I read The Good Fight by Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin this week and I totally [unexpectedly] loved it. Unexpectedly because as much as I love trashy thrillers, British chick-lit, and young adult novels, I get a little judgmental about self-help books and memoirs. I love a memoir by a comedian, anyone in the Obama circle, or a chef - it's a random list but that pretty much covers my favorite memoirs. I'm not really into non-fiction in general but will tolerate a self-help book from a doctor or an "expert". I recently read Getting the Love You Want by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen Hunt and I LOVED it. It's well-researched, clinical, and clear. But I've been struggling with the very human and non-clinical aspects of this journey, like I KNEW HER AND THIS IS STILL SO AWFUL AND WE HAVE TO LEAVE NEW YORK AND HOW WILL I EVER BE OK, to name a few.
Enter The Good Fight. Written by a country singer / actress and former NFL player, it is not clinical and entirely human. It is deeply personal, vulnerable, and real. To be honest, it's exactly what I hope to create here. There's also a weird coincidence / connection in that they also got married in Charlottesville, Virginia and one of my dear friends worked their wedding. Jana and Mike have been extremely open about their struggles, his infidelities, and their work to move past the pain and create a better marriage as a result. The book is around 200 pages and you can tear through it. I have lots of thoughts on it but what I've been thinking about a lot is their distinction between hurt and harm in relationships.
When I decided to stay, I told my husband that if he ever hurts me again, I'm out. Gone. I would work to heal on my own to come out stronger but this is the last time that I will stay and work through this with him, as a couple. Thinking about that critically now, it is completely unfair and unrealistic. We will both hurt each other eventually. He will do something that hurts my feelings, I'll make a mean comment, we will disagree, we will argue and fight. And we are working on our communication to make sure that those fights are productive and don't continue indefinitely into resentment and shame.
So the distinction here is harm. If my husband ever knowingly harms me again, I'm out. Harming your partner is doing something that specifically disregards their well-being and emotional safety. Lying and cheating are two excellent examples. I would feel hurt if my husband donated all of my favorite books to make space for our home gym without asking me first but I would be harmed if he reactivates his Instagram account without telling me. The important difference here is the impact of a behavior that mimics past behaviors of deceit and brings back my trauma of discovery. It's tedious to tease out but all comes down to boundaries.
Jana and Mike have incredibly clear boundaries laid out in their book and I'll be following their lead. More to come on my other feelings (both positive and a little more skeptical) about the book but highly recommend to anyone in a relationship looking for an easily-digestible story about fighting to stay.