Book Review: Strengths Based Marriage {by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey}

Book review on Strengths Based Marriage on

If you’ve ever worked with me, you’re probably aware that I absolutely love StrengthsFinder (SF). Even after leading classes, coaching individuals and using it in the workplace for years, I still believe it to be one of the most powerful tools out there.

Summarizing a whole lot of details for the sake of keeping this review short, there is an assessment that provides a list, in order, of your specific talent themes — where your natural gifts are. The reason this is so powerful is, once you know someone else’s results and what makes them tick, you can adjust how to respond to them, you can adjust how you think about them and you can simply better understand where they are coming from.

For example, in a past job, I began requiring the SF assessment to be taken by missionary applicants I was preparing for the field. Since I worked specifically with finances, a difficult subject for some to discuss, I approached fundraising discussions drastically different from one person to the next, depending on how their brain works as shared with me by SF.

For that same organization, I maintained a very large spreadsheet detailing all sorts of data based on our SF results for over 100 employees. This enabled any person at any time to be able to see their teammates’ strengths and how best to work with them.

All that to say, my husband and I have discussed SF so many times but never so deeply in the context of our marriage until I read this book. Strengths Based Marriage helps us learn truths about each other that we may have never known, which can be incredibly healing to any marriage.

“If you can see your spouse’s actions through a strengths lens, then you can better understand your spouse’s motivations and recognize the corresponding rewards of his or her actions.” –Allan Kelsey

The book is organized into four main sections:

  1. Introduction to Strengths
  2. Stopping the Cycles of Pain
  3. Speaking Love to Your Spouse’s Heart
  4. Secrets of Successful Marriages

Within each section are several short chapters — all of which have words from each author. Jimmy Evans as the marriage expert, and Allan Kelsey as the Strengths expert, combine their teaching to bring together great points that will help anyone’s marriage improve.

One of my favorite sections — which is probably one of the most difficult — is about serving. They talk about how to meet your spouse’s needs first before even wishing your needs were being met. “To succeed in marriage you have to meet needs you don’t have. This requires a servant’s heart.” Just knowing your spouse’s SF results can help you understand what his or her needs are, without even talking to them…but of course discussing these things together on a regular basis is always recommended. 😉

But further than that, the book describes the ultimate example of this. “The strongest example of redemptive love is Jesus. He died for us before we were doing the right thing.” This makes it pretty clear to me that we are called to serve our spouses, to love and to cherish them and to focus on their strengths without ever expecting anything in return.

Strengths Based Marriage, in general, provides many tools to encourage communication, intimacy and a stronger relationship with your spouse. It was helpful to me to write out all 34 of my husband’s and my SF themes on the last blank page — I regularly referred to it.

Honestly, it’s not the best written book — probably the weakest in all the SF publications as far as grammar, fluidity and professionalism — but there were enough gems in it to easily warrant 4 out of 5 stars. Part of the choppiness was due to there being two authors, but even with that, there were several instances in which the same idea or even the same sentence was repeated. It felt like they were so passionate about applying SF to marriage (and mostly successfully!) that they rushed the book a little too much. The ending was quite abrupt. Maybe they were on a deadline, I don’t know, but that’s my only complaint. Overlook those things and you’ll get so much out of the book.

“…the reason marriage hurts us is because we do it wrong. I truly believe if we relate to our spouses properly, marriage is a healing journey that gets better over time.” –Jimmy Evans

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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