Review: JUST MARRIED
The question you might ask is, "why is he reading a marriage book for young couples when he's not that young and they've just celebrated their fourteenth anniversary?" My answer would be that it's because I can: that this book came in the mail as our anniversary was approaching, and who can resist the ironic twist of reading a newlywed book after fourteen years of wedded bliss?
In Just Married (copyright 2005, by Margaret Feinberg; Harvest House Publishers), I found that fourteen years of marriage isn't that much unlike the first couple of years together. We are still learning, still coping, still enjoying, still going through many of the same ups and downs as newlyweds. Maybe that's what makes marriage something wonderful to watch being "done well" - each person still falling in love, still discovering new things about the other. As I read of Margaret's journey with her husband Leif, I remembered fondly our early years without kids: finding out which brand of peanut butter we'd buy (Peter Pan or some lesser brand?), where we'd store the ketchup (fridge or pantry?), our first house/mortgage, buying cars, toothpaste tubes. Life takes a few twists and turns those first years of marriage.
Maybe home ownership and a fruit salad [wonderful example of "differences" she and her husband discovered after getting married] aren't that far apart after all. If we can learn to work through our little differences, then who says we can't use those same skills to work through the big ones? The fact is that it's in the little things that we learn how to resolve conflict, compromise, and gain a deeper understanding into each other's values and beliefs. Events like the Fruit Bowl Incident give us the opportunity to grow, so that when the Suddenly Laid Off Incident or the Won the Lottery Incident happen, we can handle ourselves a little better. (p. 29)Dealing with where we're different, where we're attracted to each other, where conflict will come, how to deal with being apart and being together - I think Margaret's written a book that is fun to read and enlightening for more than just newlyweds.
There are chapters on finances, in-laws, sex, bumps in the road for him and for her, and all of these "work" because of her writing style first (it's just a very poetic prose, something I've enjoyed reading in various works the past few years), but it's also because of her use of personal stories intermixed with interviews from other newlyweds and folks like us who've been married over a decade. The sidebar extras and the "surprises" that are interspresed through the text ("Surprise No. 23 - My husband will never be able to read my mind" - p. 128) add a layer of fun and interaction, too. And the reader finds a camaraderie with Margaret and Leif in the practical things of life together, and then also find spiritual matters that matter in marriage - and this is what stood out to me, that this book didn't feel hokey on matters of faith. She deals with them in the same straight forward manner as the other issues, recognizing early on that her growth and transformation from dating single to married spouse is as much about the spiritual as it is about who's leaving the toilet seat down or not. Her approach to the "secular" has a much more "sacred" bent, so that all of life is about becoming who we are in Christ, and I think that's why I like reading her stuff.
One caveat: I'm looking forward to the tenth anniversary of this book, when hopefully Margaret will write Just Married After Ten Years - because I think she'll be surprised what's changed and what's stayed the same. Either way, I've appreciated this glimpse into their journey as it's just starting out.