Real Life Ranch Wife

Advice for Marrying a Cowboy

a cowboy's spurs are found many places

Before marrying a cowboy, consider these tried-and-true tips from a genuine ranch wife.

In honor of Jim’s and my wedding anniversary this month, I put together a short list of advice for other potential ranch wives on marrying a cowboy. It’s a short list that I’m not sure I’m qualified to write, because I’m still confused why I find spurs in the fruit bowl and why my husband needs to buy so many ropes. But I guess I’ve survived marriage to my cowboy husband on seven different ranches in three states during the last eight years, so maybe I know a little bit about marital bliss as it applies to dirt roads and cow manure. 

a cowboy's spurs
A ranch wife sometimes find spurs in the fruit bowl rather than on her cowboy’s boots.
Photo by Jolyn Young

Don’t expect that a gold ring and a couple of kids will make him hang up his spurs.

If your cowboy was addicted to jackpot ropings and ranch rodeos while you were dating, you’ll probably have to drag him away by his hair if you want him to join you and the kids for a Saturday at the lake once you’re married. My advice: When trimming his hair, don’t go shorter than a No. 5 blade guard on top. Dragging him away for a family fun day is easier if you have a little something to hang onto.

Just say no …

… to all the longhorn cattle, half-started reservation horses, hound-dog puppies, random burros and goats (for the kids, of course) that he wants to bring home. All the cowboys reading this right now are yelling “No! She’s a crazy lady! Don’t listen to her! We need more livestock!”

And all their wives are like, “Hallelujah! She gets us!”

When the wagon pulls out and he’s off on a big camping trip with his favorite horse, guess who’s going to be chasing loose horses through the front yard in her nightgown and calling the dog catcher once a week just to check in? Yep, that’s right—you. And me, so air high-five to us, sister.

Always keep a qualified local mechanic on speed dial.

At some point, your cowboy husband will say, “Honey, hand me the grinder, I’m going to change a tire.” Then bam, like magic, you suddenly have no lug nuts. And then you’ll have to drive your car with a leaky tire 60 miles to the nearest shop, where you’ll have to tell the mechanic, “Yes, I realize some of the lug nuts are missing their corners. Yes, I issued verbal consent for this to happen. Yes, I married a cowboy. Yes, I will hide the power tools as soon as I get home. Thank you, for your time and effort. I’ll bring a pizza by the shop next time I’m in town.”

Pick a good one.

Politeness, work ethic and a handsome face are all well and good, but you’d also better pick a cowboy with above-average roping and riding skills if you plan on being a career ranch wife. If you live on big outfits, your family’s collective ability to obtain shelter, beef and a monthly paycheck depends on your husband’s ability to catch the cow and ride the bronc. He might not be able to afford a brand-new pickup or a vacation to the south of France, but a good cowboy can always get a job and provide for his family, and that makes him worth marrying.

7 thoughts on “Advice for Marrying a Cowboy”

  1. I still single. I never met my cowboy but in the event I still do. I glad my dad taught me how to use the power tool and change the breaks. Love your article.

  2. From Santa Fe Horse Co down here in Florida. East, west, north or south you nailed it. Marrying a cowboy is not for the faint of heart. The first time he so kindly unsaddled my horse for me I just knew I’d found the sweetest and definently the most handsome cowboy I’d ever met and then he made a half turn as he was pulling the saddle of and dropped my $3500. cutting saddle (that I treasured) down on the concrete. I of course didn’t say anything to him because I was still so enamored with him. So long story short I’m still going behind him picking up saddles, tools, clothes etc. They are what they are and that’s how you have to love them. They dance to the beat of a different drum for sure. I’m 17 years in and wouldn’t change a thing about him.

  3. I loved a Cowboy at a distance. We were best friends for 62 years. He did move around a lot. One of the most gentle person I knew. It’s hard to love a Cowboy but even harder not to love one

    • What a beautiful comment, Georgia! I live in Europe and we don’t have cowboys here. I’ve seen a documentary some time ago about a horseman from Montana and really made an impression on me. I also enjoy watching bull riding a little bit too much, haha!

      A big hug to you????


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