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The Heart of the Fight: A Couple's Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer Paperback – February 2, 2016
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About the Author
Judith Wright, EdD, is a world-renowned couples and lifestyles coach, media favorite, inspirational speaker, lifestyles expert, professor, and corporate consultant. She is the award-winning coauthor of Transformed! and the best-selling author of There Must Be More Than This and The Soft Addiction Solution. Wright has appeared on 20/20, Oprah, Good Morning America, and Today; and in over 600 print and radio interviews, including the New York Post, Boston Herald, and San Francisco Chronicle. Wright is cofounder of the dynamic and innovative couples program at the Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, where she is also professor of transformational coaching.
Bob Wright, EdD, is an internationally recognized visionary, speaker, educator, consultant, coach, professor, and best-selling author. He cofounded the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential to teach people to develop their vision and fulfill their dreams. Coauthor of the award-winning book Transformed! and several other books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies globally, Wright is recognized as a top coach by Crain’s Business and has helped thousands of people across the country transform their careers, relationships, and lives. Wright is cofounder of the couples program at the Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, where he is also professor of transformational leadership.
Judith and Bob bring not only significant academic and research background to the couples skills they teach, but also real-world experience from a thriving and dynamic marriage. It’s not uncommon for the Wrights to be mistaken for newlyweds—even after thirty-plus years of marriage. They model a truth-telling, no-holds-barred, intimate relationship for all the couples they lead, teach, and train.
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I've made 2016 all about reading books that I normally wouldn't read. Before this year, I hadn't picked up a relationship book since 2003, when I was 18 years old and believed there was a lot wrong with me, based on what my then-boyfriend (future ex-husband) said to me on a daily basis. It was a very popular book back then, and still is. It left me even more confused. I swore off those kinds of books and never picked another one up... until this year.
I've read a handful of relationship books this year, not because I believe my marriage needs help, not because something is wrong with my husband Sean and I, and not because I feel lost. I'm reading them because I am genuinely curious as to what they say, and because while Sean and I have a beautiful marriage, we both believe we can always improve. We've encountered advice that is contradictory; advice that makes us cringe; advice that we've taken; a ton of exercises, and a few rare gems that are absolutely astonishing books.
The Heart of the Fight is one of those books. When I read books like this, I read the and discuss it with Sean as I go and then after I finish. We answer all the questions and do all of the exercises together. We've had a lot of fun doing them and have even learned a thing or two about each other. After awhile, though, the exercises tend to blend together and the relationship questions sound the same. Out of all of the books I've read, only four of them stand out as truly sensational, and The Heart of the Fight is one of the four.
I immediately related to Judith and Bob. They are what the world would call a "real couple". They fight and make up; hurt each other and help each other. They would go to the ends of the earth for each other but have some big fights. Right away, I saw Sean and myself in them and was very comfortable reading advice, stories and ideas that they have because of how honest they are. The introduction gave me a sense of ease that this was not just another relationship book and that the Wright's know what they're talking about because they've been there - they are all of us when we fight with the person we love most.
The Heart of the Fight is not your run of the mill relationship advice book. A lot of what you will read will go against everything we're taught about how to fight, how to act and how to play our part in a relationship. The Wright's don't pull any chains - they're honest. We're going to hurt each other, we will say things we don't mean, we'll act like jerks and we'll regret things we say and do. They don't just leave the reader hanging. They don't recommend the usual "do this or say that". They tell you how to fight effectively and productively, and how to learn and grow from those fights - both as an individual and as couple. You'll see why it's important to be you while you are a part of a relationship.
There is advice and ideas about how to deal with several different types of fights. This book gets really, really deep, to the root cause of things. Your past does matter more than a lot of people realize. Many people don't want to talk about their pasts, but the Wright's tell you why keeping it in is a bad idea. With me, it was not my childhood. I had an amazing childhood with parents who couldn't have been better. Today, because of how I was raised, they are my best friends but still my parents first. My past came with my first marriage, and I carried it with me. I blamed Sean for a lot of what happened before he was in my life, but we fought through it together so I could heal and let go. Before I read this book, I knew what I was doing, and finally admitted it to Sean. I was terrified he'd be insulted and furious, but instead I was met with a lot of love and understanding, and we healed together. The Heart of the Fight tells you how to do just that - how you can be open about your past, heal it and grow together from it. That can seem impossible, but with this method, the impossible becomes possible.
Sean has his own set of pain that we are working on together. While we've both made huge amounts of progress, we're taking what The Heart of the Fight said seriously and implementing it into our lives to continue to grow together. We've come a long way from years ago, when our fights were very painful and explosive - and not in a good way. When I went into reading this book, I didn't think I'd recognize as much as I did, but I did see two fight types that we identify with. I pointed it out to Sean, and he said, "huh. Okay, so what does it say? What can we do about that?" We're taking the techniques and using them long term. A great thing about this method is that even if your partner isn't on board with doing it with you, you can do it alone and still make great progress.
Sean and I are both Alphas, and we're together 24/7. It started with me quitting work and school to be home with him after he got hurt in Iraq. While Sean may think I'm a Superhero, I can't be in two places at once and being with him as he got better was my first priority, so it wasn't really a choice to stay home with him. I happily did it, and while it was trying, it brought us closer. Today he doesn't need me 24/7, although I do need to be home frequently. I found ways to do everything from home because we just love being together. I have the option of having a job away from home now, but we prefer it like this. We have our alone time while we're still together, have hobbies that the other isn't involved in and always have something to talk about at the end of the day. Even though we're right next to each other, we save it for the end of the day. The Heart of the Fight talks at length about being your own person, your best self. Somehow, Sean and I have been managing to do that while being together constantly. This book has ideas and advice about being your best self that neither of us thought of that we're going to start doing.
Like every other couple, Sean and I fight. It's gotten so much better over the years, but it still happens. Neither of us like it, but our style has changed as we've grown. Getting married even changed our fighting style. No matter what people say, marriage does change you and your relationship. You can't just go running out the door, never to return. You can't just pack up your stuff and go to your mom's while you look for a new place. You really are in it together now, more so than you ever were. Your fighting style may change after you get married to a different type of fight. No matter which type it is, The Heart of the Fight will help with understanding why that happens and how to effectively handle it. Don't worry, even the dreaded 'money fight' is covered here.
Sean and I will both admit that we want to throw each other off the balcony into a snow bank at times. But, we both always say that if we ever did that, we'd beat the other one to the bottom and catch them before they landed. We have a "rule" that is a joke now: neither of us can ever permanently leave, because we'd have to take the other with us. That came from my fear of being abandoned. I developed that in my first marriage and in the beginning, when Sean and I would fight, I would go into panic mode if he left the room. He'd go to the bathroom and in my head, he was never coming back. He was leaving me. No, the poor guy just had to use the bathroom. The Heart of the Fight talks about why people have reactions like that and how to fix them.
There are stories of people that the Wright's have met and helped over the years. They come from all walks of life and have very different stories. The one thing they all have in common is they've done the methods laid out in this book, and they've been successful. Some are married, some aren't. They're various ages, some are parents, some have very bad pasts, others have great pasts. Despite all of the differences, each of the stories are things we all can relate to, and are real world examples. You won't read that John and Jane did this thing one time and suddenly it was glorious. What you will read is how these couples, including the Wright's, decided that they were going to do this method and gave it their all. You'll read about how they succeeded and what they had to go through to get there.
There is a stigma today that fighting is a huge no-no in a relationship. The common belief is that if you fight, you are done for. You don't belong together, there is no hope, you might as well cut your losses and run. After all, you won't fight with your soul mate. It would be rainbows and butterflies all the time, you'd always agree and you would never hurt each other. There is even that saying that is now a meme that says a real man will never make a woman cry.
The Wright's tell you why all of that is a bunch of hot air. They explain why fighting is actually healthy and how, if done right, it can enhance your relationship. They tell you how to effectively fight and they're honest about it. Just because you fight doesn't mean you are doomed. You can be with the perfect person for you and still argue. It doesn't spell disaster -it means something different, which they lay out beautifully. Oh, and that real men won't make a woman cry thing? The Wright's will tell you why beliefs like that can be dangerous for a relationship - for yourself and your partner. The truth is, you are going to cry at some point from a fight. That doesn't make the man you are with any less of a man. The reasons why make perfect sense, something I've always suspected but never had any real proof of, until now. Sean's made me cry in the past. That doesn't make him any less of a man or a bad husband. I received a sincere apology, the effort to not say those things again, and a whole of of love. We talked it out, I forgave him, and we moved on. Nothing was ever hung over his head - done is done. The Wright's talk about why done really should be done and the power of a sincere apology.
You will get back to basics as you go through The Heart of the Fight. The basics of relationships, the basics of who you are, the basics of who your partner is. You'll start at the beginning and learn just how important yearnings are and why we all need to know what our personal yearnings mean for us, our relationships and our partners. The Wright's tell you why the usual relationship advice doesn't work and even give proof of it not working. You will examine yourself at the deepest levels, from your fears to your joys and everything in between. If you don't know where to start but have been wanting to dig deeper, rest assured that it is all laid out here for you and it's very easy to follow.
If you are fighting a lot with your partner, this book is for you. You'll find help, real world advice, and no sugarcoating. You'll get honesty, a well laid out plan and a new way of thinking from The Heart of the Fight. If you don't fight a lot but when you do, a lot of damage is done, you may benefit from this book. Are you single and wondering why it didn't work out, why you always have the same fights but with different people, or why you just don't mesh with anyone? Give The Heart of the Fight a try. You could be someone who has sworn off relationships, vowing to be alone forever because the fighting and the hurt is just too much. Check out this book, there is a lot to be taken away from it.
This is one of those rare books that isn't just for one group of people. While it is a relationship book, I believe that nearly everyone can benefit from it and have a great take away. Sean and I certainly did. This is a book that I'd recommend to everyone, regardless of their situation - a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. When you buy this book, it is more of an investment. You'll be investing in yourself, in your partner (if you have one) and in your future.
In The Heart of the Fight, Wright and Wright outline 15 different types of fights common in marriages. Rather than encouraging readers to find ways to not fight about these issues or persuading the wife to submit to her husband as the leader of the home,the authors encourage readers to look for the "why" behind the issues causing their disagreements in order to focus on making the relationship better. In doing so they encourage readers to develop "six skills for battling to bliss." These skills are then used to discover what you really "yearn" to have and how to "engage" in a fair and living fight. As licensed marriage and family therapists, the authors back up their ideas not only with leading research in the field but also provide real life examples from couples in their practice. This combination of research AND practical examples results in ideas that can actually be implemented.
The Heart of the Fight is highly recommended for numerous audiences. It is written directly to couples and will work best when a couple chooses to read the book together and utilize the suggested techniques. However, marriage and family therapists and other counselors will find this a useful resource for their own shelves as well to utilize with couples and to use as an idea source book. My one disappointment with the book was the seemingly gratuitous use of some foul language. This seemed to be included to illustrate "real life" examples between couples but seemed unnecessary in a professional book. Overlooking the poor choice of words, this book is an excellent choice to add to your bookshelf. For this title a printed copy is recommended as readers will find themselves wishing to flip back to an earlier page or to consult a list of questions or suggestions. The e-copy did not lend itself easily to that usage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and New Harbinger Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”