A book with major significance in helping struggling couples find the best way to resolve differences and accept love was introduced in 1995 by Gary Chapman.
According to Chapman, each person has a dominant method of expressing love and receiving love. The five major methods of love expression and acceptance are gifts, time, words, service and physical touch.
The thesis of Chapman’s book is that people may love each other but may express that love in methods that the object of the love does not recognize as love. For instance, a husband may think he loves his wife by buying her flowers. However, the wife may feel unloved because the husband does not take the time to listen in conversations important to the wife.
Chapman’s thesis also applies in business, particularly when a family business is being succeeded by some but not all descendants of a senior generation.
Farm succession planning is a classic example. Family members who desire to carry on a family farm have no desire (and may be appalled to consider) selling farmland or certain farm machinery for money. Many of them seek only a simple, sustainable lifestyle along with the chance to create life and raise a family.
In contrast, non-farm family members may value financial freedom as paramount in light of living an entirely different lifestyle. Non-farm family members can become disheartened if they feel that land worth millions of dollars is being controlled (and could be sold) by on-farm family members while non-farm family members receive cash that is worth significantly less. Essentially, the non-farm family member perceives that the farm family member is receiving more “love” (dollars).
In these situations, Chapman’s thesis can promote resolution and understanding. To demonstrate the sincerity of the on-farm family members’ definition of value, I often have on-farm family members agree to share all sale proceeds with off-farm family members if the farmland is sold within five or 10 years after the on-farm family members receive ownership or control.
Similarly, some farmland landlords do not allow their tenants to bale the straw that remains after harvest of winter wheat. Those landlords often feel (justifiably) that the removal of the straw will decrease the soil quality. However, tenants may want to bale the straw and even give straw sale proceeds to the landlord, just to have a place to timely and properly apply animal manure, which also increases soil quality.
In this situation, the landlord and the tenant both seek maximum soil health (and “love” for the farmland). However, their methods of expressing that love are different. Unless and until the landlord and the tenant explore their different methods of trying to love the land that they collectively nurture, either the landlord or the tenant can improperly perceive that the other does not have sufficient love for the land.
Business and the law certainly require technical knowledge. However, principles of daily life, like those shared by Chapman, can apply to business and law as well as they apply to the love between human beings.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.