"I am a fool! What was I thinking when I agreed to marry you?"
"Right back at ya, Danica. I had no idea you were such a spendthrift. At this rate, we'll be filing for bankruptcy by Thanksgiving."
Phil Becker could feel that throbbing vein in his forehead, his taletell anger sign. Friends warned him after a few months of marital bliss, the very things that drew him to Danica would suddenly drive him crazy. He first fell for her style, always dressed to the nines and took her appearance seriously. He had no idea her style came by way of high end constant shopping.
"You always exaggerate when it comes to my purchases. My boots were at least on sale. How about the Wii system you just had to buy because your boss has one?"
Phil noticed her green eyes had fleck of mad yellow sparking his direction.
"Of course it is. I know, you're the master of the house. You run it all. Blah. Blah. Bleh. I'm out."
He realized even in her very best clothes she came off pretty ugly when sarcastic. He watched her grab her purse, sending pulses through his chest. No more shopping already.
"Where you going?"
Their wedding picture shook inside the china case as Danica slammed the door. Phil sighed and looked around. Things were so quiet and empty when he was alone, especially after a fight. It was too quiet, maybe a visit to big brother Rob would help take his mind off their financial woes.
Danica busted open her parent's front door with a huff. She startled her dad's Golden Retriever, Toby, who ran at her and jumped on her new cashmere sweater.
"Oh Toby, get down you horse!"
The kitchen door swung open, revealing Danica's mom with a steaming casserole.
"Oh Danica, you scared me. I didn't know you and Phil were coming over. I, um, well I just made enough for your father and me. I suppose I could check the shelves"
"Mother, I'm staying here tonight. Phil has no concept of marriage, at least not a real one. I made such a huge mistake, he is on me all the time. I know I didn't bring anything but I'll go to my old room and see if I have some old clothes I can throw on for the night."
Danica rushed her words, heading for the stairs. She didn't notice her mom put the casserole down and just stared at her. Danica was up the stairs and to her room.
"Mom! What is this?"
Danica's voice boomed through the upstairs and filtered back to the dining room. Her mother just sighed. It was going to be an interesting evening.
Phil knocked on his brother's door. He heard little footsteps running to the door.
"Courtney! Where's daddy?"
Phil nodded and let himself in. Rob always beat Claire home from work by an hour, so he picked up the kids from day care and started on dinner. Phil could smell burned broccoli. He walked over to the stove top and saw the pan needed water.
"Hey bro, what brings you by? Where's Danica?"
Rob snuck up behind him. Phil kicked at a rogue marble.
"Not with me."
"Trouble in paradise?"
"Paradise ended after the honeymoon. Now the bills are coming in and Danica has no concept of a budget. I've worked the numbers the best I can and I'm seeing red, and not just because I'm ticked."
Rob let out a slow whistle.
"Sorry bro, that stinks. The first year is the hardest. It gets better."
Phil looked at the burned broccoli and heard pre school music blaring.
"Sure about that?"
"You'll see. You both have to give 100-100. You have to pray, not for her to change, but for you. Trust me, it works wonders. I wasted five years asking God to change Claire."
Phil nodded, glad for the input. He definitely would have prayed the change Danica prayer.
"This is one of those times I'm glad you're the older brother. Thanks for letting me vent."
"Just go home and pray. It'll work out."
Danica looked at what used to be her bedroom. Exercise equipment was everywhere. It looked like the YMCA. She turned and saw her mom at the door not looking very apologetic.
"Mother, what is going on here?"
"Sweetheart, you have a home now. With Phil. This is our new exercise room. Your father and I have waited years for this. Do you like it?"
Danica stomped her new boots on the Berber forest green carpet. It didn't make much of an impact, but she had no words to express her frustration.
"Not really. Mother, I need a place to stay tonight."
"You have one."
"Where, the couch? "
"No dear, your home with Phil. I love you, but I'm going to give you the same advice your grandmother gave me after our first big fight. Just cleave already."
Danica looked at her mom like she was speaking a foreign language.
"I have no idea what you just said."
"Because you're thinking of yourself. You probably heard this during counseling and I certainly remember it during the wedding. You two are one with the Lord. The day you said 'I do", you cut the strings with your parents. I've seen too many friends be the third party to their children's marriage. I won't allow it. It's the best thing your father and I could do for you two."
Danica slowly inhaled, wanting so much to pout, but the words rang true. She remembered them from their pastor. She giggled.
"I have to go back and eat crow, don't I?"
"I have a feeling Phil will welcome you with open arms."
Phil heard the garage door open. He got off the couch and walked towards the mud room. The door barely cracked open when Danica flew in his arms. They spoke at the same time.
"For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24
Julie Arduini, http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/, is devoted to writing for Christ in ways that encourage and inspire. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, her writing resume is on her blog's sidebar. Happily married to Tom, they have two children.