When I think about what my vision of marriage used to be, it was basically to be fulfilled by it. To be completed by my husband, made whole. And when I thought of having children, I thought about pouring my love into them until they grew up and magically became adults. I didn’t think about the difficulties, the sacrifices, the heartbreaking agony of having to watch my loved ones suffer, in little and big ways. I didn’t anticipate my own lack of control over circumstances or the (often very strong) free will in my children and husband.
Over the past few years, marriage, raising a teenager, and starting the farm has broken me, but in the best way. For me, this messy life on the farm has mostly been a five-year process of undoing the lies I’ve believed about myself, marriage, love, and family. One of those lies is that Nick and I must be the same in order to be equal. I was frustrated in our marriage for so long because I expected him to be like me. To think like a woman, to respond like a woman. To be sensitive, emotional, intuitive, to look around the house or our family and pick up on the same things I saw. And it’s complicated, because he is called to be sensitive to our children’s feelings, to love them well, to be in touch with his emotions, and to bring his entire self to our family. But it’s also my calling to love him well when he cannot. And it’s only when I accept our differences that I can do that.
We complement, not duplicate, each other. He is not me. He is not a woman, nor will he ever think like one. And women have so many beautiful gifts. We are nurturing and intuitive. We are in tune with emotions and relationally driven. This farm journey has helped me find so many of my feminine strengths, and yet, just like Nick, I am limited. I do not have what it takes to run the farm or to do the immense amount of planning, labor, constant monitoring of detail, organizing, and fixing. He sees things much more clearly than I do at times, especially when it comes to behaviors and boundaries. He has far more self-control and discipline than I ever will hope to possess. (The man hasn’t eaten sugar or meat in at least 15 YEARS.) While I am the master of coming up with great ideas, he’s the master of carrying them out, even when I tire of them or lose interest. He is steadfast and will hold the course, while I am impulsive. And sometimes now, when our differences are most evident, I can see him choosing to love me when he understands me the least. He loves with a birds-eye view, while my method of loving is much more close-up. He possesses amazing masculine gifts which I am not blessed with, and it’s only when I accept them and celebrate them that I can love him fully.
In our old life, none of this was possible for us. It is clear we needed a radical and difficult life change for us to learn the possibilities of marriage, to stretch our ideas of love and family. On the farm, I can see Nick using his God-given skills and gifts daily, if I pay attention. He is right in front of me, every day, and this may be the biggest gift of all.