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Companionship Inventory

LDS missionaries are advised to hold a companionship inventory once per week.  This is a session wherein the two missionaries will talk about any issues that may exist in their relationship.  Many elders will take this opportunity to tell their companion things that they dislike--maybe things that he does that bother him or frustrate him or annoy him.  Most of the companionship inventories that I did with my companions on my mission were relatively balanced.  We discussed things that we were doing well and liked and other things that we could improve upon.  With one particular companion, our inventories were almost always all positive, where we were simply telling each other things that we admired in the other person.

Any couple has companionship inventory.  It is inevitable--whether it is planned and routine, like it is for LDS missionaries--or whether it just happens whenever someone has been holding something in and then finally the steam blows the lid off the pot and a torrent of angered words ensues.  I am by no means a relationship counselor, but I have noticed that couples who routinely evaluate their relationship are less likely to have these explosive fights than those who do not.  I believe it is important to discuss matters in any relationship (friendly/romantic/etc) on a regular basis and while both people are in an equitable mood.

Last night, Conrad and I had what I would call a companionship inventory.  We have had many like this.  It usually goes like this.
"I love being with you."
"Me too."
"You're so sweet and thoughtful.  You cook for me and warm up my car in the winter."
"That's because I love you so much.  And you do nice things for me."
"I'm not as sweet as you are.  When do I ever go out of my way for you?"
etc etc

Why do I think this is an effective method?  Because people are proud.  It is easier for a person to admit eir own fault than to have it pointed out to em.  If I tell Conrad that he is doing something that I don't like, he may become defensive.  If he admits it himself, he's more likely to be open to discussion about it.  But people are also fair.  If I point out numerous things that I like about Conrad, he will want to search through his own behavior, do some introspection, and offer up evidence to contradict me--to prove that he is not perfect.  So he willingly volunteers the information.  Maybe it's something that's been bothering me and I've wanted to bring up, and maybe it's something that I had never even given thought to.  But the point is that it's something that he personally feels guilty about and wants to improve.  Now that he has told me about it, we can discuss ways to help him improve--perhaps there are things I can do or say to help him, or perhaps I just need to be aware of it so that I can be more patient and understanding with him as he works through it.

Personally, I feel that this method is far more effective.  Rather than trying to control the other person, you simply let em express emself and encourage em to be the best person ey can be.  Each partner is inspired to be better, exposing eir own weaknesses and highlighting the strengths of the other.  Each person feels respected and valued because ey hears things that the other person likes about em.  It can be a wonderful opportunity to express love for each other, to strengthen the bond between you, and to learn and grow together as a team rather than as opponents.  This is my kind of companionship inventory.  Maybe it won't work for all people.  But, it does work for us.

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