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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.


As you’ve read, Stacey recently underwent a pilgrimage to Madrid for World Youth Day. She was gone from the family for ten days or so, and it has been good to have her home these last few weeks.

The kids and I stayed busy while she was gone to Spain. The kids had a series of camps and swimming lessons to attend. I even took them camping at the Oregon coast for a night, which turned into a spontaneous water fight when we were unpacking. Simon got the hang of riding a bike without training wheels, and we made regular trips to the library. We maybe watched a little more TV than we normally do, but we got by just fine.

When Stacey returned, we did have a “re-integration” phase to go through. The kids and I had to widen our circle, so to speak, to re-establish our family rhythm and cadence. No more Cheetos at lunch, for example. That’s a treat.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much communication Stacey and I have been sharing lately. She obviously has a lot of experiences to share from her pilgrimage, and those stories have been spilling out from time to time over the last few weeks. For my part, while she was away I had the chance to make observations about what our family needs and how we are growing.

Stacey and I have been simply gravitating towards each other lately—either lounging on the couch or out on a date—and we’ll just share our thoughts with one another. It is playing “catch-up” in part, but it is also more than that. We are sharing our thoughts and ideas to make sure that we’re of one mind about our family life, that our hopes and fears coincide.

It reminds me of a passage from St. John Chrysostom about marriage that I read when we were dating. Renowned for his eloquence, the “golden tongued” saint said that young husbands should say to their wives: “I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”

I can remember reading that and being inspired by it, but also a little mystified. At the time, we were sophomores in college, and still learning about each other. I wondered what it meant to be so close to someone that being of a different mind would be painful.

It makes sense to me now, though. Being of one mind is not about becoming bland or robotic or predictable, as though we find commonality in the lowest common denominator between us. The union of marriage does not result in a reduction, I’ve learned, but a multiplication. Our marriage has allowed each of our personalities to blossom.

Being of one mind, then, is not about controlling thoughts and behavior, but grounding our personalities in union of purpose and commitment. That union allows us freedom to grow into the people we were created to be.