Walt and I have been happily married for 24 years. He’s the man of my dreams, the love of my life, and my best friend. Does that mean we always get along and agree on everything? Absolutely not! As any married couple would probably admit, it takes more than love to keep a marriage strong. It takes a lot of work on both sides. Walt and I have tried to be purposeful about taking time for each other ~ praying together, enjoying shared interests, being supportive and encouraging when times are difficult, and rejoicing when things are good. But there are times when our communication could be improved.
That’s one of the reasons we decided to take the Birkman Discovery Workshop for Couples. We see the value in seeking new ways to communicate with each other, and in learning to understand our similarities and differences. We were both familiar with the Birkman Method, and how it benefits companies and employees, as well as helping people decide on careers. We also heard from friends how beneficial the six-week workshop for couples had been for their marriages, and we were eager to experience it for ourselves. On top of that, our friend Bob Bolling was teaching the class, and we knew he would make it entertaining and interesting.
At our first class, Bob put everyone at ease by ensuring us that “There’s no right answer.” We had each taken the online Birkman test, which identified our individual strengths, interests, behaviors, and how we relate to others in certain situations. Over the next few weeks, Bob gave us individual reports, which showed our unique personality. He explained how the Birkman shows each of us our interests, usual behavior, motivational needs, and what causes us stress.
The Birkman helped us realize why we are the way we are, and how this impacts the way we behave with each other. Bob reviewed the charts provided for each couple, showing how our results compare to those of our spouse. He also gave examples of how certain scenarios might play out given a couple’s Birkman personalities. There was a lot of laughter and knowing looks between spouses as Bob gave examples of situations couples find themselves in. It was very eye-opening and educational.
Overall, the insight we gained from our Birkman class has definitely enhanced our marriage. It gave us a deeper understanding of ourselves as individuals, and also of each other. Walt and I discovered that we are much more alike in some areas than we ever imagined, and we have learned to appreciate and respect our differences. This new awareness enables us to treat each other with more patience, kindness and interest.
We still don’t claim to have all the answers, but now we feel better equipped to enjoy our life together ~ hopefully for many more happy years. I think Walt would join me in encouraging any couple, at any stage of marriage (including engaged couples) to take this Birkman workshop.
Susan and Walt Agnew