How to make your marriage work.
Most disputes and other conversations are about two things: do you care about me, and can I trust you. When you argue about putting the toilet seat down or whether we should go to the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving, it’s only partly about those actual things. What it’s really about is this: I care about the toilet seat (or going to my parents’ house for dinner), so can you show me you care about what I care about? If you ignore the other person’s desires (continually leave the toilet seat up when they ask you not to), then you are signalling you don’t care about what they care about. And what it’s really about is, I’ve given you my heart and opened up to you, so can I trust you with it? Will you reject me?
Unfortunately, most people don’t recognize this and can sometimes think the other person’s concerns are silly and so they dismiss the issue. The other problem is the person who cares about it doesn’t explicitly say they care about it and want the other person to care – they just imply it and hope their partner gets the message. So the responsibility is on both partners to figure this out.
I should note that ideally, the care and trust of the other person doesn’t need to be continually tested and questioned – you know it. That’s not always the case, though, and it often takes time to build that trust.
The full article is worth reading but, the above is likely 90% of the reason this couple is still married. They understand that most couples never have an intelligent fight about real issues that actually need resolution.
I’d edit what he said somewhat: The two categories of conflicts are usually: Am I safe in love and am I significant to you.
But, at the end of the day, it matters not at all. What matters is that they grasp what they are really fighting over:
Their hearts — not the issue of the day.