>35% of modern marriages are due to online dating and this statistic is rising fast. It is a social trend that is impacting farm succession in some cases in a big way! You see most farmers are lying publically about how they actually met their bride and yet within the family there are reservations and concerns. It’s affecting family dynamics. How a girl/boy is greeted into a family affects farm family dynamics 30 years out and definitely has an impact on the business relationship.
On one farm, there was a father and son whom were as tight as could be. Yet within a year they stopped speaking altogether and the son left the farm because of what happened. The sin? The son met a nice Christian Farm girl from a different state on a Christian Dating website and was married within six months.
The root problem was that the father didn’t respect this internet dating introduction as a legitimate way to meet. He said “it is a way for losers to breed”. Dad did not rollout the welcome mat on the farm for this girl and the son was really hurt that his father would be so rude to the girl he loved. Things just got worse from there…
The son and his girlfriend talked on the phone and flirted on the internet till the wee hours of the morning. They lived 7 hours apart. He went to meet her folks a few times and she came to the farm a few times. Then one weekend they eloped and suddenly a new bride was on the farm. Although the son had gotten to know his girlfriend probably better than the average groom in this process, the parents had no idea about who this girl was or much about her. It concerned them.
The fear of a “gold digger” or “nut” suddenly entering the family sets off alarm bells.
What folks don’t realize is that internet dating tends to be a faster process. Both individuals are at a life stage where they are ready to get married and they went online to a quality dating site specifically because of this. Their motivations are more altruistic and it’s a completely different criteria for spousal evaluation than meeting a girl in a bar. Marriages within less than a year of meeting online is not unheard of! In our current society we tend to date “local girls” for years, but 100 years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a similar short yet sweet courtship to occur.
What Dad didn’t realize was subliminally he was jealous of the relationship. He had an extremely tight relationship with his son and part of that role was now replaced by a strange woman he didn’t know. It was a strange emotional feeling and awkward life transition. Had the girl been local, it would have been more of a gradual process but because it was a sudden six-month courtship it was an overwhelming transition. A turf war developed. It’s a sad state to see the most amazing father/son relationship break up almost overnight because of this awkward transition and it’s a hidden problem many farm families are dealing with.
If you are a real farmer, then you work a lot. It’s not like your working in Hollywood and meeting dozens of girls daily. You are tied to the girls within your local church/ community as potential mates. For a lot of farm boys that were teenagers in their 20’s, the local sweethearts might never recognize “the new you”. 50 years ago there were a lot of unmarried bachelors for this very reason.
You’ve also got to ask yourself, what kind of girl do you want your son to bring onto the farm? Do you want your son dating a local girl who possibly could be a high school drop on meth or a girl going to University of Iowa for Agriculture? What kind of girl is he most likely to meet if he goes to your local town pub this afternoon?
Think about neighbors whose sons married girls “below their potential” and the impact that those individuals has had on family relationships and the business.
The advantage of online dating is that it allows your son/daughter to find the best quality match for them. Not just what is geographically convenient.
For Christian Farm Families hoping their son marries a true Christian, then online dating is an amazing filter to find the right type of girl. Their priorities come out in their profile and if God is first in their life, then it will be evident. Such conversations rarely ever happen at a bar…
Now the downside to all of this is that I’ve seen several cases where online dating took over a farm boy’s life where he was online till the wee hours of the morning and not getting out of bed to do chores. Just like every 30 something year old, work has to come first and performance can’t be hampered. Regardless if you are suddenly in love, you’ve got to balance your social life with your work life and not let this negatively affect your family’s business. No excuses!
That said, should a son/daughter find a suitable mate whom is outside of your local area, arranging fair vacation time and being supportive is key to relationship’s success. Obviously, these holidays can’t be during spring planting or combining. Just tell your son straight up that arranging for “special vacations” from the farm, isn’t going to happen often so he had better do a good job “vetting” through phone interviews before wasting time/money running around the country dating girls.
When the potential mate comes to your farm, roll out the red carpet. I cannot emphasize how critical first impressions are. It’s normal to be skeptical, but remember your potential daughter in law is walking in that door and she is more skeptical because someday she might have to leaver “her world” for yours. Whether she does your soiled laundry or ships you off to the nursing home in 30 years time,, greatly depends on the first 30 minutes of your welcoming her to the farm.
Several research studies have found marriages through online dating after five years are have lower probability of breakups than normal dating. Reducing the probability of divorce through good mate selection is both good for your family and most importantly good for the long-term success of your family business.