My husband and I have been married for more than 12 years. Together we have one son, one mother-in-law, 25 milk cows, five greenhouses and eight acres of vegetables. There are times during the year that this diversification causes serious conflicts. I am lucky to get my groceries or my son a hair cut. My beloved gets away even less. You see we simply do not have time to fight or nit pick.
We joke that our favorite thing to do is sleep. But, in reality, it's no joke. Going to sleep is the only thing that is not work that we always do together at the same time. Our souls seem to reconnect in the few moments before we drop off.
A special pleasure that we quietly bring home to each other in our marriage is the connection we have with our friends. Whether it is a wave of greeting to a passing friend or a quick venting of a complaint about what went wrong at the shop, there is a true but oft unspoken acceptance that we in the community are basically trying to stay afloat in similar boats.
The best rejuvenation is remembering God is the artist of His universe. He blesses us with ability, stamina and courage. He is our work, our family, our marriage and our connection.
Your letter sums up many of the things it takes to have a satisfying relationship. Your diversified operation may be different from others', but you face the same types of challenges as any other farming operation. Nearly every family I know, whether farm family or town family, seems to meet themselves coming and going. A successful business often requires diversification, and it sounds like your family has plunged headlong into the challenge.
In addition, having an in-law living with you and the further pressure that causes certainly could be stressful. More than one person has described having an in-law living with them as turning their home into a minefield.
Your balance, however, is achieved through a strong spiritual life, contact and support from friends in the community and living in the moment with your spouse. Simple things like enjoying the time together just before you drop off to sleep gives you the support you need to do everything that needs to be done.
Your description of everyone in your community trying their best to stay afloat in similar boats is great. It shows the support and bond you feel with the people around you. Humans draw strength from connections to other humans. The people who are best able to cope with life's unpredictability have a number of people they feel they can turn to.
You seem to have a positive attitude and are focused on creating the best experience possible in a busy life. However, you don't mention the things that you would actually do to recharge a marriage and family. It may seem that when there's a lot to do, trying to get away from it all can cause more problems than it solves. Being busy is a fulfilling way of life for many people, but don't forget the adage that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work. Take time to create memories for your child as a parent and a family. Those are the things that children remember and cherish as adults.
Mail your questions to: Helpline, Farm Journal, P.O. Box 958, Mexico, MO 65265. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Your message will remain confidential! Individual personal replies are not possible. All advice is the sole opinion of Jonathan D. Finck and should not be considered a replacement for seeking professional help.