We never anticipated the farm would motivate us to share our relationship story, but so many things have happened differently than we could have imagined. Just as we underestimated the amount of work it would take to start this new business, we’ve discovered getting our marriage on the right track took much more than just working together on the farm. The last few years have required us to dismantle everything we thought we knew about marriage and learn it all again. They have taught us how to sacrifice, how to pursue the other’s heart, how to arrange our family, and how to love. Our marriage growth has been such a significant part of this goat farm venture that we were led to risk and put it out there.
Here’s what I’ve figured out about marriage since we turned the ship: it brings out the very best and worst in me, and it is teaching me what love truly looks like. Daily, our marriage requires me to break down the walls I’ve built around my heart and soul. It’s not a place where I can hide, even from myself, and what I’ve discovered is humbling. Married life shines a light on all my weaknesses and the parts of my character that I’d prefer to keep concealed…but here’s the best part: Nick loves me anyway. Even though I’ve shown him the worst parts of myself, he is still here. So maybe the real lesson I’ve learned through marriage is this: I am loveable, despite all my faults. This is grace.
The farm has required virtue from me that I do not have. I’d prefer life to be comfortable and easy, with few obstacles and little conflict. Now, I am asked to work harder than I’d like, to give more than I want to give, and to be stronger than I am. None of this comes easily to me, and I frequently pitch fits before I go ahead and do what is required of me. Nick is the lucky guy who gets to witness me hit the end of my rope, and he is patient, loving, and kind when I do. His love motivates me to keep going and get the job done, and when I do, I am always surprised that I could.
I don’t think we would have learned these valuable lessons if we hadn’t started the farm. The way our life was constructed before, we didn’t have to. We had designed an easy existence for ourselves, one that allowed us to circumvent our weaknesses, and were content to continue that way. Until we weren’t.
After a couple of long years learning to communicate, interacting on an emotional level, being vulnerable, and pursuing Allison’s heart, I started to become more fully trusted by her. It was when we learned how men and women are different, and how those differences work together to complement each other, that we started to really examine how we related. We’d seen how our life of 50/50 family leadership led to conflict. It was clear each of us were better at some things than the other, and with more trust, we began to experiment.
I began to lead our family in areas that I had been fearful of…fearful of criticism, challenge… like being head disciplinarian, keeping order, and the family’s spiritual growth. Providing financial and physical protection was a given role, but what I had to step up was protecting the dignity and character of my wife and kids, and when I couldn’t provide something, to suffer along with them. This led to a feeling of Allison and I being two halves of one being: what she feels, I feel. When I committed to my total sacrifice for the care of my wife and kids, I started getting back so much more than what I was giving. That give and get was so refreshing, it gave us all new life.
We definitely still have family relational bumps and difficulties, but now, we seem to grow by them rather than just bandaging up. Our family unit has grown into our primary support system we each need to overcome challenges so we can live more in love and peace. It’s our framework of authority, stability, and life relationships that’s the foundation for our place in society.
A note on spirituality. Our marriage and family development has happened in large part to our concurrent spiritual growth. I believe that individual and relational improvements can happen with a weak or no spiritual connection, but it sure has helped us to understand our reason for existence and earthly purpose when facing the inherent challenges of living in love and peace.