less than that.

  35. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    UGH. This just *sucks*, no getting around it.

    I was recently left by a man whom I was planning to marry and our main problem was that he always put his family before me. It just didn’t work for me, tho I get that for some women that is ok.

    Your kids will be ok. In the meantime, cry, yell into a pillow and keep writing.

    Sending hugs and soup.


    P.S. Post about Asperger’s this week was AMAZING.

  36. Ayelet
    Ayelet says:

    I agree with jessica and kerry. Pen, you and your kids need to be first in your man’s life. Having been in the kids’ position in this situ, I advise you not to sugarcoat your explanation to them. Tell your kids we only marry someone who thinks we are the toppermost priority. Others might settle for less but the three of us don’t. I would also suggest having a goodbye meeting between the kids and the farmer for closure. Good luck.

  37. Sarah Wood
    Sarah Wood says:

    “Being lost cannot be avoided. The best thing to do is to try to focus on something else. I know from past experience what works: Reading, writing, cuddling with the kids, dating men who write good emails, and cooking recipes that call for lots of sprinkles.” I love this — this is healing while hurting. Beautiful writing. Keep it up, keep it all up; you’re doing amazing work in all areas of life.

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