The book The Argument-Free Marriage, ironically enough, resulted in an argument between my husband and me. As was the case with the book Think, Learn, Succeed, Jared read a book which he loved, and he recommended it to me. However, I was underwhelmed by Fawn Weaver’s book, and when Jared and I tried to persuade each other to our opinions, our efforts resulted in a passionate argument. We just see the world so differently sometimes.
The Argument-Free Marriage claims that couples can have marriages completely devoid of arguments. Fawn Weaver, founder of the online group, The Happy Wives Club, provides a recipe for a happy marriage that combines semantic games with unrealistic rules, common marriage advice, and a suck-it-up attitude.
Weaver’s definition of “arguments” allows her a lot more room to argue for an argument free marriage. Discussions and disagreements are allowable, according to her. She doesn’t expect people to always agree with their spouses. In an argument, however, anger, frustration, and tension are inherent. An argument free marriage then, is apparently one in which disagreements can be had, but should not contain any anger or negativity.
I disagree fundamentally with that idea. We all feel emotions, not all of them positive, and not all of them under our control. What we do with those emotions is under our control, but people get angry with other people. It’s human. Trying to suppress or deny these emotions is a recipe for emotional disaster, not a successful marriage.
Weaver gives rules for avoiding arguments, many of which seem unrealistic and even foolish. She advises never addressing issues while angry or emotionally heated. If anger is present, she says, take a break for as long as necessary. She mentions her own practice of taking a walk for several hours in order to abide by this rule.
Such rules sound difficult to live by. Again, I would also point to the human-ness of emotions, even negative ones. I don’t agree that they can be removed from all discussions with our spouses, or in any relationships. How we act when we experience those emotions is another matter entirely.
Weaver’s “suck-it-up”, “grin-and-bear-it” attitude is another problematic aspect. Her mentality is that when things are hard, couples should just muscle through the problems. Spouses should just swallow their frustration with certain differences and difficulties and move forward.
I hope that marriage is more than that. I believe in bringing problems out in the open to work through. I believe in facing our differences and always working to do better–to love each other better, to communicate better, to consider each other more. Serious conflicts and major issues shouldn’t be pushed under the rug.
Whatever good things Weaver has to say (I’ll admit, there are some), are largely unoriginal. Most of her helpful ideas are things I’ve heard often enough from the pulpit, from older married couples, or in other marriage books. The most helpful chapter is the one on finances. Since finances are the subject of most marital arguments, Weaver devotes a chapter to some financial advice…but most of it is borrowed from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program. The Argument-Free Marriage provided me with a helpful refresher, but it was hardly worth the pain of reading the rest of the book.
Weaver has one helpful idea that was new to me, which she called “placing a work order”. It’s a concept that she derived from her career as a hotel manager. When something important comes up between spouses that for whatever reason can’t be addressed immediately, the spouses place a “work order.” They write the problem down and deal with it as soon as a better opportunity arises. This advice actually has merit and has been helpful to me and Jared.
As far as writing goes, Weaver is a proficient enough writer. Her book was organized well, it was easy to follow, and concepts were presented with clarity.
The only other positive thoughts I can share are from Jared’s perspective on the book. He appreciated the unoriginal content as good reminders of things he already knew. He shares more of Weaver’s “grin-and-bear-it” approach to life, so he wasn’t bothered by it. He would be more likely than I to swallow some problems for the sake of not rocking the boat.
All the same, I would argue that your time would be best spent on another marriage book.