One of my favorite rancher wives once told me that she chooses NOT to work beside her husband a lot of times because she doesn’t have thick enough skin. Its not that her husband is grouchy and it isn’t ever her husband that is the problem, but to keep things happy in all corners, she just stays out of it.
From her words of wisdom and my own experiences over the last few years, I have learned two things. First, if I can’t handle what the cowboys say, I’d better stay out of the work. And second, I if I’m determined to work with them, I better grow some thick skin to be able to handle it all.
You know me… although the best way to go would be to go with the first little lesson I learned, I’m taking the harder way and following the second.
There are a few reasons a person might need some thicker skin when working with the cowboys, especially if its your husband. At home, he calls you honey and sweetheart and any other pet name I might not want to know. But those lovy names are totally forgotten once the two of you are out the door to work. All of the sudden, he sounds a little cold or distant and pretty soon, you begin to wonder if you did something wrong. Really, what has happened is that he has his rancher hat on and that is all that is on his mind. Don’t worry, he will warm back up to you when the work is done!
Now, unfortunately, ranch work can be noisy. Really, REALLY noisy. Loud tractors or pumps, noisy, bellaring cows and so much more. Hearing anybody talking to you over any of this noise is nearly impossible. So the easiest solution to this problem is just to talk louder than the noise. Most commonly known as YELLING. Yep, I just admitted it, my husband yells at me. At least that is what I used to think. That quick, “CLOSE THE GATE!” without any tender love or affection can cut a wife right to the heart if she doesn’t have some thick skin to protect her. But once ya learn that he is yelling TO you, not AT you, its not so bad. In reality, anything he might be yelling to you is probably to help you do your job better or to keep you safe. Just read it as his way of saying “I love you.”
Eventually, any ranch wife that decides to help the guys get the work done, is going to make a mistake. Its hard to admit, but we wives aren’t perfect. We try hard to be perfect because there are some pretty intense expectations of the level of work that needs to be done and inevitably we might miss the mark. And without any warning or intention, some words might slip out of somebody’s mouth and somebody’s feelings are hurt. I’ve been there thinking, “I am here helping you get YOUR work done and I am doing MY BEST and you are mad at me?!”
But in all honesty, I had made a mistake.
And I hate to admit it.
But in admitting my mistake, it actually made things better.
I’m sure that there are a lot of other wives out there that have their own stories and lessons they have learned about how to make it working with their husbands on the ranch. But ultimately, if you’re going to work with the guys, you gotta handle whatever they might say. Some of it they mean, some of it they don’t. But some thick skin can go a long way to keep things happy at home.
Because really, it can’t get more true than the t-shirt that says, “Sorry for what I said when we were working cattle!”