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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

Freedom Fighter

At the start of this new year, Stacey and I are on a new training regimen. We received a new workout series on DVD for Christmas and are throwing ourselves into fitness and nutrition.

On the third day of exercise, I threw myself into the program just a little too hard. I seriously pulled a muscle in my neck and back area—a muscle that I was not previously aware of. Now I look like Frankenstein when I try to back the car out of the garage.

It has been this way for most of the weekend, and Stacey has been noticing what she calls my “low tolerance” for pain. We’ve watched the Mythbusters episode where they have proven women have higher thresholds for pain than men, but still. It hurts.

I recognize I have not been my best self the past few days. We went for a walk at a nearby county park to get some fresh air, and I overreacted to a simple event and threw the whole outing off. Before we had the chance to catch up with one another and talk about it to get to the bottom of everything, we had returned home and got distracted with other pressing things—visitors coming over, an evening outing with a sitter, etc.

By the time the end of the night came around, it was past midnight and we hadn’t yet processed what had happened. It had somewhat passed through my mind, and I was comfortable with where things were. I didn’t feel anything heavy between us, but that was not Stacey’s experience.

So, we sat down and shared about the day, where it went off track, and how that had placed a small barrier between us for the rest of the evening. She explained that as we were progressing through the rest of our events and outings, she was feeling disconnected from me. I realized that I was simply glad to have some distractions throughout the evening to pull me out of my foul mood (which was partly due to feeling like someone had tied my back muscles in a knot).

When we got to the bottom of things, and had regained level ground between us, I realized that I had been rather self-absorbed. I threw a wrench into the afternoon, then blithely skipped through the rest of the day, happy to be amused and distracted. Meanwhile, Stacey was searching for me.

I was grateful that she stuck with it, even if that meant a heart-felt talk after midnight. She was persistently fighting for the good space in our marriage. I saw that and it inspired me to fight, too.

Faithfulness in marriage is often defined as making sure you don’t invest emotions with someone other than your spouse, but I’m coming to see it as so much more. In a positive, proactive sense, it is being faithful to preserving open-heartedness, especially on a day-to-day basis. In fact, the day-to-day is the only place where that battle is fought.

I feel lucky to have such a faithful warrior for a spouse, and I’m enlisting to join her in the war on complacency.