Leveraging Strengths in Marriage

By Steve Gahagen


Not long ago, I met with a couple who was ready to call it quits. I didn’t know them very well and I knew the husband was not excited about meeting with me to talk about his marriage.

As the pair began to tell their story, they had a multitude of issues which they expressed with a fair amount of anger. Knowing I wasn’t likely to solve those problems I decided to take a different approach and talk about their strengths. They took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and we talked about the results over the next few weeks. Knowing their strengths were polar opposites helped them see one another from a different vantage point. They began to realize that many of their areas of conflict could become opportunities to compliment one another and be a great team. As far as I know, they are still together and last I heard, doing quite well.

I write this blog on my 37th wedding anniversary. My wife is one of those steady people you can count on. Her Top 5 Strengths include Harmony, Discipline, Consistency, and Responsibility. I share Responsibility with her and that’s a good thing. We have the ability together to get things done and to persevere through difficulty. We have a long-distance runner type mindset.

However, we’re very different otherwise. I have Top Strengths of Ideation, Strategic and Futuristic. I live in the world of ideas. I could easily drive her crazy. I like to find different paths and she likes the same path.

Whenever our strengths are polar opposites, there is a high potential for conflict. Or, there is the potential to be a great team. Jane keeps me grounded and I know I can count on her. I would like to think that I bring a freshness of ideas that are life-giving to her.

To celebrate our anniversary, Jane had the choice of going to the Mall of America or kayak fishing. On a cloudy misty day, she chose kayaking and fishing for five hours. That is significant because it would have never happened ten years ago - it wouldn’t have even been an option.

Because Jane loves the outdoors, I knew she would love kayaking. I could see it in my futuristic mind. But for years she refused to even try. She hated it. Finally my persistence paid off and she was willing to give it a try. It has now become her first choice when it comes to recreation.

Understanding your strengths in marriage can help you become a great team.

If you’re not sure where to start, one of us at Play to Your Strengths would love to meet with you. Find out more about our personal coaching options.

Questions to consider

I encourage you to discuss these questions around the office water cooler or home dinner table. You can breathe life into people in your sphere of influence as you ask them to share their thoughts.

  1. When you look at your strengths as a couple, how are you different and how are you the same?

  2. How do your strengths create potential for conflict? Can you think of examples where you had conflicts connected to your differing strengths?

  3. How can you leverage your strengths to be a great team that continues to grow in your love for one another?

BlogRachael Ingersol