Forgive Generously

I’ve been married 36 years and am still learning what makes a good marriage. Recently while traveling I listened to a podcast, Bob Lepine author of Build a Stronger Marriage was sharing insights.

He shared late speaker and author Gary Smalley’s most important marriage advice, learn how to resolve conflict and forgive. In fact, be a generous forgiver.

I realized it was not only good guidance for marriage but for everyone especially farm families.


Working together in hectic and stressful farming situations can create conflict and misunderstanding for the most loving farm families. Sprinkle in an unexpected financial challenge or equipment breakdown and the calmest person will be agitated.

A child psychologist once told us, they act out more at home because they feel most comfortable there. I’ve found it to be true for people of all ages.

It’s not all beautiful sunsets and pretty green hayfields on a farm there are disagreements too. How they are handled makes a difference.


Often disagreements and grudges are a result of an assumption. Assumptions are not necessarily true. It is best to ask the person instead of presuming you know what they are thinking or blaming an action on the person.

Sadly, I’ve witnessed farm families broken apart by assumptions lacking facts to prove validity. One or more people are “sure” they know who caused an issue, but there’s no way to prove or disprove it. The accused said they didn’t do it, but still the grudge wears on causing separation in the family.

Resolve Conflict

Gary Smalley didn’t say if conflict occurs, he said learn how to resolve conflict. He knew arguments were a given in marriage and it’s also a given in farm families.

Since it’s a given, the best option is for farm families to learn how to talk through the issues and resolve the conflict. Compromise may be required in order to come to an agreement.

Forgive Generously

The term indicates a need to forgive freely, not begrudgingly. In fact, the biblical example of 70×7 comes to my mind and I am guessing Gary Smalley was thinking of that too.

Forgiving generously requires us to completely lay down the wrong or the assumption, etc. and never pick it back up. If we do, we need to consciously let it go again, as many times as it takes.

Family Held to a Higher Standard

Those who forgive strangers ought to also eagerly forgive family members. Afterall we are called to forgive both.

Many farm families refuse to acknowledge direct relatives for various reasons. The same people will agree generous forgiveness is a great marriage tip and confirm the biblical 70×7 example. Farm families are not exempt.

It appears the expectation of family is perfection and unfortunately people aren’t perfect, and things happen. Family is too precious. Don’t give up the ability to communicate and cherish blood relatives because of hurt feelings, conflict, or old issues.

Begin the conversation and the healing today, swallow your pride and take a step forward to mend broken relationships and begin the forgiveness process. 

Picture of Darlene Livingston

Darlene Livingston

has served as the Executive Director of PA Farm Link for 13 years. Leading the organization’s farm succession education and facilitation programs, assisting with farmer and land databases, beginning farmer and farm stress work.

Darlene has been instrumental in bringing farm succession to the forefront in Pennsylvania. Through her leadership two International Farm Transition Network Coordinator trainings have been held in Pennsylvania along with continued education programs for ag professionals.

Born and raised on a diversified farm, Darlene has a lifetime of farm experience working with three generations on the farm.

If you'd like to learn more about PA Farm Link, the farm succession facilitation services or have questions about succession planning please call 717-705-2121 or email

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