When I first saw Fawn Weaver’s The Argument-Free Marriage: 28 Days to Creating the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted with the Spouse You Already Have available for review, I thought, “Sure.” But then I remembered thinking the same thing about Brant Hansen’s book Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better (my review here),and it was (is!) brilliant (I’ve already sent out copies and recommended it on numerous occasions). If you get nothing else from this review, I hope you walk away remembering this: go buy Brant’s book because it is a foundation-changing premise that will likely help long before seeing any change while going through The Argument-Free Marriage. Now, back to the book at hand.
The foreword is written by Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, and basically says we are incomplete unless we are married. Granted, the unmarried are not the primary target audience of this book, but I still think this is a poor approach. Strike one.
In the first chapter (really an introduction), Weaver writes that she and her husband have never had an argument in twelve years of marriage. In chapter 3 (Day 2) she eventually defines “argument” for the reader: “The definition I most often use is the same one that will appear at the top of your screen if you type the term into Google: ‘an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.’ It is the latter portion of that definition that I truly believe can be avoided” (18). If this is her foundation, then she must be working with a relative timespan before she stamps something as an argument, which is just long enough to exclude the experiences she shares in the book (pages 134–35 demonstrate the most obvious example of a definable argument had by the happy couple who claim they’ve never argued). Weaver and her husband probably have a very happy marriage and argue much less than anyone they’ve ever met, but given what she’s written about their relationship, I certainly don’t believe in the pristine claim. I’d much rather read someone who’s honest about these things. Strike two.
Jumping back to when I first saw the title and remembered reading Unoffendable, I thought my wife and I could give this book a go since we do argue—we’re human. After getting through the first three chapters, we realized this was not going to be very practical (it won’t fit into 28 days—Day 10 could take months just trying to find couples to imitate!) and seemed to be a bit hokey. However, I accepted the book in exchange for a review, so I carried on. This is no 28-day fix as it claims. Strike three.
The final week is nothing more than a Dave Ramsey fest. That’s not necessarily bad, but none of the chapters deal with how to not argue, though finances are a common source of arguing. Again this doesn’t really fit the 28-day challenge, and can’t. Strike four.
Though I do no doubt that Weaver loves God (she expresses it a couple times and regrets yelling at God instead of her husband in Day 16), the approach in this book is not to glorify God, but to love your spouse first above all else (174). Praying or meditating (distraction from getting heated) and tithing to a church or charity (simply giving away money) apparently perform magic and will keep you from ever having an argument or financial trouble. This will surely broaden the potential buyers market, but I can’t imagine sharing these points as so presented. Strike five.
Okay, so I just kept going with the strikes. You get no sport analogy from me—especially not baseball! (Doh! Did that just count?) My point is that it’s just not something I would recommend. Can it be helpful and beneficial? Absolutely! There’s some good stuff in here about keeping your cool, being a good listener, communicating well, setting boundaries, and, most importantly, loving one another. There’s just nothing new and sits on a dishonest premise. And…Weaver mentions her first book and blogging community in almost every chapter like a bad promo.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. 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.”