Taking Relationship Inventories

strategies for investing in your marriage

Today I'm introducing you to Merritt from The Marriage Readiness Project. She has a heart and passion for helping women to band together to glorify God no matter their relationship status, and especially empowering singles to live beyond their loneliness. This post is packed with great information for strengthening our marriages, or communication in any relationship really. Perhaps a good thing to think about as we simplify our bedrooms and make them ready for the intimate relationships that grow there?

For affirmation in your life's value, purpose and meaning beyond your marital status, sign up for Merritt's getting started guide >> here.


Trina has us working on clearing out space and cleaning up one of the most intimate areas of our homes: the bedroom. It got me thinking—how can we establish consistent, simple practices that keep things clean and tidy inside our most important, intimate relationship?

What follows are examples from our marriage, counsel from pastors, and tips we've learned to help keep our marriage healthy and growing. Try any or all of them. Figure out which ones work best for you, your spouse, and your communication styles. Or share your strategies in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

Take a Relationship Inventory

We all know communication is important to a healthy marriage, but life happens and all of a sudden we've drifted apart. These steps are only the beginning, what you do with what is said is where the real growth happens.

P.S. Even if you aren’t married, most of these steps can apply to any relationship that’s important to you.

Step One. Take an Annual Relationship Inventory

Keep a journal to reflect back on the year.

The Husband and I spend one weekend afternoon near our anniversary looking back on the previous year

of marriage. We keep a journal specifically for this purpose and each year review what we wrote last year.

Then, we write our answers to the following questions:
  1. What are some of our favorite memories from this year?
  2. What have we learned in the last year?
  3. What made us laugh? {We have our own little made-up language so new words created in the last 365 are added to the list.}
  4. What do we want to work on in the year to come?
These questions often stir up other conversation topics. Plus, it helps us reconnect and nurture gratitude for the marriage God has given us.

Step Two. A Monthly Relationship Inventory

Check in monthly on deeper topics.

This step hasn’t yet become a habit for us, but the idea really appeals to me. My friend Emily at Today’s Letters and her hubby have a set of questions they discuss weekly. That frequency was a little too much for us, so asking some of these on a monthly basis might be our next step:
  1. How have you felt loved recently?
  2. What does this next month look like for you?
  3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
  4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy?
  5. How can I pray for you?
  6. Is there any conflict / disagreement lingering between us that we need to address? 
Or, monthly would be a good frequency to review your Annual Relationship Inventory to see what progress you’ve made on things you want to work on. Didn’t make any progress? Pick one thing you can do in the next month that will move you closer to your goal.

Step Three. A Weekly Relationship Inventory

Practice a weekly Date Night.

Depending upon your season in life, this may be more difficult, but make it your goal to have intentional time together, away from kids, even if you have to modify what it looks like for a while. For us, Thursday night is always Date Night. This means no cooking; we go out to dinner {it doesn’t have to be fancy; we’re on a budget ya’know} and we have an intentional conversation while we eat.

We try to steer away from standard questions like ‘How was your day?’ Instead one or both of us come to the table with ONE deeper question. Examples might be:
  • How is your heart today?
  • What’s weighing heavily on you right now?
  • What could I do to lighten your load or serve you?
  • What are you excited {or encouraged} about right now?
  • If you could nurture a closer relationship with a friend, who would it be and what would you do?
On Date Night, we also try to avoid running errands or screen time until after we’ve connected emotionally.

Step Four. A Daily Relationship Inventory

Practice FAN. Every day.

F=Feelings. Share how you are feeling right now.
A=Affirmation. Affirm your spouse for something positive you see in them.
N=Needs. Share one thing you need right now or one way your spouse could be of help.

This can be a formal or informal practice. Figure out what works for you. But aim for checking in daily. It might help to think about this like addressing the clutter in your home. Instead of waiting to deal with piles of emotions / feelings / issues that have gathered over time, make it a regular practice to observe and ask your spouse about his / her feelings and needs in the moment, especially the stressful / challenging ones. She might have no idea what she’s feeling, but asking can help her figure it out. Does your husband glow when you affirm him? Make a special effort each day to point out something that makes you proud of him. The point is to intentionally cultivate awareness, communication, and appreciation in your marriage.

Not sure how to get started? The best place to start is with you. Pray for guidance. Ask God to show you how to open up opportunities for vulnerability and communication in your marriage. Then, look for a quiet moment to gently share a need you have, a feeling you’re wrestling with, or an affirmation of your spouse (in fact, affirmations are an excellent place to start. Here’s a good one: “Sweetheart, I really appreciate how you work so hard to provide for our family.”

Finally, express your desire to invest more deeply in the health of your marriage through regular, honest communication with one another.

For more from Merritt:
website | MarriageReadinessProject.com (sign-up for the free getting started guide)
facebook | TMRP (The Marriage Readiness Project)
twitter | @MarriageRP

What is a strategy you've learned for keeping your marriage or other relationships strong and growing?