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This book allows people to see what a good therapist might be thinking while working with a fighting couple (don't you always wonder what the therapist is really thinking?), AND to see what the couple themselves are thinking.
An important aspect of the book is giving people the benefit of the doubt... but also turning an honestly critical eye on oneself as well as others.
It's not a book that claims "If someone says X, she *REALLY* means ....". The tone is far less judgmental than that. In fact, Wile takes care to point out that he doesn't have one right answer or one right interpretation of what goes on during the night in the life of this couple. He makes clear that he, as a therapist, is a human being like anyone else and is subject to the same foibles as the couple illustrated here. We all are. He simply has acquired some pretty good insights about how these things work. (He's a Ph.D. psychologist in private practice, or was at the time of publication of this book anyway.)
Wile focuses (among other things) on people's need to get their points across. Reading this book makes the reader feel understood, and then helps the reader see what the other person in a fight might need to get across. It's the kind of book that makes you want to turn around and give it to significant others in your life after you've finished reading it yourself and saying, "Yeah! That's it!" every other page. I think it helps people slow down, take a step back, and be less defensive (without even knowing it, as Wile points out) in dealings with other people.
The book is an extended, in-depth analysis of one single fight in one couple. This focus is a great way for us to see the practical realities of what Wile is talking about -- as opposed to glib principles, which many books offer alone.
If you're not already familiar with psychological lingo, don't let some of the terminology in the introduction put you off. The book as a whole is extremely understandable, real, and useful. It's one of those books you wish everyone would read, but, unlike many popular self-help or psychology books, it's not a flash in the pan. If you can read this and take it to heart it can make a lasting difference in how you do things. Not a quick fix, but a serious improvement.
I suppose if there's anything I don't like about it it's some of the lingo (which is well explained) and that it's a bit repetitive -- but that's easy to deal with because the format of the book is such that it becomes easy to identify and just skim some sections at the end which pretty much repeat things already covered (if you want to).
I do strongly recommend this book. And not just for couples with major fighting problems. For anyone -- we all have quibbles. Whether you have quibbles (or major fights) with your spouse, your friend, your coworker, your parent, your child, or your therapist, this book could be enlightening.After the Fight: Using Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relationship Overview
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