Marriage. Could the use of StrengthsFinder possibly build and protect these vital relationships?
Using StrengthsFinder, each individual identifies his or her dominant talent themes. With that knowledge, individuals can understand their natural recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour.
Conflicts between people usually arise when people impose their natural ways of thinking, feeling and behaving on others. Most of the time, this occurs without an individual’s awareness. As a Strengths coach, I often use the StrengthsFinder tool to help couples build a greater understanding of each other's lenses and to facilitate conversations that would improve the quality of their relationships. A marriage relationship is very intense. The trust and quality of relationship takes a lot of time to strengthen. In Strengths School, we developed the StrengthsFinder Couple Workshop, designed to help couples. The learning curve is usually steep but immensely rewarding for the couples who attend our workshops.
The passion to conduct these relationship workshops arose out of the transformation of my own marriage. Michelle and I have been married for almost 10 years. In these years, there certainly have been challenges. My dominant StrengthsFinder themes are Activator, Communication, Strategic, Self-Assurance and Command. Michelle’s dominant StrengthsFinder themes are Responsibility, Achiever, Maximizer, Ideation and Relator. We have very contrasting themes and often our natural ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving clash, resulting in conflicts.
How do we use this tool in a practical way to grow our marriage?
Using the StrengthsFinder tool, we first try to have conversations that seek to understand each other’s dominant themes. Understanding each other's tendencies in thinking, feeling and behaving have helped us acquire a heightened level of patience. There were many paradigm shifts that took place in this process. Here, I list 5 examples:
1. GETTING THINGS DONE:
There is usually a to-do list stuck on the fridge. Unsurprisingly, these lists were generated by Michelle. These to-do lists are not just for herself - there is also a list for me! Upon understanding her Achiever talent theme, I realized that when a task is completed, there is a huge level of satisfaction for her. Because of this new understanding, I now engage my Activator theme, which is the ability to take action quickly, to finish the tasks that are required. I used to procrastinate, which led to Michelle getting upset and frustrated. The new motivation to get these tasks done stems from the desire to love and serve her.
2. UNDERSTANDING OWNERSHIP
"Apologies are not enough. Rationalizations and excuses are not acceptable.” These words came out of the description of the Gallup StrengthsFinder Responsibility theme. For me, this was a great revelation! What seemed to be a minor mistake or a careless act often escalated into a huge conflict. Discussing this theme allowed us to make adjustments on both ends. She agreed to be more gracious towards the occasional mistakes I will probably continue to make. She also chooses to now take note and be affirming of the many tasks I complete. What used to be a “this is expected of you!” has now changed to a “thank you for doing these.” I also take note of the fact that her psychological ownership is higher than the average person and I’m now more careful to avoid making empty promises to her.
3. DECISION MAKING
My Activator theme often clashed with her Responsibility theme. My Activator says, “taking action is better than no action at all,” while her Responsibility says, “doing nothing is better than doing something wrong.” These contrasting thoughts often led to conflicts in decision-making, especially in areas where many uncertainties lie. Discussions in this area have helped us to understand each other better. We decided not to change one another but to find areas of collaboration. We agreed on a few specific areas of decision-making in which I would submit to her suggestions, and vice versa. These handles have greatly reduced our conflicts.
4. PROVIDING OPTIONS
Michelle now understands that my Strategic theme enjoys having options. Killing off options at the start of any discussions is a big no-no for me. Giving me options to choose from was a powerful way of communicating with me. From deciding what to do on a weekend to deciding what to have for meals, giving me different alternatives makes me feel valued.
5. SERVING TOGETHER
As a Relator with the Achiever and Responsibility theme, Michelle enjoys being involved and doing things together with me. I learnt to make her feel more valued by finding opportunities for us to work together. One of the things we intentionally do is to mentor younger couples. We also serve together in church by co-facilitating a bible study small group. I also try to involve her in my business by tapping on her Ideation for fresh and innovative ways to grow the business.
While I can list more transforming paradigms that have strengthened our marriage and the new ways we found in engaging each other, I’m very mindful that this marriage relationship is still a work in progress. We cannot grow complacent. Open communication to build trust and mutual respect continues to be fundamental for us. We are thankful that we have discovered a tool and now possess a weapon that helps to strengthen our bond as husband and wife. We continue to use StrengthsFinder as a conversation tool to help us understand each other and resolve conflicts.
How is your relationship with your spouse or partner? Consider using the StrengthsFinder tool as a means to improve and strengthen your relationships. If you are located in Singapore or ASEAN, consider joining our StrengthsFinder® Couple Workshop.