Strengths Based Marriage: Build A Stronger Relationship By Understanding Each Other’s Gifts, by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Admittedly, as an unmarried reader, I am not precisely the ideal audience for this book, although from reading it I can get a sense that this book would be a handy little volume for couples seeking marriage counseling, especially if both parties involved were interested in personality theory. The book reads like a slightly salesy combination of a book in the Strengths Finder series  or a volume on marriage or premarital counseling for potentially mismatched partners . This makes sense, given that the book is co-written by someone who works as a consultant on Strengths and another writer who happens to be a marriage counselor who managed to with a great deal of effort claw his own marriage back from the threat of divorce. If reading about ways that couples with very different strengths/talents can manage to communicate successfully with each other and find passion and romance in their marriage through understanding each other and responding thoughtfully sounds fun or worthwhile to you, this will likely be a good book.
This book is straightforward to the point of being somewhat basic and repetitive, as if the authors were writing to people who were a little bit slow on the uptake and who needed frequent reminders to go out and get the strengths test done for themselves and their spouse or needed five “secrets” for successful marriages one after another. In less than 200 pages, the authors manage to take a very straightforward path from a discussion of strengths and counterfeits to tips on stopping the cycles of pain and the healing journey that marriage can offer to tormented souls, speaking love to your spouse’s heart by responding to their needs and learning how to communicate with love and graciousness, and learning the secrets to a successful marriage that help marriage be great, strong, happy, a dream, and passionate. These four sections include seventeen chapters and plenty of very basic advice as well as plenty of anecdotes from the authors about their own marriages. This book presents few barriers to being understood by a wide audience, and is not written in a way that makes too many demands on the reader.
That said, readers will most likely appreciate this book if they do not mind the authors’ hard sell about getting a Strengths Finder Assessment done. Those who do not appreciate the approach will likely find this book a bit difficult to get into because it continually pushes the Strengths Finder Test as being important for better understanding one’s spouse, and not everyone is likely to be appreciative of that mindset. Those who are already fond of the Strengths Finder approach will find this book less of a hard sell because one has already been sold, but on the other hand the book may come off as being somewhat basic. The authors, as a result, have put themselves in a delicate spot where some readers will likely want far more than the authors are willing or able to give in terms of counsel and guidance about how best to make a relationship work and other readers will be put off by the authors’ pushiness about selling consultative services for Strengths finding. It is the sweet spot in the middle where the reader is not too aware of what is being sold nor is too bothered about being sold a product where the author is aiming. Despite not being in this sweet spot myself, I wish them the best of luck–the advice, basic as it is, that is included here is certainly worthwhile advice to take.
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