Want to banish loneliness from your marriage?
This week, I’d like you to think of your marriage as a treasure hunt, and I’ll offer you some tools for unearthing each other’s talents and helping them to really shine.
If you can do just that for each other, you’ll be quipped to energize your relationship and rediscover the joy of just being together.
Where to begin:
The tools are called, “The Five Clues to Talent,” and they come from the superb research of the Gallup corporation (which owns the CliftonStrengths® assessment I so dearly love).
(One of my favorite Gallup educators, Maika Leibbrandt, writes about the five clues to talent in this printable PDF, here.)
Start with this:
Take some time to drill down on Maika’s five questions, by journaling or discussing them.
They are, roughly:
- If you had a week off from all your commitments and could do anything, what would it be?
- What have you done in the past that you can’t wait to do again?
- What skills come so naturally to you that you have a hard time explaining how to do them?
- What do people tell you you’re good at?
- What activities make time just fly by?
Even as you start to consider these questions for yourself, you’ll be getting better at spotting the clues in your sweetheart.
If God made each talent that we possess, He also loves it, which means that we should love it. And again, if He loves it, it has a purpose that comes from Him–and that purpose also leads us back to Him.
But it might take someone who loves us to come along and notice the signs, point them out, and give us opportunities to develop them further—for God’s greater glory and our joy.
Doing that for the person you love opens up a whole world of understanding and intimacy.
So, we need to be treasure hunters and watch for the signs that the person we love is in the zone, that they’re in a natural state of happiness and capability. They may be “in flow,” to use a popular expression.
There are two important aspects to this treasure-hunt in every marriage:
- Affirm the talent, so it can grow!
- Use the information—forever!
First, when we recognize each other’s giftings, we can call attention to those special capabilities in affirming ways.
For example, let’s start with a CliftonStrengths® talent called, Communication®.
People with Communication® are great with words. They may love to write, may be agile in expressing their thoughts with precision, and may enjoy holding an audience captive, as they recount their favorite stories.
So, imagine your wife makes your guests laugh at the dinner party. (Ah! A sign of talent.) So, what do you do?
You might give her an encouraging smile in front of everyone, then tell her later, “That was so funny. You’re a good storyteller.”
She might get a charge out of the compliment, but she may shrug it off because—while it energized her and gave her pleasure to hold the audience in the palm of her hands—she may not have felt like she was doing anything special because it came naturally to her.
But hang in there; you’re just getting started.
People often resist compliments because they don’t realize that others totally lack some of the capabilities that seem easiest to them. (More on that in a future post about understanding each other’s motivations.)
Perhaps say to her, “Seriously, not many people have the knack you have for bringing home a point or showing the humor in a situation.”
This is not flattery.
And please, please understand I am not suggesting mere compliments. This is not manipulation, either. It should never be about stoking someone’s ego.
It’s simply observing reality in an authentic and direct way. We’re Catholics, so we should rejoice in what is true, and be quick to dwell on anything really good.
St. Paul put it this way:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Romans 4:8)
The big payoff:
It’s important to understand that when a person is acknowledged in a simple and honest way, the truth of it resonates in their being, and they receive a gift they don’t experience nearly enough:
They feel seen and heard.
If we’re being honest, most people, even in marriages and families, are lonely and feel a little invisible or misunderstood. So, this gift of feeling seen and heard has ramifications for the rest of your life together, the ripple effect of which I can’t say enough about.
For love to thrive, we must give this gift as often as possible. So, pray hard for the sensitivity to spot those talents and call them out for the jewels they are. Any time you can make your sweetheart feel seen and heard, you have gently poured blessing into their heart in a powerful and life-giving way.
Also, educate yourself on the talents and how they can help your marriage thrive. (Last week, I recommended one of my favorite books. It’s packed with
insight into this process. (Not an affiliate link.))
So, first is to recognize and affirm the talent.
The second point is that you can keep using this precious data in the future, to grow closer in mutual understanding and in generosity; to have more fun in every area of your relationship; to plan incredibly fulfilling dates that highlight each other’s talents; and even resolve or avoid unnecessary conflicts (stay with the series to learn about these strategies!).
Go ahead. Try spotting each other’s talents and affirming them as good.
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Genesis 1:31)
For instance, if you’ve got a problem solver, give him a problem to solve for you. If you’ve got a learner, ask what she’s learning about. If you’ve got an introvert, give him space for that critical alone time, to allow him to recharge his social batteries without feeling like he’s rejecting you.
And as you notice what comes easily or energizes your sweetheart, make sure they get to do it often. With you or with others. But make sure it happens a lot. They’ll love you for it, and they’ll have more energy and more hope than you’ve probably seen in a while.
Let me know in the comments what you’re trying and how it’s going!
This is just the beginning, so be patient. Anything new is awkward, at first, but give your efforts to God and let Him do the rest.
Next week, I’ll be talking about calling out the best in each other by speaking into each other’s worlds. Yep, strengths-based communication!
See you then!
* NOTE: If you haven’t taken the CliftonStrengths® assessment, it’s a fast-track way to identify yours and each other’s talents, so your observations will automatically arise from a clear framework and shared vocabulary!
Also: I get nothing at all for recommending the CliftonStrengths® assessment or offering my professional discount, but if you’re interested in giving it a try, just email me: [email protected]
Remember: If your marriage is suffering from serious issues, such as the wounds of abuse, addiction, mental illness, or infidelity, you should immediately seek the help of a licensed therapist who supports your values, to get all of the help you need and deserve.
- Episode 12: Pat Molyneaux, Founder of the Human Formation Coalition - July 18, 2022
- Episode 11: Fr. Boniface Hicks, Director of Spiritual Formation, Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, PA - July 13, 2022
- Episode 10: Donna Ottaviano-Britt: Direc. of the Office of Discipleship & Leadership, Camden Diocese - July 4, 2022
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