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HOW TO WIN A FAMILY FIGHT
Will Cunningham
Multnomah Publishers
Self-Help
ISBN: 1590526449

Novelist Will Cunningham takes an engaging look at conflict in HOW TO WIN A FAMILY FIGHT, a light and funny self-help book updated from the original more than two decades ago.

Cunningham uses three components --- stories, Jesus and vulnerability --- to frame his advice. Whats changed in two decades? Cunningham says he keeps the same core guidance principles in the new edition, but gives his writing a makeover. He targets his advice to couples and parents, but this is a book that is general enough to be used by anyone who has ever had a disagreement with someone else.

Theres not a lot of new information here - just plain common sense - and good reminders for anyone about fair fighting. I particularly liked the Too Many Players on the Field section, which offers these three insights about fighting:

1) Dont appeal to parental opinions or preferences to support your side in a conflict.
2) Dont give in to the temptation to share the dirty laundry with an outsider, such as a parent or friend.
3) Dont draw your children into the middle of a spousal conflict in an effort to beat the other person.

I also enjoyed his thought, One of my goals in life is to live in such a way that I have stories to tell eight-year-olds. A great reminder to pay attention, not get overly busy with things to do, and keep a fresh, interesting perspective on how we go about life. I also appreciated his suggestion to be students of our loved ones. In other words, learn how your child or spouse thinks and it will go a long way toward conflict resolution.

For those readers who like self-help books, be warned: Cunningham usually takes one good piece of advice (Become aware of those times when your fuse is the shortest, listening requires understanding) and wraps it in a long funny story or two. He enjoys tangents and rabbit trails that can be fun, but if you want to get to the point quickly, this will not be your book. If you like stories, youll feel right at home.

Cunningham also uses a lot of sports metaphors (offsides, delay of game, backfield in motion: bringing up the past to win a fight) and macho-type anecdotes (eating hot peppers on a dare, boxing someone who was taunting him) that will appeal to some readers and not so much to others. His reason? Every family fight is like a sporting event. There are two opponents. Both want to win. And most of your fights happen on the weekend. Im a woman who loves most sports, but still feel that the tone of this book will appeal more to men than women, or perhaps makes it a good book for women to give to their husbands. Although he only briefly alludes to his views on men and rulership in marriage, his conclusions may inspire some discussion from egalitarian readers.

Cunningham doesnt say that readers will quit fighting. Rather, he offers encouragement that you will fight in a better way, as he and his wife Cindy now do. We are fighting more as a team now, Cindy and I --- more like players who love each other instead of suspect each other. Our fights are shorter, softer, fewer and further between. We seem to be gaining ground as a team does that is moving down the field Up ahead is the goal line, bright and eternal.

If you cant seem to break the cycle of fighting in your marriage, then youll appreciate Cunninghams solid tips on ways to make conflicts resolvable, and to have less of them.

   --- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at phrelanzer@aol.com.

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