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Understanding and utilizing the Enneagram has been one of the best tools for transformation in our marriage.
Through knowing our individual types, our stress and security responses and the way we see the world, we have been able to resolve conflict, grow as a couple and connect on a deeper level relationally.
You may be very familiar with the Enneagram, you know the ins and outs of your own type and try to type each person you meet. Or you may be thinking ‘the ennea what? Is it a pentagram symbol?’
Looking back, so much about the early days of our marriage now makes sense.
We had a working knowledge of the Enneagram and our individual types but as we have come to learn about ourselves and each other, we have been able to identify motivations, patterns and how we see and interpret the world that previously led to misunderstanding and conflict.
The gift of the Enneagram has transformed our marriage in 3 key ways & has given us a deeper connection through compassion and empathy and by understanding one another.
Learning Your Type
Introduced to the Enneagram in high school, it didn’t take long for me to identify my type.
At the time, I was in counseling for an eating disorder and was very unhealthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That season magnified the shadow side of my type 8-ness.
Through my journey of recovery and into adulthood, learning my type has been a powerful way of refining, sharpening and propelling me forward physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Learning your type is a journey and a process. Be kind and patient with yourself in it. Some people spend months, even years, trying to narrow down which type they are while others know pretty quickly.
One of the telling ways people discover their type is when they hear or read something that speaks so clearly and profoundly to the shadow side of their type (the sin nature, the negative aspects, the unhealthy behaviors, etc) and with a deep pit in their stomach think ‘shit, that’s totally me.’
Don’t let that moment discourage you but instead let it be an assurance that you have the self awareness and moxie this journey of knowing yourself and growing takes.
Read, observe and never stop learning about yourself. If you are continually growing personally, your relationships and marriage cannot and will not plateau or regress.
2. Asking questions to keep learning
If you’ve been in a relationship past the honeymoon phase you know all too well that eventually the once stimulating conversations where you ask a million questions and learn fascinating things about your other half, eventually dissolves into mundane routines.
When that natural shift happens and you fall into a rhythm of life together, it's easy to quit asking questions and continuing to learn.
About a year into our marriage, we had fallen into our rhythm of life and I quit asking questions about my husband. I no longer was actively learning about him, who he was and why he was the way he was.
When this happened I started making assumptions and drawing conclusions.
Assuming that he was being lazy rather then simply forgetting to take the trash out. Drawing conclusions that his work must be more important than me because his meetings were running late and he was taking phone calls over the weekend.
Understanding my husband's enneagram type has stopped me from making assumptions and drawing conclusions and instead asking questions to continue learning about him.
Asking questions and learning has been one of the surest ways to create connection even when we may be frustrated with one another. It lowers our defenses and requires that we approach the other with humility and inquisitiveness.
We have been together for twelve years and married for six and I can truly say that each day I wake up and learn more fascinating, amazing, maddening and beautiful things about that wonderful man.
3. Do Your Own Work
Relationships are both parts beautiful and messy. Marriage is a magnifier of the best and worst parts about each party.
It’s easier to jump on the other person's side of the street, make an assessment of all that is wrong, everything that needs attention and make recommendations on how they go about fixing it.
But that is their work, not ours.
The most positive change occurs in my marriage when I stop holding the magnifying glass up to my husband and start holding the mirror up to myself.
He has his work and I have my work. Mine is mine to do and that is where my attention needs to be focused. There is work to be done in our marriage no doubt, but that work directly pertains to the vows we made to one another and that is work we do together.
The Enneagram gives us an individual growth path.
It gives you a pathway to wholeness and the work is directly yours to do. Following that pathway will transforms your marriage because you are being transformed through that work.
Brand new to the enneagram?
Wondering what type you are?
Looking for grow personally & relationally utilizing the enneagram?