Book Review: Stop the Fight! by Michelle Brody, PhD

Photo courtesy of Michelle Brody

Book: Stop the Fight!: How to Break Free From the 12 Most Common Arguments and Build a Relationship That Lasts

Author: Michelle Brody, PhD

Genre: Non-fiction, self-help

Publisher: The Experiment

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

Additional Information: Available in paperback (304 pages), e-reader

Stop the Fight! may be the book to end all books on fighting with your partner. One of the best parts about it are the unique and clever cartoon illustrations and anecdotes that help the reader clearly understand the concepts.

Dr. Michelle Brody, the author, is a psychologist and specialist in the resolution of relational conflict. She delves into the most common arguments couples have and creates a conflict resolution road map with words and companion drawings to help couples end them or at least deal with them much more constructively. 

The book promotes several overall messages and techniques that can help with fighting. For instance, providing a way for couples to see the bigger picture during arguments. This includes the fact that some differences between partners are not entirely reconcilable. The self-defeating and circular nature of fights is explored, as well. The author also teaches how to avoid defensiveness, one of the detrimental personal habits that prolongs arguments. In addition, she describes how we've all experienced our good intentions resulting in an unexpected bad outcome, and how to cope when this happens.

Dr. Brody also points out that certain themes, such as “you don’t care about me,” can underlie many fights. 

Some of the fights Dr. Brody fleshes out are the “Partner Improvement Fight,” the “Nagging-Tuning Out Fight,” and the arguments about parenting, money, sex and relatives, among other situations.

  This book is an excellent reference for couples. You would do well to keep this book handy to refer back to as needed. There is a glossary in the back to review some of the terms that are used and an index.

Dr. Brody provides practical tools and tips in an easy to understand, and often comic format. She comes across as trustworthy, caring and knowledgeable in her approach. Couples would benefit the most from reading it together. This isn’t to say that one partner reading it alone wouldn’t get lots of helpful advice, it would just be ideal for both couples to have this information in order to truly work through relationship distress.

One topic that the book did not address is the couple that “never fights.”  This is often just as alarming as a couple that “fights all the time.” I would be interested to know Dr. Brody’s take on the conflict-avoidant couple. That may be a book in and of itself but, nonetheless, there are plenty of couples who lose their connection and carry around negative feelings when they are afraid of heated discussions. 

This book is a gift to the self-help genre. It is reminiscent of the excellent books by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Siblings Without Rivalry, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk) that contain both illustrations and content to make the concepts clear and understandable.

Books such as Stop the Fight! are not replacements for counseling if a couple is not able to resolve on-going conflict constructively. They are, however, very helpful resources for couples resistant to counseling, value self-improvement, or have not reached a dangerous level of distress.

Consumers must be careful as to whose advice they are listening to. As a marriage therapist, I would have no reservation about recommending Stop the Fight! to anyone wishing to fix their relationship. The book is a very refreshing take on how couples can get out of repetitious negative communication patterns that can easily ruin a relationship.  

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