Let’s Talk: How to Use SWOT to Improve Your Marriage

On this episode of The SavvyCast, my husband Zane  shares how SWOT can be a useful tool for improving marriage and other important relationships. 

What is SWOT?

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and the SWOT model is used in most businesses. The concept can also be applied to other entities as well, such as marriage, a business partnership, a friendship and more. The model below shows the 4 elements of SWOT.

S.W.O.T. assessment

How to use S.W.O.T. to assess your marriage.

Follow the steps below with your spouse, and be honest in your answers. When you share weaknesses, it is wise to share YOUR weaknesses in the marriage and let your spouse share his/hers. Remember that the weaknesses you are zeroing in on are the ones that directly affect your marriage.

Pinpoint Your Strengths

Strengths are internal, positive attributes of your marriage. These are things that are within your control and that you and your spouse can build upon to make a strong marriage even stronger. Below are a few things that Zane and I consider strengths in our marriage. You and your spouse might have similar strengths or very different ones. This is where using SWOT is so helpful. Some questions below will help you discover specific strengths in your relationship.

  • What areas of our marriage are working well? (i.e. goals, conversation, problem solving)
  • What things do we have in common that we enjoy?  (i.e. skills, hobbies, friends, interests)
  • What unique differences make us “better together”?

Here are some of the strengths that Zane and I found in our marriage: a shared spiritual world view (Christian faith);  mutual desire for personal growth; ability to use humor in conflict;  mutually goal oriented and focused,; both love marriage growth and marriage ministry; mutual love of entertaining; enjoy conversation; shared philosophy of money; similar parenting philosophy. Different enneagram types (3 and 8) are helpful in building couple relationships and setting boundaries.

Pinpoint Your Own Weaknesses

Weaknesses are negative factors that detract from or weaken the marriage. The weaknesses that each person brings to the marriage must first be recognized and then improved. Here are some questions to help each person discover weaknesses that he or she brings to the relationship.

  • Are there some limiting aspects that I bring to marriage?  Examples could be a health condition,  a financial issue, aging parents, grueling work schedule, etc…..
  • Are there personality traits that tend to cause problems in the marriage? (i.e. am I selfish, critical, harsh, passive aggressive, lazy, whiny, nagging, etc…).
  • Are there any harmful issues that need immediate attention? (i.e. an addiction, an affair, an inappropriate or dangerous relationship, friends who aren’t “for” the marriage, etc…….

Zane and I listed as some of our weaknesses: we are both driven by distractions; we are both very independent; we have different temperaments and communication styles;   we have different love languages; we have different enneagram types that make for some difficulties too deep to explain here.

Find Opportunities for Becoming Better

Opportunities are external factors in your marriage that can make the relationship better or stronger. Opportunities are often ushered in during new seasons of life or transitions in work.

  • Are there people who can make us better together? Examples might be new friends, hobbies, church relationships, etc…
  • Are there upcoming events or seasons that can give us time or resources to grow better? (i.e. empty nest, retirement, new career, business opportunity, etc….)

Zane and I have opportunities with a soon to be empty nest. We will have more time to minister together and nurture positive relationships and couple friendships. We will also have more time to focus on each other and start a hobby together. Zane will be more involved with my business goals, and I will also start traveling more with him.

Find Potential Threats in the Marriage

Threats are external factors that can tear your marriage down or break it apart. Recognizing the threats will help us all protect our marriages and set boundaries in place. Here are some questions to ask to help identify potential threats.

  • Am I practicing independent behavior that my spouse dislikes or that weakens our marriage? (i.e. separate friend groups, separate pursuits, separate spending habits?
  • Am I holding secrets or engaging in secretive behavior? Examples might be a relationship that is posing a danger to the marriage, conversations with someone that are out of bounds, online risks such as pornography, conversing with old flames on social media, etc….
  • Are we facing hardships that will make marriage harder? Financial crisis, health crisis, wayward child, another man/woman, etc…..

A few threats that Zane and I found in our marriage revolved around independent pursuits, not traveling together, and  letting busyness and distraction make us both susceptible to outside temptation.

Verbalize your plan of action.

Once you use SWOT to assess your marriage in all 4 areas, verbalize to one another your action plan. Each of you will speak out loud to the other specific ways YOU will change or contribute to make the marriage better. Verbalizing these makes it more real, and writing them done solidifies them even more.

Some examples of plans of action might be the following:

  • I will travel with you more.
  • I will soften my harsh tone during an argument.
  • I will initiate sex more often rather than leaving that to you.
  • I will stop talking to this person who is a danger to our relationship.
  • I will always wear my wedding band and speak well of you in public.
  • I will support you in front of the kids (and disagree with you behind closed doors).

There are many more ways we can verbalize a plan of action. Just remember that your plan of action is what YOU plan to do, so you will use “I will…….” statements.

Use SWOT in Any Other Important Relationship

This SWOT assessment can be used in any other important relationship. Just go through the steps and plug in the relationship you are working in. Instead of marriage, it might be child. Parent. Business partner. Friend. Etc….

If you use SWOT in any of these ways, we would love to hear back from you! If you will share your thoughts, experiences or feedback in the comments below, we can all see how this works in real relationships. Relationships are hard, and they take work. But they are worth it. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

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