I took the test more than two years ago, and wanted Zac to take it too. He isn't really one for tests. Like, at all. I finally just bought him the book in October of last year, thinking he would take it more seriously once it was an actual possibility. And then I just gently reminded him about it pretty much every night.
So, he took it. In February. Yeah, it only took five months of
The hard part about this story is how I felt when I saw his strengths. I felt like the worst wife in the history of the world. Not only would I not have pegged some of them as his strengths, there were a few that I honestly didn't think I saw in him at all.
I sent them to our friend Diane who is a certified strengths coach, and she was able to reassure me. She and her husband were our mentor couple during our pre-marriage work, and she said she could see all of them easily. The verdict? My nose was touching the picture frame, so I couldn't see the picture. I needed to step back and really examine our relationship and Zac's role in it to see his strengths.
There are 34 strengths total, and we don't share any of them. It's actually pretty rare to have too many in common with someone you care about. Diane (my life coach friend) and I have three, which is almost unheard of.
Here are Zac's top 5:
- Consistency. People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
- Adaptability. People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
- Maximizer. People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
- Empathy. People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
- Harmony. People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
I saw consistency right away - Zac is all about things being fair and equal. Adaptability was an easy one, too. He is the king of adaptability - and thank goodness, because you know that I am not. His adaptability is probably the number one reason we work as a couple. Harmony was easy for me to see, also.
What I didn't see so much? Empathy. There are so many times it seems like he doesn't understand me. Diane's explanation? I only notice the times he doesn't seem to understand me - not the millions of times everyday that he does. Also, Zac's not a big feelings talker, but that's not what empathy is. When people he loves are upset, he's genuinely bothered by it and feels what they're feeling. Just because he doesn't talk about it doesn't mean he isn't feeling it.
The other one that wasn't clear at first was maximizing, and now his maximizing is controlling my life. I don't know how I never noticed before, but he's really a perfectionist. If he can't do it perfectly, he won't do it at all. Which explains why I eat restaurant quality meals he prepares every night, the radiator cover in our bedroom is perfect (even if it took three weeks to build), and he wants to sweep the patio every single night.
People's strengths can also be things that drive you crazy about them. Zac never wants to pick what we're having for dinner - which can be annoying. In reality, it's probably because his harmony strength is so high and he seeks to avoid conflicts. We've been able to integrate the strengths terms into our regular vocabulary, and you'll now sometimes hear us saying things like, "I'm just maximizing."
In case you can't tell, this has been a really cool experience for us. To clarify, on a scale of 1 - 10, I'm at a 52 and Zac is about a 6, but honestly, that's where we live for most things. It's a balance, and somehow, it works!
Oh, and my entire family should plan on getting this for the next gift giving occasion. Woo hoo - Christmas will be fun this year!!