Read the book this weekend in the Dutch translation. Though written from a non-religious perspective, the content is sound. The basic premesis is that beneath the conflicts we can have in marriage, quite often if not always there is the fear of abandonment. Johnson argues that like children that simply don't grow or can even die from a lack of love (I can personally testify to the truth of the former), as adults we still need the emotional bond of love and acceptance. The myth of the strong lonely self made character is exactly that: a myth.
Out of that fear people tend to avoid speaking about their real desires, thus sending out mixed messages. Which means that in a conflict within a marriage, the real issue is rarely the subject of discussion. And because of that, a solution is hard to find.
She describes how couples can end up in diabolical dialogues, that only enforce themselves and hold the couple captive. If, for instance, the wife feels neglected, she might start to ask why her husband works so much. He then starts defending that he needs to provide for his family. But the isssue is not his job and the time he spends there, the issue is the lack of emotional binding. He might start work less but that's not really what she wants. However, often these discussions only increase in attack and defend, and these are one of the diabolical dialogues.
In seven "conversations" (they are obviously more than a single conversation, perhaps seven topics might be a better description) Johnson works through the issues by trying to show what is really going on and how to go beyond the discussed issues and reach to the heart of the matter. Of course, this needs confidence and trust.
Well, there is no way I can describe an entire book in a few lines, but perhaps it says enough when I say Hannie and I intend to work through these conversations. Not because we're in a mess, but because any marriage can still get better.