This will be my first book review regarding a Non-Fiction book. Not only that, but a non-fiction book that can be considered a self-help book. Well technically, it’s categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Love and Marriage.
I read this book because I am part of Dave Ramsey’s Book Club and this was the book for February 2018. This book teaches you how conflict can bring you and your partner closer. This book is about 184 pages long and all of it informative. I’ve written some of the basic information and how they have related to me.
This is a book I recommend everyone to read. EVERYONE! Whether you get anything out of it or not, it will plant a seed in your mind about fighting. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, it provides great insight on yourself and others. I found ways to utilize some of these methods to use on co-workers. It’s a great read.
Dr Les and Dr Leslie Parrot have concluded that a good fight has four elements:
The Benefits of A Good Fight
Authenticity: A Good Fight Keeps Us Real
“Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse, as to confront you with yourself.”
“We bear witness to nearly everything the other says or does. We begin seeing, in both the other and ourselves, our behaviors, attitudes, and motivations like never before. We give and receive feedback, invited or not, that can rub us the wrong way.”
“Authenticity occurs when our thoughts, words, feelings and actions come into alignment.”
I cannot speak on this as a married person (since I am not married). The closest thing I have come to this (besides family drama) is when I travel with friends. Being together with someone for longer than my typical 2-4 hour hangouts can cause a lot of tension (especially when the both of you enjoy free time alone). I remember cranky arguments that could have been avoided altogether if we were both willing to talk about what was really bothering us. Instead, we hid it from each other and it came out eventually one way or another.
Luckily, being willing to forgive each other for our differences allowed us to make up rather quickly and have the argument we were trying not to have.
Clarity: A Good Fight Sheds Light
“A good fight is often like a searchlight that zeroes in on an issue that has been quietly lurking around the landscape of our relationship. Once we discover that issue–often through the illuminating blaze of a good fight–we’re able to see it and define it, which puts us in a position to do something about it.”
I once had a friend ask me “why do you think you’re better than everyone else?” She didn’t mean it as in that I literally thought I was better than everyone else, but rather, that I am incapable of being nice to myself. That I have this need for perfection. Chasing perfection is chasing an impossibility, therefore, by thinking I can be perfect, makes me “better than everyone else.” I didn’t realize perfectionism was a problem until she broke it down to me. “Your perfectionistic tendencies is ruining your ability to enjoy life.”
For the longest, I felt like having fun was child’s play. “If you were having fun, you weren’t hard enough. In order to get anywhere in life, you have to work hard.” There’s no time for playing. That was my mentality. Build your house with bricks mentality. Why? Because I desperately needed security. And being perfect meant safety. Because if I wasn’t making mistakes, I couldn’t get in trouble. If I didn’t get in trouble, you’d like me more. But my perfectionism got in the way of all my relationships. I was unable to forgive myself for even the slightest of mistakes. Consequently, I would feel like how could they ever forgive me and leave before they even had a choice.
It wasn’t until after that conversation that I started really opening up to people. That I gave people the opportunity to make their own decisions based on our relationship. Most importantly, I allowed myself the opportunity to be real. Not a facade of the perfect person I feel I should be.
Fresh Start: A Good Fight Clears The Air
“The Pollutants of emotional tension, bitterness, stress, strain, woundedness, bad feelings, pressure, animosity, resentments, and walking on eggshells can choke loving feelings right out of the relationship. Collectively, these irritants become a kind of smog that shrouds your marriage in a malaise of discontent.”
I have done my share of resentments and I can attest to it ruining my relationships. One of my biggest resentments was when my best friend started dating and stopped talking to me as much. I remember being upset and not knowing how to talk about it and started being mean to her instead whenever she did reach out. It was…uncalled for. But as a teenager, I didn’t have the tools or emotional intelligence to understand that I was missing my best friend. And as a teenager with hormones, she didn’t have the light of knowing that I was affected by her disappearance (I have abandonment issues).
Eventually, after some much-needed distance, we had an honest conversation about what sparks the change and we both came to an agreement that, no matter what, we will always make time for each other. She lives in a different state now, and we don’t talk like we used to, but because of that agreement, I don’t feel remotely deserted. I know that she will always be there for me, and I, her.
Security: A Good Fight Makes You Stronger
“An African proverb says, ‘Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.’ It takes a little turmoil to spur any of us to become really good at something–including our relationship. As we weather tough times together and come out on the other side, we build trust and confidence in our relationship. We find security.
This sounds counterintuitive, but a good fight, as opposed to a bad one, actually makes a couple’s relationship more solid. it empowers us. We begin to realize we don’t have to be afraid of troubles and tension. We can work it out. We’re strong. With new confidence, we say to ourselves, Our love can stand up when it gets knocked around.”
Reason’s We Fight
According to the book, there are 2 bases for fighting: perceived threat, and perceived neglect. We feel threatened when we perceive someone being critical, judgemental, controlling, demanding or attacking. We feel neglected when we perceive someone being uncaring, uncommitted, neglectful, selfish or disengaged. At work, I feel more threatened, whereas, in my personal relationships, I feel more neglected. The former made total sense when I first read it. However, it was illuminating to read that neglect is more than just not being there. It can also be, not being on the same page. The author shared a story where he said he felt abandoned by his wife when she shut down from a conversation they were having (she shut down because she was feeling threatened by his comment, even though his comment had nothing to do with her parenting skills, but rather his own baggage).
The Cutest Story Ever
That might be an exaggeration but, it made my heart happy. The story goes that a man by the name of Johnny Lingo lived in the South Pacific. he wanted to marry one of the Islanders but, according to Islander customs, he would have to present the father with a cow. The highest price was typically four to six cows. He fancied a timid, skinny, plain, shy girl. The girl was worth very few cows. However, Johhny decided to give her father ten cows. That is more than the highest price! This transformed the girl into a confident woman. His reasoning was “I wanted a ten-cow woman, and when I paid that for her and treated her in that fashion, she began to believe that she was a ten-cow woman. She discovered she was worth more than any other woman in the islands. What matters most is what a woman thinks about herself.”
(I just did a quick Google search to see if Johnny Lingo was a real person, it turns out that it’s a short film produced by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints..and that in the movie, he actually gave 8 cows. Either way, being treated as more than the highest price makes my inner romantic happy)
Rules for Fighting
The book mentions a few rules for fighting (which I will elaborate more on shortly) but it set an example of a couple who decided to have a discussion, on stage, with a live audience, about a real-life issue just so the audience can see a healthy versus unhealthy way to fight. They had the audience act as buzzers in case one of them broke a rule. The rules they set were: have open body posture (I never considered this to affect how I argue, until reading this), stay clear of blaming each other or trying to show the other person is wrong (this is how trainwrecks happen), lean in while talking (interesting), repeat back what they heard the other person saying before making a new point (I actually heard a therapist say this is useful, because oftentimes, we translate something very different than what was actually said), stay on topic and maintain eye contact. But of course, this couple has been doing that for years…it will feel very awkward when you first try it. I can’t even imagine a time where I had a discussion where I leaned in. A conversation, yes. An uncomfortable discussion….never. Quite the opposite, I want to run away. Or change the subject. Or roll my eyes and blame them. I get why they set these guidelines.
So the rules the authors suggested is to: share withholds (information you are withholding from your partner because you either didn’t have time, are afraid of confronting them or got distracted. It can be positive or negative. They suggest to write two things that you like that your partner did, then write only one thing that they’ve done that has irritated you. Make it a weekly habit to share) rate the depth of your disagreement (one person might find the issue extremely important while the other might not even register it as a problem. This will cause a change in cooperation and lead to tension), agree to disagree when necessary (you won’t always agree and maybe, sometimes, you can use your differences to your advantages in compromising for a more effective solution), apologize when you mean it (half-ass apologies are insulting, and not meaning it doesn’t lead to change in behaviors), practice the XYZ formula (it’s basically a formula they created to get your message accross. X stands for “In Situation”, Y stands for “When you do” and Z stands for “I Feel”. So one that I’ve used with my friends is: when we go out to eat, and you are on your phone, I feel like our time together isn’t as meaningful and that you’d rather do something else.) don’t be cruel, take a time-out if needed (taking a break will cause you to relax and not act on instinct and hurt), read your partner’s mind (They have a good exercise mentioned), and send up a prayer. They created these rules with the CORE attributes in mind. The book goes into further explanation, examples, and details on how to follow each rule.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when they had us identify our fighting method. There are 4 possible fighters: competitive fighter, collaborate fighter, cautious fighter, and conciliatory fighter. They define all 4 and why you are that kind of fighter. They then go into detail on how to understand your partner and his/her fighting personality. What more you need to bring to the table if your partner is, let’s say, a collaborate fighter. It’s really neat! I won’t go too much into this because this is really something you have to read on your own to fully understand your methods and why they work for you. But I will say this, based on my own personal experience, I almost cried when they wrote what my personality type wants out of my relationships (because it was 100% true!). The book also talks about how you and your partner can help each other heal based on the deeper rooted issues of why we fight. It also tackles a chapter on anger.
Seriously, if you’ve enjoyed my blog post so far, you will love the book even more. If you buy the actual book, they have a code so you can get the app which is supposed to help you and your partner with certain tools. I didn’t download it since I’m not married and don’t have a partner to test it out with. They also have a page of reflections after each chapter, just to keep you thinking about what you’ve learned in each chapter.
Contempt is so lethal to love that it ought to be outlawed.
“Contempt is any belittling remark that makes your spouse feel about an inch time.”
I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.
Marriage is the closest bond possible between two people. Legally, socially, emotionally, and physically, there is no other means of getting closer to another human being. It is the desire for this extraordinary closeness that propels us into matrimony. we long to belong to another person who knows us and loves us like nobody else in the world. This kind of imtimacy is the rocket fuel of marriage. Without intimacy, life becomes horribly cold and lonely. So we plunge ourselves into marriage and give our heart in exchange for the heart of another to discover the deepest and most radical experssion of human connection possible.
When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
Our life is what our thoughts make it.
The tone of our truth-telling can build a wall or a bridge.
“That’s not why I pray, Harry,” Lewis responded. “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
Loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.
Money doesn’t talk, it swears obscenity.
According to Hendrix, intesne and recurring arguments are a good indcator that one or both partners have unresolved childhood pain such as abandonment, rejection, smothering, shame, or helpnessness.
Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.
When you’re not aware of how the pain from your childhood gets replayed and exacerbated in conflicts as a married adult, those childhood scenarios inevitably repeat themselves with the same devastating consequences. The trauma you experienced gets reignited, whether it’s your fear of abandonment, rejection, shame, helplessness, or whatever. Heated conflict ensues, and you resort to defensive childish tactics. But once you face facts and recognize how these early unment needs play into your current relationship, you start to grow. You mature. “It’s crucual to accept the hard truth that incompatibility is the norm for relationships,” says Harville Hendrix. “Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, to heal by stretching out of its defenses.”
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusions that it has taken place.
-George Bernard Shaw
Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25440140-the-good-fight