Ethiopia: What’s the best way to protect a marriage with unresolved issues?
Every disagreement or disgruntled moment my husband and I have experienced in our marriage falls into one of two categories: pseudo-issues (arguments about a thing that might be annoying us but isn’t the actual cause of our dissatisfaction) and core issues (the thing that's actually upsetting us). The real issue can inevitably be traced to fear—fear of loss or fear of pain. The real issue is that something has awoken that fear, and nothing has occurred to quiet it.
Whenever conflict arises, I begin by reminding myself that unresolved issues from my past WILL surface in my current relationship.
By starting from this assumption, I save my partner the task of convincing me that whatever is upsetting me might be about me at least as much as it's about him (probably more). By recognizing the deep and abiding impact our past trauma has on our present intimacies, I recognize quickly that if I feel deeply frustrated and hurt because my husband failed to do the dishes (again) after we'd recently discussed it, I'm not actually upset about this single action (or inaction, in this case). We seldom are. Instead, my feelings are a reaction to a fear that's been triggered by the circumstance—in this case, it may be a fear that he doesn't value my feelings or have the same kind of motivation to invest in our home as he once did.