Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Book Review: Everybody Fights

I know it feels like I'm the world's worst blogger as of late, and I kind of am. I'm kind of the world's worst everything lately, so I guess I'm excelling at that. I won't even tell you life is busy because it is for everyone, but I will say I'm really struggling to keep up with life. I feel like even when I take things off of my plate, it doesn't help- it just moves priorities around and I still feel like I'm a mess. When I think about what life would be like if I had no priorities, no responsibilities... even that stresses me out because I'll always feel like there's something I should be doing.  

It's really a no win and I need to find better ways to manage this. Clearly my lists and reminders aren't enough. 

Everybody Fights - Kim & Penn Holderness

My wife drives me crazy sometimes. My husband should already know what I need. Is our marriage in trouble if we fight all the time? Is it possible to learn how to fight?

For the last several years, Penn and Kim Holderness have done the hard maintenance and the research. With the help of their marriage coach Dr. Christopher Edmonston, they break down their biggest (and in some cases, funniest) fights. How did a question about chicken wings turn into a bra fight (no, not a bar fight; a bra fight)? How did a roll of toilet paper lead to tears, resentment, and a stint in the guest bedroom?

With their trademark sense of humor and complete vulnerability, Penn and Kim share their ten most common Fight Fails and how to combat them. Throughout the book, they offer scripts for how to start, continue, and wrap up hard conversations. Couples will emerge equipped to engage and understand, not do battle—and maybe laugh a little more along the way.

In Everybody Fights, couples will learn how to
  • conjure the magic of metacommunication
  • break free of secret contracts
  • banish the three Ds—distraction, denial, and delay
  • carry their own individual baggage while helping each other deal with theirs
Penn and Kim metacommunication want people to know they’re not alone. Marriage is messy. Marriage is work. But marriage is worth it. Fight for it. 
If you've been on Facebook anytime in the last couple of years, I guarantee that you have seen the Holderness Family and their hilarious music videos. Honestly, the ones made in the early days of the quarantine gave me life and I just remember one where he's rolling the garbage cans down the driveway and Kim is like, "garbage came last week" and the look on his face was all of us. To this day I cannot tell you if it's garbage week and I've stopped trying to figure it out. 

What's endearing though is that you can tell this couple love each other and get along really well, genuinely have fun with each other- but we all know that cameras turn off and doors close.... then what? I love that they have written this book because one of the things I'm most proud of is how hard Matt and I have worked at keeping our marriage going. I say it often, but we have LITERALLY tested each and every vow at least once. We've had bankruptcy, infidelity, miscarriage, unplanned babies, me dying, me being not well, discovering we have WILDLY different ideas on a lot of different things, and then a bunch of good times, too. Of all of the people we know who got married the same year we did, we are the only ones still going strong. Not to say we're some super couple, sticking together out of spite at this point, but we have worked so hard at making it work. I tell people all of the time that absolutely nobody realizes going in that marriage is harder than anything. It's harder than parenting, and we're in the middle of doing that times 4, marriage is by far harder. You know why? 

Because someday the kids will move out (hopefully) and then it'll just be Matt and I. We don't want to get there only to realize we don't even like each other anymore. 

If you are at all married, wanting to be married, might be getting married, struggling in a marriage, divorced and wondering what's wrong with you, etc.- you need this book. Reading this book is like sitting with the best marriage counselor you can find. No, it's like watching people you know end up on a daytime psychiatrist show and knowing what they need to do but still watching it to the end to validate you were, after all, right. I always know what other people should do but when it comes to me... it's a mystery. 

One of the BEST pieces I got from the book, that I know is my worst fault: "..when you're trapped in a fight, you can't bounce around all over the place trying to find a way out. We had moved on too quickly to the next issue before we had the first one resolved." This was early in the book and it was after they argued over chicken. Well, actually a bra. No, she was cooking chicken, she took her bra off, he was having a bad day, he was sick of chicken and said let's go out, and she's like, "no- my bra is off" and from there it went down to "you never help", "but I did what you asked", "why did I have to ask, you're so selfish", etc. 

I know for a damn fact Matt and I have this argument at least once a month. 

Other sections that really hit home? The one about snuggling.... I'm not a big snuggler. I think I used to be and that's what gave Matt the impression that hey, "this girl likes to the cuddle and hug!", but since dying and such? Yeah.... stop touching me. I don't like hugs that drag out, not even from my kids. If I want to snuggle, I'll initiate it but good god GET OFF OF ME. 

We're still working through that. 

Also? The chapter on money. I think the face that Matt and I have been together since the beginning of our 20's makes us a bit different. We were never really financially set on our own, and never really figured out responsibility and future planning on our own, so trying to learn all of that WITH someone at their pace? 

It's been..... a challenge. 

Some years he's our super saver and financially fiscal person. Some years he falls off the wagon and it's me, the chronic spender trying to guide the ship and that's no good. Getting on the same track at the same time has been really hard, even more so now that he's the only one working and the money dynamic is different. I feel like money is so hard because it's the easiest thing to turn into a weapon. 

I could go on and on about this book, but I'll end it with I love their suggestion of being your partner's publicist. I know people get annoyed with the "my husband is amazing" posts but you know what? I love them. I don't look at it as making it look like our lives our so great, it tells me your husband did something pretty cool and that you want others to admire him for it. Maybe it doesn't have to be a public thing, sometimes just a note in his lunchbox that says, "I'm thankful you work so hard for our family. I love you for that." is enough. We are not telling each other the things we like or appreciate about them and it does amazing things. One compliment can turn someone else's entire attitude around. 

A huge, HUGE thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy for review. This is maybe one of the best books on marriage I've read, it's a fast read and easy to get through but also apply to your own relationships. 

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