Our Farming Life

Stubborn Pursuits is our marriage ministry. Our full time profession is farming. I thought some of our readers might be interested in Sharon’s blog about our farm life.

Avalon Farms Ohio

I (Richard) have either lived on the farm or been involved in farming my whole life, so I realize that colors the way I think about life and marriage. On a practical basis it also explains some of the ebb and flow on this blog.

Welcome to life on the farm.

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Honest With God

I thought this was an excellent post by Beth Moore about being gut level honest with God.

One Slender Streak of Clarity

During our separation I remember times when I walked and talked to God at the top of my lungs. Over time things did really get resolved deep inside of me. Somehow Christ did do a deep work in me.

If you ever want examples of people who got gut level honest with God just browse some of the Psalms, Lamentations, or the story of Job.

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I thought that Ann Voskamp had a great reminder in this post on how foundational thankfulness is to our lives. I know that during the worst days of our separation it was such a struggle to be thankful about anything. But, I got to the place where I could be thankful that even though we might not be speaking that day with each other, or that our marriage looked grim at that point, at least that day we were not in front of a divorce judge.

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Make Your Spouse’s Day a Little Brighter

What is one thing you could do today to make your spouse’s day just a little brighter? Here are some some ideas that cross my mind:

  • Put a smile or a heart on a post it note.
  • Use a dry erase marker to leave a note on a mirror in your house.
  • Empty the dishwasher unexpectedly.
  • Send them a text of encouragement, love, appreciation, or flirting.
  • Pray for them.
  • Initiate lovemaking.
  • Respond positively to their initiation of lovemaking.
  • Thank them.
  • Compliment them.

What are some other things you can think of?

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I Could Not Say “Yes”

In Ohio Revised Code 3105.64 in regards to a petition for marriage dissolution it says, “A) Except as provided in division (B) or (C) of this section, not less than thirty nor more than ninety days after the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage, both spouses shall appear before the court, and each spouse shall acknowledge under oath that that spouse voluntarily entered into the separation agreement appended to the petition, that that spouse is satisfied with its terms, and that that spouse seeks dissolution of the marriage.” (emphasis mine)

During our separation when Sharon was asking for a dissolution of our marriage I did not see how I could go into a court of law and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and answer yes to the question that I wanted my marriage dissolved. I absolutely did not want my marriage dissolved and every one who knew me knew that. So in all good conscience I could not ask the court to dissolve my marriage.

Even if she and I had hammered away on a separation agreement and agreed to all the terms about child custody and visitation and financial matters, I am not sure how I could have ever said yes that I was satisfied with its terms. No matter what it looked like, I did not want a separation agreement. We could have split every thing down to the penny and had joint custody with each of us having the kids 3 and 1/2 days per week and I don’t think I would have been satisfied, because I truly believed the best thing and most godly thing for our children was for us to stay together.

As for swearing to the court that I had voluntarily entered into a separation agreement – I don’t think I could have said yes to that either. The only reason I would have even considered signing a separation agreement was from threats of divorce, which is not what I wanted so I really don’t see how that is voluntary. If the word voluntary means that no one had a physical gun to my head, I guess I could have voluntarily agreed to the separation agreement.

Basically, I realized that legally I was giving Sharon no option to get out of our marriage except to pursue a full blown divorce case, but I saw no way to truthfully answer yes to all three questions. Thankfully, I continued to say no to a dissolution and she never filed for divorce and with God’s help we reconciled.

For anyone who is in a situation in which their spouse is pushing for a dissolution and threatening divorce if a dissolution is not signed, I encourage you to really think through whatever statements your state requires you to swear to for a dissolution. If you cannot answer those questions truthfully, then I encourage much prayer and soul searching before your next steps.

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The Intimacy Merry-Go-Round

Merry Go Round In their book, “Stripped Down“, Tony and Alisa Dilorenzo mention six types of intimacy: emotional, intellectual, spiritual, recreational, financial, and physical intimacies. In their book, “Red Hot Monogamy“, Bill and Pam Farrel discuss eight types of intimacy: social, financial, recreational, vocational, parental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual intimacies.

One thing I have realized is that intimacy is like a merry-go-round. If a merry-go-round stops, someone grabs hold of one bar and runs around holding onto it until the merry-go-round gets going again, then they jump on and let centrifugal force keep it spinning for awhile. When the merry-go-round slows down someone else might get off and grab another bar to get it going again. Most likely the bar they grab will not be the same bar that the first person grabbed.

Sometimes it’s easy in a marriage to feel like your relationship has stagnated. If one partner will grab one of the intimacy bars and start running with it, then all different sorts of intimacy start working better and the marriage starts running better. Maybe you jump into some recreational intimacy by going boating, if you both enjoy that. Or you attend a pro-football game, if that is appealing to you. You possibly sit down and tackle some financial challenges and make some decisions to face those hurdles. You could enjoy going to a coffee shop and discuss a book that you have both been reading or a current topic in the news that you both have had thoughts about. Maybe you attend church or synagogue together and afterwards discuss the sermon to build your spiritual intimacy, or share something that God has shown you recently from scripture.

Most often when you get off dead-center in your relationship by pushing on one of the bars for one of the other intimacies then the mutual desire for physical intimacy will come back and happen very naturally. If you have been apart for a few days because of travel, or life has totally interfered and gotten you on a treadmill, you might jump right into some passionate physical intimacy. After you are winding down from that you may feel more emotionally connected and naturally share about some things that have been happening in your world which you haven’t had time to share with your partner.

The nice thing is that either partner can consciously make the effort to grab one of the bars of intimacy to get the merry-go-round going again. And, it’s often wise to grab an intimacy bar that you know deeply touches your partner.

What have you found to be good ways to re-ignite all levels of intimacy in your marriage?

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“I Messed Up”. Those are Freeing Words!

I found this to be a great post from Sheila Gregoire to help people understand that if they are in a tough marriage situation they made bad choices that got them there, but they also can make good choices to make their marriage and life different and better.

One thing I often tell people is that even if they are only 1% responsible for the state of their marriage, then they need to take responsibility for that 1%. When they do, it’s amazing how God can work in their partner and in them to turn their marriage around.

Here’s Sheila’s blog post.


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A Radio Interview

I was honored to be interviewed a few weeks ago on WAPN Radio in North Florida by Penny Bragg of Inverse Ministries. The topic was communication in marriage.  The actual interview is about 20 minutes long and starts about 5-7 minutes in.

Interview on WAPN

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“A Year Without Internet”

If you read this or many other blog sites, have email or Facebook, or surf the web on a regular basis, you have probably questioned yourself if you’ve been on the internet too much, if you truly need it in your life, if your life would be better without it, or if too much internet is the key to all of your problems.

This is an interesting article by a man who was a heavy internet user. He disconnected from the internet for a year and got paid by his employer to write about it. What I found intriguing was that he concluded that the internet itself was not the cause of his problems. He realized that he could make wise or unwise use of his time with or without the internet.

Each of us has to find that balance in our own way; how to use our time wisely whether we are wired to the world, or unplugged. For me, I realize that I have always been a reader. If I am in a grocery line I am grabbing magazines. If I am waiting at the doctor’s office, I either have a book or read magazines. If I am at your house visiting and you go do something for five minutes I will probably find something to read. The internet and my smartphone allow me to read like I always have – just using a different medium.

There are times I deliberately leave my phone at home if Sharon and I go out, knowing that our kids can reach us on her phone. There are times I go for a walk and look at my phone very little. I am finding more and more times when I my put my phone on silent, not just vibrate, at night so that I don’t hear every ding from incoming texts and e mails so that I get a break from it.

What insights has this article sparked in you about how to wisely manage your internet and non-internet life? What steps have you taken to keep your internet use in balance with the rest of your life?

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Marriage Promises Compared to Loan Promises

Traditional marriage vows, which are used or slightly modified by a high percentage of couples getting married, go something like this, “I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death us do part.”

Traditionally the man speaks his vows first and then the woman. Notice that there are no if’s, and’s, or but’s, and no escape clauses. Notice the man makes his promises before the woman makes any promises, and her promises are not conditional upon him filling his promises. Also notice that the length of time for the vow is “until death do us part.”

Now compare this to common language used in Loan Agreements for cars, equipment, mortgages for houses, etc.

I happened to pull out my Loan Agreement from John Deere Financial for my tractor. It reads in part, “You agree to pay us the amount financed, together with finance charges from the date finance charges begins at the annual percentage rate, by remitting each of the installment payments on or before the due dates indicated.” Then in CAPS it states “YOUR PAYMENT OBLIGATIONS ARE ABSOLUTE AND UNCONDITIONAL, AND ARE NOT SUBJECT TO CANCELLATION, REDUCTION, OR SETOFF FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER”.

In other words, it does not matter if I don’t like the tractor, if I bought the tractor too big or too small, or even if John Deere sold me a lemon tractor, or if I have a bad crop or if crop prices are low, I have promised John Deere Financial that I will pay them. Period.

Then later in the contract they have a whole section about default, i.e. if I don’t pay them, and then even more sections about remedies for them if I did not pay, which include them taking the tractor back, selling it, and charging me for any loss they take, and attorneys fees, etc. etc. These kinds of clauses are in almost every loan or mortgage you sign.

I think many couples go into the marriage with the intention of it being a very serious life long comitment with no outs, but then when things get tough, they start looking for the escape clauses like they are used to in every loan. However, if you really look at the promises that they said to each other, there are no escape clauses. Those are the promises that they said to each other in front of God, family and friends.

Getting a marriage license from the state allows you to get legally married, but the actual act of getting married is the promises you make to each other in front of someone sanctioned by the state to sanction those promises you make to each other.

In my mind, if you are a Christian, when you are facing a divorce there are three key things to think about in deciding what to do. They are, “What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce?” “What promises did I make?” and “What are the rules of my state?”.

I have blogged about the Bible’s view on marriage and divorce and the laws on marriage and divorce at other times, so today I just wanted to focus on the promises that couples typically make.

One thing we know from scripture is that God takes promises very seriously. Proverbs 20:25 (Amplified Bible) says, “It is a snare to a man to utter a vow [of consecration] rashly and [not until] afterward inquire [whether he can fulfill it]”.

What do you think about the permanence of the marriage vows?

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