Happy April folks! I am sorry that I've been absent from the blogosphere so much recently. I spent a week on vacation (in Colorado visiting family and in Miami visiting Bill)and when I got back there was just so much to do that I spaced out on blogging until now. As you probably notice, my blog looks different! I hope you like it as much as I do. My friend Elly helped me to redesign the layout and I absolutely love it. Thanks Elly. :-) You will also notice that you can sign up to receive my blogs through e-mail which is pretty dang cool...I encourage you to do this, so that instead of having to check every once in awhile, you will be able to know instantly when I have posted.
Today's blog won't be long at all, I just want to share a powerful method to communicate with your beloved (boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé/fiancée, husband, wife, you name it!). Bad communication can really be a killer for relationships/marriages, and there is no better time to begin communicating than the present. I have found communication to be a huge area of growth for me, especially since I began dating Bill long-distance relationship. I first learned about "The Sheet" from my friend Kenna, who at the time was using it as she and then fiancé were preparing for marriage. I know that they still use it during their weekly "Family meetings". Bill & I use it on a weekly basis and make it a priority that we do "The Sheet" every Friday. We make a date of it, either on the phone, on Skype, or in person if we're lucky enough to both be in the same place together. We plan on using it once we are married, and we have both encouraged other couples to try it out.
So what is this "magical" sheet? Okay, okay....here goes. "The Sheet" is made up of different categories for discussion. Each person will do their "Sheet" a day in advance or throughout the week leading up to the time that they plan to discuss it as a couple. I like to take mine to my adoration hour to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and think about what I ought to bring up during "The Sheet" that week in my journal. I know other people who like to type it on their computer so they can keep track of it and watch the growth over time.
Here are the categories for reflection:
This is your chance to bring anything up that has not in normal conversation. For me, I normally give Bill a road map for what my schedule looks like in the week advance, we might talk about what kinds of things we'd like to do that week, tell each other updates about friends and family, etc. Pretty low vulnerability level, but very useful!
This is your chance to ask any questions to clarify things that your partner did earlier in the week. For instance, "Last night you mentioned you'd call me at 6 pm, but then you did not end up calling me until 8 pm...what happened?" or "Do you remember who committed to taking the dog on a walk every week, was it me or you?" It's important to stay away from sounding accusatory by asking questions very frankly but respectfully.
Requests w/ a proposed fix
This can be another touchy area. This is where you might make a request of your partner, respectfully and with lots of compassion. Perhaps it might be the opportunity to ask, "Would you mind if we had a date just the two of us next week? I love hanging out with your friends, but it has been a few weeks since we had quality me and you time." The best way to approach this category is by always having a proposed fix is you make any sort of criticism of his/her behavior/actions. Bringing up these kinds of things is very fruitful to good communication.
What is stressing you out? Let your partner know so that he/she can pray for you and remember to check in on you about these things in the near future.
Short-term Goals (3)
What do you want to accomplish in the next 1-4 weeks? These can be goals for your relationship, career goals, academic goals, spiritual goals, you name it! One of my short-term goals for the "Sheet" this week is to work on finding beautiful bridesmaid dresses for my wedding.
Long- term Goals (3)
What do you want to accomplish in the next month- 1 year from now? Sometimes these may stay the same from week to week, but that way, your partner is able to encourage you and ask how you are doing on them. One of my long term goals this week is to embrace inconveniences joyfully.
5 Things I love about you
This next section is by far my (and Bill's) favorite section. You get to come up with 5 reasons why you are madly in love with your partner. Why is he or she a blessing to you? What did you appreciate, in particular, that he/she did this week? It is best to be very specific since you need to come up with 5 new ones every time you do "The Sheet". For Bill and I, we blow each other a kiss after each one that we read. TMI!?! Haha, oh well. :-)
I pray that "The Sheet" will be a blessing for many of you if you are currently in a relationship or if you plan on doing so in the future. I cannot see why it couldn't also be used for roommate/housemate meetings, between mother/daughter, and so forth. If it is weird the first time you do it, try it again. It will certainly take some getting used to based on your personality styles. I would recommend that you introduce the sheet no earlier than 3-4 months into dating a person, just since until then you are still really getting to know the person. And of course, if you have been dating longer or are married, go ahead and share this post with your partner and I can't wait to hear about your thoughts about this helpful relationship tool that has really strengthened my relationship.
Jesus, I ask that you might bless all of my readers, the work and study that we have to do today, and thank you for this day, and the opportunity we have to glorify You in word and deed. May those who decide to use "The Sheet" be graced with good communication as we imperfect beings struggle towards the holiness you call us to in every dimension of our lives, especially in our relationships with those we love the most. Mary, pray for us, that we may make our lives a perfect offering to your son, Jesus. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.