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Sweet nights and tough talks, part 2

Continuing from the last post, this is about the second element in what we think makes for the strong foundation we have together. I want to emphasize that these elements are what we've discovered work for us. Every relationship is different because we're all unique individuals and have different things we bring to the table, so to speak. What works for us may not work for others. We're just offering this as food for thought and to share a little more about us.

By talking about the "strong foundation" we have together, we're definitely not implying we have any kind of "perfect" relationship. We don't. We're not even trying for that. I don't even think there's such a thing as a "perfect relationship" mainly because there are no "perfect individuals" to begin with.
I mean, I might come close...Winking smile......but moving right along...

A while back we both noticed that we would occasionally have these arguments or misunderstandings or "spats" that seemed to come out of nowhere. Not the kind of arguments you have when the issue is major and crystal clear. I'm talking about the arguments that literally come out of nowhere and seem to be blown all out of proportion.

"Matty, why can't you remember to pick up your underwear and socks and sneakers in the bedroom?"

"But I already told you the other day, Brad, I was planning to stop by for a minute and see Greg after work." 

My older brother calls these Toothpaste Issues. As in, "Why do you squeeze the toothpaste tube that way instead of rolling it?" Nothing that's (hopefully) going to threaten the future of the relationship. More like minor irritants that build up and up over time and are rarely the topic of serious discussion.

We've had our share of major issues like any couple, don't get me wrong. Times when we felt like we needed to sit down and hash some things out. Times when feelings were hurt. Times when we just needed to chill so we could get to the bottom of things. Thankfully those times have been few and far between and we've always come out on the other end much stronger than before.

What I'm talking about is making sure we schedule some time periodically where we sit down and check in with each other about anything on our mind, instead of waiting for something to pop up unexpectedly. Kind of a pre-emptive strike, I guess.

Not because there are any serious issues that threaten our future together, but because we've found it helpful to step out of our normal day-to-day life and routines to just say, "Where are we right now?"
I have to be honest and say when we have this kind of "open" discussion, I always get a little nervous. I won't lie. I've spent a major amount of time in my life trying to always think ahead, anticipate things that people might be thinking or feeling, trying to always be on top of things. Having ADHD starting as a kid, I've spent a lot of time apologizing for my impulsive behavior and "motor mouth." I'm very sensitive to anything that sounds like criticism.

When somebody points out something I've said or done that bothers them, my first reaction is to go into defensive mode. Then I start beating myself up for being a "screw-up." My goal is to always try and stay open to what people say and be objective about it. But it doesn't come easily.

So why would I agree to intentionally put myself in a situation where we might be bringing up issues that will be hard to deal with? Also, what's that saying about "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
Well, we've learned that if we go into this kind of talk knowing ahead of time that the entire purpose of it is to make the relationship stronger, then it's definitely worth the effort. So far we've learned that it's important to check in with each other about the small things that can do serious damage if they're not talked about and dealt with. And all those "small issues" have a way of snowballing into something big if not dealt with.

Doing something like these talks might not work for every couple. In fact, I can see how they might even be a waste of time or feel too forced or fake for some. So I suppose every couple has to find ways to deal with those small issues that crop up periodically to keep them from snowballing into even bigger things. What works for us might not work for you. And what works for you might not work for us.

Since none of us has a "perfect" relationship, what have been some things you've found helpful in your relationship -- past or current -- that have been helpful in building a strong foundation? We all could use suggestions! 
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