How StrengthsFinder Can Improve Your Marriage

photo by Ben Rosett on

Self-knowledge is one of the most important aspects of self-leadership.

Assessments facilitate growth in self-knowledge. Over the years, I’ve used DISC, Myers-Briggs, Fascinate (a personal-brand identification assessment), and the Enneagram. But my favorite assessment for over 10 years? StrengthsFinder!

StrengthsFinder reveals your Top 5 themes. A theme is a collection of talents that guide how you think and engage with the world. If you concentrate on your themes, they can become strengths. A strength is the ability to consistently produce a positive outcome with excellence.

But StrengthsFinder didn’t just help me grow in self-knowledge. It has been a huge benefit to my marriage to Dorothy, who is also a Certified Strengths Coach.

Marriage serves as a living picture of the church’s relationship to Jesus. It is an expression of With God Leadership. With God Leadership not only includes self-leadership, it includes family-leadership.

And leading a family always starts with the health of the sacred union between husband and wife. StrengthsFinder helped my marriage become stronger in 2004. Dorothy and I discovered the benefits of StrengthsFinder back then when I wrote a letter to my dad.

My StrengthsFinder Story

In 2004, I wrote a letter to my dad to tell him what a great father he is. I wanted him to know that his fatherhood had reflected the Fatherhood of God.

After I wrote the letter, I gave it to Dorothy to review. I expected her to tell me how good it was and to tell me that she thought that I was the most talented writer ever (I don’t believe that to be true, but I wanted her to believe it).

Instead, my letter came back with red marks all over it. She had slashed through words and full sentences and made suggestions for replacements.

I felt deeply offended. How could she think that my writing was this bad?

So I did what any strong husband would do. I sulked… and made the changes she suggested.

She wondered why I was so hurt.

A few weeks later, Dorothy and I took the StrengthsFinder assessment. We discovered that her first theme is Maximizer — which takes good things and makes them great. We learned that the highest compliment a Maximizer can give to someone is suggestions for improvement.

In other words, Dorothy gave me the highest compliment my letter could get when she poured red ink onto it. It was her way of saying, “This is really good. I think with these changes, it could be great.”

This insight — along with dozens of other insights from StrengthsFinder — has changed our marriage. In fact, Dorothy edits all my blog posts — and I receive her suggestions as high compliments.

StrengthsFinder can help your marriage, too. Here are four ways that StrengthsFinder can improve your marriage.

1. Improved Understanding of Each Other

What happens in a marriage when you don’t understand why your spouse behaves the way he does? It drives you crazy! You may even resent your spouse for it.

StrengthsFinder helps you understand the way that your spouse sees and engages the world. Dorothy engages the world as a Maximizer. She constantly recognizes what is already good and strives to move it to great.

Once I understood this characteristic, I could no longer resent it. I learned to appreciate it.

2. Improved Communication with Each Other

Self-knowledge is crucial for good communication. If you do not know yourself, you cannot communicate your needs, wants, or emotions. StrengthsFinder provides a common language that allows you both to communicate more effectively with each other.

Because of StrengthsFinder, Dorothy and I know that I’m high in Focus. I easily become fixated on goals and plans. And I have a hard time adjusting to sudden changes of plans. If we have an unexpected situation, I can communicate to Dorothy, “This is going to take me a few minutes to adjust to the new plans. Can I have a little time to reorient my mind?”

If you and your spouse can learn to use StrengthsFinder as a common language, you can significantly improve your communication.

3. Improved Encouragement of Each Other

In marriage, love often leaks. As love leaks, you stop encouraging each other. Instead, you resent each other’s differences. The very things that attracted you to him or her are often the qualities that later infuriate you. (See Leadership and Self-Deception for a life-changing book on this topic).

StrengthsFinder helps you see your differences as your greatest assets.

You can encourage your spouse in those areas of greatest strength. As you learn how she is wired, let yourself admire her gifts.
Affirm her gifts.
Compliment her gifts.
Encourage her to participate in activities that utilize her gifts.

Your improved encouragement of each other helps plug the leaks.

4. Improved Conflict with Each Other

Conflict can cause you to forget that you love your spouse. Only a small portion of his behavior is driving you crazy. But that small portion can infect your view of him as a whole.

When this happens, you attack your spouse’s character rather than behavior. You attack character when you say, “You are driving me crazy?” or “Are you stupid?”

StrengthsFinder can help you engage in conflict more directly. Rather than attacking your spouse’s character, you can point out how her design is conflicting with yours. You can say, “Your Focus is distracting you from your family right now. Or “This is not ready for maximizing yet. Can you save those thoughts for another time?”

StrengthsFinder allows you to pinpoint specific areas of frustration and address those — without attacking the character of the person you love.

Self-knowledge is a crucial area of development in a healthy marriage. StrengthsFinder is one of the best tools for this.

If you want to improve your marriage, take the StrengthsFinder assessment with your spouse. Discuss what you learn about yourself with your spouse and listen to their new personal discoveries as well. If you feel you need to hire a coach to help guide you in your learning, I know a good one!

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Question: What tools have you used to increase your self-knowledge and improve your marriage?