While they’re dating, many couples discuss their relationship, ask important questions, and hold a type of inventory. But they often lose the habit after marriage. Regardless of how long you’ve been together, marriage inventories help you and your partner connect, discuss, change, and love. These discussions build emotional confidence and connection in the relationship. They can also prevent minor issues before they become major, and they can break down major issues until they become minor, or even nonexistent!
So, what exactly is a marriage inventory? There’s no right-and-wrong, but the following guidelines have worked ideally for me.
How To Inventory
Start simply. Just sit down, check in, and ask how each other is doing. When you’re ready, there are 14 topics that are helpful to discuss. You can use the additional thoughts and questions that follow each topic below to inspire more conversation, but let the root question “How are we doing with ____?” begin and guide each topic.
- Communication. Have you had problems with interruptions or assumptions? Are you open about everything? Does the environment feel safe?
- Personality. How do you get along? Addressing little pet peeves can be useful. If someone wants the toilet lid kept down or the sponge never left in the sink, those are easy to change, and they could mean a lot to your partner.
- Balancing I and We. You’re one couple, but two individuals. Do you get enough time alone and time together? Does the way you speak reflect your unity and respect your individuality?
- Dealing with Conflict. Do you compromise fairly and take turns “winning”?
- Commitment. Are you both giving 100%? Never think of a relationship as 50-50. If you both give 100%, then your relationship will never fall short, and you’re still equal partners.
- Roles. Are you fulfilling your roles as husband and wife? Is someone working full-time to support the family? Is the other staying home with the kids? Are you each doing some of both? Do you know who is responsible for what roles?
- Expectations. These are how we fulfill our roles. Sometimes we fulfill our roles but miss some expectations. If the role is “breadwinner,” is there an expectation that you’re still home for dinner? Do you know what you expect from each other in your roles? Do you feel those expectations are fair and being met? Are there things that aren’t expectations but would be nice bonuses?
- Parenting. Every kid is different, and every age is different. What do you want to teach your children and how? How are your relationships with your kids?
- Family and Friends. Think about his, hers, and yours together. Does he/she feel satisfied with the time and attention you give to his/her parents, siblings, and friends? Do you feel satisfied with how you spend family and friend time?
- Free Time. How do you feel about how you both spend your free time? Is someone concerned about the other spending too much time on video games or social media? Is someone saying, “Free time?! I don’t get any free time!” If so, can you fix that?
- Intimacy. Do you both feel sexually fulfilled? Do you give each other the time, care, and attention that each other needs?
- Money. Do you feel you are budgeting your money well?
- Forgiveness. We’re all imperfect. Have you forgiven each other for wrongdoings, and are there more things that you’re having trouble forgiving?
- Spirituality. Are you both on track with where you want to be spiritually? Are you praying together and studying scripture together?
Why to Inventory
This inventory will give you an opportunity to reflect on what you may want to change. We can take our weak areas and make them strong, and we can make our strongest areas even stronger.
It’s all too easy to let things get bottled up. Then we blow. We want to avoid that; it’s so much easier, loving, and less confusing to instead express clearly when something bothers us before it snowballs. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.
When to Inventory
If you’re going through a lot or you’re in a type of transition period, consider doing an inventory every week. If things are going smoothly, still plan for an inventory every month. Sometimes, you may feel like you don’t need to do an inventory. But you should still take the time to do it so that you can communicate that it’s all going smoothly and confirm that each other feels the same way. That will be encouraging to each other; your spouse will appreciate hearing the good!
Rodney Limb has always enjoyed listening to people and helping them work out problems and struggles. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Nationally Licensed Hypnotherapist for over 20 years, he has helped hundreds of couples create a happy and thriving marriage out of disaster. He also provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, and overcoming various behavioral addictions.
A Deeper Look into Spiritual Truths
“True love is a process. True love requires personal action.” — Marvin J. Ashton
“Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
“A happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
Marriage inventories are a way to take action, encourage and assist each other, and resolve concerns.