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Just Married

Margaret Feinberg
(Harvest House)
ISBN: 9780736915076

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Kick Off World War III (or at Least Make Your Spouse Really, Really Upset)

1. Respond to everything your spouse says for the next seven days with "That sounds nice, honey."

2. When your spouse asks you to do something, say “Yes” and then go do something else.

3. Refuse to do dishes, clean, pick up, put gas in the car, or pay a bill for 30 days.

4. Eat beans for the next two weeks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

5. Hide the laundry detergent.

6. Go shopping and buy everything you see.

7. Throw away all of your bills.

8. Talk about yourself all the time.

9. Don't shower or bathe for as long as you can stand yourself.

10. Schedule dinner dates, meetings, and appointments your spouse needs to attend, but don’t tell him or her until ten minutes before you need to be there.

11. Don't buy any groceries.

12. When your spouse leans in to kiss you, offer only your cheek.

Note: None of these are recommended for marriages you want to last.


Just Married: Newlyweds Tell All

By Margaret Feinberg In her book, Just Married, author Margaret Feinberg walks newly married couples through their first exciting years of marriage. She explores issues that all newlweds face, including communication, conflict resolution, and forgiveness. In her candid and humorous writing style, Feinberg also addresses areas such as sex and money, in which couples find that they have to make adjustments to their previous habits and expectations.

Just Married also tackles one of the biggest challenges for newlyweds—establishing their relationships with God both as individuals and as a married couple. Read an excerpt below.


Some Things Never Change

Take each other for better or worse, but not for granted.
— Arlene Dahl

My husband and I just got back from a romantic whisk-away weekend to an island cabin on a nearby shore.

Well, technically, it wasn’t very “whisk-away,” since we had to plan it two months in advance because our lives and schedules are insanely busy. And I guess you can’t really call it a “weekend,” since my husband got called into work at the last minute and we were only able to spend one night at the cabin. And maybe “romantic” is a stretch too, since we ate a candle-less taco dinner on paper plates.

But it was our first attempt at a romantic whisk-away weekend. We’re new at this sort of thing, and we’re determined to get better at it. Next time we’ll pack the candles, steak, salad, and thinly sliced potatoes. We’ll bring a cooler with chilled cheesecake and sparkling cider. We’ll bring eggs, fresh fruit, baked goods, and French vanilla coffee for breakfast. We’ll pack romantic CDs and DVDs, games that will make us laugh, and soft blankets that will keep us warm. And in the end, we’ll have enough bags to make people think we’re going to be gone for an entire month.

Not too long ago, I entered the world of being a newlywed, and I’m still trying to play catch-up. Whether it’s learning how to plan for a romantic whisk-away weekend, merge two checking accounts, or avoid arguing over the dumbest little things, I’ve discovered I have a lot to discover. But even with the steep learning curve, I am grateful to be married. Now, don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my seemingly carefree days of being single, when I could jet off to see friends for the weekend (assuming I could live with the aftermath of credit card debt), drink milk out of the carton without feeling guilty or like a hypocrite, leave dirty dishes sitting for days on end without being held accountable, and shop without anyone asking, “You bought what?”

Yep. Those were the days. Now these are the days, and they are rich and textured and filled with more mystery, wonder, and reasons to laugh than I could have ever imagined. Some days marriage feels like a long catnap, nestled next to a window where the sun’s rays warm my soul. Other days marriage feels like a tender embrace that whispers, “You’re not alone anymore.” And then there are the days marriage feels like a display window as the innermost parts of my soul take center stage when I deal with fears, insecurities, and doubts.

At times marriage still feels like a strange phenomenon. I am no longer daydreaming about what my spouse will be like—I can reach out and touch his fingers and count his toes. I can choose between pinching myself and pinching him, and no matter which one of us I squeeze, he is still real (though getting the yelp out of him is usually more fun). Marriage has awakened my entire being to new experiences, encounters, and viewpoints. It has enlarged me as an individual.

However, for all the good that has been worked in and through me so far, don’t think for a moment that this mysterious holy union is simple or can be done well while catnapping—especially during those first few years when two people have to agree to make a small miracle happen: learn to live life together.

It doesn’t matter whether your courtship was a month, a year, or a decade. Somewhere during those first few years of marriage you’re going to be hit square between the eyes with the fact that there are things about your spouse that will never change. You can hope they change. You can pray they change. You can beg God to change them. Yet some things about your spouse were never meant to change. They were meant to be that way from the beginning, and they’re going to be that way until the very end. I’ve managed to sort through a lot of never-gonna-change attributes about my spouse. Can you relate to any of them?

Never Gonna Change No. 1: My spouse has morning breath. The only thing worse than the fact that my spouse has morning breath is that I have it too. And boy, is it bad! The crazy thing is that my husband is okay with his morning breath, and the even crazier thing is that he’s okay with mine too. I don’t understand it. Some days—especially if I’ve eaten a sugary treat the night before—I wake up with this taste of roadkill in my mouth. As I snuggle into my husband’s arms, I discover he was munching on the same dead animal while we were sleeping. Leif could lie there all morning quite content. As for me, I’m making a beeline for my faithful Triple-Action, Tartar-Fighting, Extra-Whitening, Ban-Bad-Breath-Forever tooth-paste.

Fortunately, I have a husband who loves me and gracefully embraces my hygiene neuroses and follows me to the bathroom. Afterward we nestle back in bed with a minty fresh cloud. As long as we are alive, I don’t think the whole morning breath issue will ever resolve itself beyond a bottle of Listerine. It may change a little when we get dentures and have to switch to Polident, but morning breath is something I’m never going to change about my husband or myself.

Never Gonna Change No. 2: My spouse is different from me. I never wanted to marry myself. I am not that narcissistic, but there have been more than a handful of times when I’ve thought to myself, If only he were a little bit more like me, this would be a whole lot easier. Instead, he is a whole lot like him. Imagine that! And I actually love him for it—whenever I’m not trying to convince him to change.

Never Gonna Change No. 3: My husband is a man. I’m grateful that my husband is male; don’t get me wrong. I never wanted to marry a woman or someone who had played switcharoo, but as a man, Leif likes manly things like video games, paintball, and those sweaty male-bonding activities that usually involve footballs, grunting noises, and ritualistic pats on the butt. Shopping and scrapbooking will never be high on his priority list, but that is what girlfriends are for!

Never Gonna Change No. 4: My husband snores. Surprises are part of married life. They just come with the territory. One of those little surprises—the fact that my husband snores—has proved to be a big issue in our marriage. I don’t know how this little snoring detail escaped me during the year we got to know each other before we were married, but the week after we were married, we stayed in a townhouse in Colorado. For whatever reason—attribute it to dry weather or postmarital bliss—Leif didn’t snore. The first night we arrived in our new homestead in Alaska, the snoring began and hasn’t stopped since.

We have tried just about everything. Maybe you have too. We tried having him sleep on his side or stomach, where he is less likely to snore. We tried having him wear Breathe Right strips to open his nasal passages. We tried the accompanying Breathe Right saline solution that you spray up the nose (which isn’t much fun). We tried sewing tennis balls in the back of a T-shirt so that every time he rolls over at night, he wakes himself up and returns to sleeping on his side. We even tried mentholated vaporizing creams.

All of these work from time to time. The problem is that none of them work consistently, and we are usually busy trying them all at the same time—never quite sure which will work.

When Leif is sick or exhausted, he steps in the ring with world-class snoring champions. And he can hold his own. I have tried wearing earplugs, which always fall out, and burying my head under multiple pillows, which tends to interfere with breathing. In the end I have discovered only one thing that works 100 percent of the time: Sleeping in the other room. That one act—sleeping apart from my spouse—is more painful than shooting saline up your taped nose while wearing tennis balls on your back and being buried under a stack of pillows. It is brutal.

I never imagined I would have to sleep apart from my spouse. In 30 years I could conceive that maybe we would have a big fight and end up in separate bedrooms for a night. I have seen that in the movies. I never thought that as blissful newlyweds my husband would be kissing me on the forehead and then going to sleep on the couch.
It has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that the snoring issue may never go away. This is something we are going to have to live with and overcome. We have done some practical things to make it a little easier. First, Leif and I always go to bed together and spend time snuggling before we make an attempt to go to sleep snore free. Before he falls asleep, we decide on which of the “strikes” he is out. Sometimes, he only gets one or two “strikes” of snoring, where I wake him up, and then he has to head to the couch. Sometimes, he gets a “three strikes and you’re out.” If I wake up three times, then he has to move. Occasionally, I will fall into a deep enough sleep where the snoring doesn’t bother me and we’ll make it through the night together. Even if we don’t, we make sure he crawls back in bed with me in the morning so we can spend those precious waking up moments together. Snoring may never go away, but we’re learning to work through it.

Never Gonna Change No. 5: My husband has different needs than me. I need to be loved, cared for, and nurtured. I need to be affirmed and hugged and kissed and told I’m beautiful. My husband, on the other hand, needs two things: dinner and sex. He needs love, affirmation, support, prayer, and everything else on my list, but his required portions are a lot smaller. I have to figure out how to love him in his love language rather than my own, and that’s not always easy.

Never Gonna Change No. 6: My husband has annoying habits. Leif is perfect, except for one thing: He has an annoying habit. Okay, maybe two. On a bad day, three. On a terrible day, he has, well, a lot of them. On the top of the list is my husband’s inability to keep track of time. He always has a dozen excuses why he doesn’t wear a watch, and invariably we are either late or stressed about being late. It drives me nuts some days. I can’t believe my husband’s annoying habits, at least until I look at a list of my own, and then I begin to wonder, How does he live with me?

One of the advantages of having things about your spouse that will never change is that we are given the opportunity to influence each other’s behavior in a way that is healthy and provides growth. My husband has taught me to be more laid-back, that it really is okay to eat pizza with lots of toppings every once in a while, and what it means to be observant. Meanwhile, he has learned a bit about embracing adventure. We have rubbed off on each other, and in the process we have both learned to let things go and discovered what is truly important. Together, we become more balanced individuals.

Leif has compiled his own “Never Gonna Change” list about me. Here are a few of his entries:

Never Gonna Change No. 1: My wife will always change her mind. Whether it is about dinner, what movie she wants to watch, or what is next on our agenda, the only thing you can expect is the unex- pected. Even though she says she wants something, that doesn’t mean she will want it in five minutes. As a guy it makes sense to me that when she says she needs to keep from eating high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, she means it. But every time I try to “help” her, she growls at me. Not that I am any better, of course. I manage to change my mind regarding any number of things, but my changes always make sense.

Never Gonna Change No. 2: The area around the bathroom sink is no longer mine. I knew she had a lot of stuff when we were dating, but since we were married the quantity has multiplied. I have a theory that hair products and lotions breed during the night to make as many different variations of themselves as possible. I don’t know exactly what all those tubes, vials, and powders do, but I certainly like the results. I have even started letting Margaret pluck my eyebrows, though I can confidently say that the plucking stops there.

Never Gonna Change No. 3: My wife will never understand computers. I operated under a cloud of blissful ignorance regarding her lack of knowledge when it came to technical gadgets until we got married. I watched Margaret use a computer to write and assumed she knew how to use it. Little did I know that her wisdom regarding food, health, and relationships didn’t translate well into keeping a computer running. Up until our first year of marriage, I had always wondered why I attended DeVry Institute of Technology. Now I think I’ve got it! I am supposed to use my technical knowledge so my wife doesn’t lose all of her life’s work by pressing the wrong button on the keyboard.

Never Gonna Change No. 4: Getting out of the shower and drying off has a different meaning for my wife. As long as she holds a towel around her for a nanosecond after stepping out of the shower, she believes she will be instantly dry. While quite attractive to look at, this becomes a problem when she jumps into bed and I get my second shower of the night. I know I probably need it, but I still think there would be better ways to communicate this to me.

Never Gonna Change No. 5: My wife is unable to drive down the road at a consistent speed. Instead of holding her foot steady on the gas pedal, she likes to lift it on and off at will. She slows down for fields, unusual rocks, sunsets, and just about anything else that catches her interest, which is a bit frustrating for everyone else behind her and most of all her passenger—which is usually me.

Never Gonna Change No. 6: This is just a hopeful never-gonna-change. I hope and pray my wife’s love and acceptance for me will not disappear as we get older, get used to each other, and struggle against taking each other for granted. I do have bad breath pretty much all day, don’t like to shower, and would rather play video games than go for a hike, but she chose to say “I do” anyway. So even though I wonder how mentally balanced she might be for vowing that, I am and eternally will be thankful to God for blessing me with such a wonderful friend, wife, and lover.

Questions for Reflection:

1. What things are never going to change about your spouse? What things are never going to change about you?

2. Which things were never meant to change?

3. Which items on your spouse’s “Never Gonna Change” list cause you to laugh?

4. In what ways will you learn to accept your spouse’s annoying habits without building resentment? (Will you learn to pick up his socks without comment?)

5. In what ways does your marriage give you the opportunity to become more well-rounded?

Excerpted from Just Married by Margaret Feinberg, Copyright 2006. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

Margaret Feinberg is an award–winning journalist, speaker, and writer. She is the author of Simple Acts of Faith, Simple Acts of Friendship, Twentysomething: Surviving & Thriving in the Real World, and God Whispers: Learning to Hear His Voice. She has also published countless articles in national magazines including Christianity Today, New Man, BookPage, and Christian Single. Margaret and her husband, Leif, live in Alaska.



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