Last month I shared one of my favorite articles as part of a blog post about how to deal with differences of opinions and disagreements in your marriage. Something I didn't share that was part of that same article was what we call companion inventory. This is usually used by LDS missionaries as a way to set goals for their work, their companion relationship and their personal life. They also use this meeting time to resolve any conflicts that they may have with each other. A lot of couples try to apply these inventories to their marriage as well and I've heard stories about those inventories going extremely wrong and ending with hurt feelings on both sides.
This article nicely laid out how you can make these meetings successful in your marriage and use them for the betterment of your relationship!
Set Up a Consistent Discussion Time
Whether you choose to make these meetings formal or informal is up to you, but deciding to have them on a regular basis will make them more effective. Maybe you want to have them weekly or maybe you only feel the need to talk quarterly. You will also want to decide on the setting for your meetings as well. Do you set a specific date and time to have your discussion and hold a structured meeting or is an informal setting like a date night or late night walk better for the two of you?
Start With the Good
Take turns sharing things that you love about each other. What are some specific moments since your last inventory that you may not have told your spouse how much you appreciated? Tell them the things they've done that you're proud of them for and the qualities that you admire in them. Don't be afraid to build them up a little, everyone needs and deserves compliments and praise. "Relationships thrive on positive thoughts, positive words, [and] positive actions."
Be Sensitive With Your Suggestions
When it's your turn to discuss frustrations and issues that you may be having with your spouse, don't criticize. "When we criticize, we are implying blame and we're acting as if we were qualified to point out someone else's faults and weaknesses... Criticisms of a negative nature can wear away the bonds of love until the marital fabric is weakened and ruined." Avoid a written list of faults, instead give your partner suggestions in a loving and kind way. "The object is to understand each other's feelings, to see things from the other person's point of view, and to discuss ways to resolve problems." You may also consider limiting how many suggestions you make during each inventory meeting so that the negatives don't become overwhelming.
Be Open to What Your Spouse is Saying
Don't become defensive when you are on the receiving end of the suggestions. If your partner is taking the time to bring something up, then it must be something that they really want to work on or change in your marriage. Be willing to talk about things and find a solution to the problems that you both feel are present in your relationship. "Some are of great consequence; others may seem trivial. But all are important for husband/wife harmony." If you are really dedicated to your marriage and making the relationship that you have with your spouse the best that it can be, you will open to discussing the things that are bothering them just like you would want them to be willing to do with the things that you bring up.
The companion inventory way of approaching problems that one or both of you might be having is a great way to open the lines of communication, learn to be a better listener, be more aware of how you treat your spouse and your marriage, and also give you an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and build up the one you love. The article suggests asking the question, "What can I do to be a better husband/wife?" as part of your talk. If you're using the companion inventory correctly, that's exactly what the goal and end result should be, to make you a better spouse and in turn make your marriage better.
Enduring All Things has a great Weekly Couple Check-in Cheat Sheet. Head over here to get yours!
Have you ever used this sort of process in your marriage before? How have you made it work well for you?