She wants to marry the farmer, but not the farm

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: I've been dating the absolute greatest guy, "Steve," for more than a year. We have discussed marriage, and I love him, but I'm wary because of his home situation.

Steve went to live with his dad and stepmother, "Vicki," on their dairy farm at age 17, after his mom died. He loves the farm, and when his dad died a few years ago, he stayed on to help Vicki run things. I'm a reporter, and we met when I interviewed him for a story about the farm-to-table phenomenon.

I really like Vicki, but I don't want to feel like an outsider in my own home. Which I believe will be inevitable in this situation.

I have no interest in the farm at all, so it will still be Steve and Vicki running it together after our marriage. Vicki is only in her 50s, so things are not going to change much for the foreseeable future.

We have tentatively discussed living elsewhere while Steve still runs the farm, but it would be something of a hardship for him, and he doesn't see any need to do so since there's plenty of room in the huge old farmhouse. I can't help but wonder if it will ever really feel like my home, though. I have been on my own since college, when I left my dysfunctional family behind, so maybe I'm making too much out of joining a multigenerational household. Advice?

Answer: I feel like I'm answering a movie plot here, so I'm going to post this and duck.

You have two issues, not just the never-my-home one. You're planning to marry someone whose central purpose is one you have "no interest in ... at all." I'm not saying that can't work, but you at least have to think really, really hard about what it will take to make it work before you sign up for it.

As for the household, this might be ridiculous depending on costs in your area, but what about building your own home on the property? Or remodeling the home to give you an apartment in it so you can close the door to your own space.

Just stuff to think about.

Comment: As one who grew up on a farm, I don't think there's a way for you to be married to a farmer and not be involved. My mom was not a country girl, but she certainly became one. So many things in farming are unknowns where you're hoping for the best that I can't imagine a partner being completely separated from that.

Original writer: It really is my life - not a movie. There's no land to spare for another house as the farm is tucked into a mostly suburban area. I don't think Vicki is keen on remodeling the farmhouse, but it's worth looking into. Anyway, I guess I still have some thinking to do. Thanks.

Reply: Sure thing. Let us know how it goes.

tellme@washpost.com.

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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