About a year ago, we started to explore this new thing called the Enneagram. Like most people, we thought it would be a fun personality assessment similar to the Meyers-Briggs 16 Personalities test. Many of our friends had been raving about the Enneagram, so our intention was to take the test, share the results, and then just move on with our lives.
Fast forward to today, we have several books about the Enneagram in marriage and almost daily reference something new we’ve learned and how it applies to our marriage.
On a basic level, the Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The Enneagram describes nine different personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another. (truity.com)
To find your Enneagram type, take the free test.
We won’t get into all of the details about the Enneagram in this blog post, but we wanted to share 5 ways we’ve used the Enneagram to grow and impact our marriage. You don’t have to be an Enneagram expert to use the system and apply it to your marriage.
1. It’s grown our individual self-awareness
Marriage requires a lot of self-awareness. It challenges you to take a deep look at yourself and brings to the surface all of your fears, doubts, challenges, desires, limits, emotional health, and so much more.
If you lack self-awareness in marriage, you’ll find yourself falling into unhealthy patterns over and over again. Your marriage will be stuck.
The Enneagram helps us first look at our own personality type and identify healthy, average, and unhealthy levels within ourselves.
Here’s an example: as an Enneagram 9 (“The Peacemaker”), I’ve learned I can have a tendency to withdraw from conflict because I strongly desire to have peace and unity in our home. So when things get a bit tense, I tend to shut off and try to process what’s happening internally.
Because I know that about myself, I’m able to take the necessary steps to stay engaged in conflict or hard conversations. I’m able to ask Kyler if we can take a timeout and come back to the conversation after I’ve had a chance to process it, which helps me stay engaged in the conflict, but also allows me a chance to think through it (Enneagram 9s also tend to be internal processors).
In addition to helping us with things like conflict and communication, growing your self-awareness will also help you with self-care. When you’re aware of what you need and desire, you’re able to have the freedom to take care of yourself and know exactly what you need and when you need it.
2. It’s helped us understand each other
We bring a lifetime of baggage, experiences, and “stuff” into marriage. These things are incredible because they shape the person we are. During marriage (and even during engagement), you’ll spend a lot of time learning about your spouse and understanding the dynamics of that relationship. The Enneagram is a tool that will not only help you know more about yourself, it will also help you know and understand each other better, too.
Here’s an example of what I mean: Kyler is an Enneagram 3 (“The Achiever”). He works hard and gets “in the zone” while he’s working on a big project. As a 3, one of his pet peeves is when someone interrupts that focus. Because he works from home, it’s easy for me to just want to pop my head in and say hi to him or talk to him about something random. But now I know that can frustrate him as an Enneagram 3. Instead, I’ll send him a text and ask him if I can come in and talk. This helps him feel understood and loved.
3. It’s increased our connection
Every personality type has a unique connection and intimacy with other types. For example, if a 1 marries a 7, that relationship will look a lot different than if a 1 marries an 8. Understanding the dynamics of that relationship is important to building a strong connection with your spouse.
In the book, Enneagram in Love, Stephanie Barron Hall gives thorough and detailed explanations for how each type relates to others. When you know your and your partner’s type, you can grab a copy of that book and learn more about how your combination will play into your intimate relationship.
Now that Ky and I understand how our types are interwoven, we’re able to better understand our desires, fears, plans, and doubts as a couple. Naturally, that’s increased our connection as we know our relationship better.
4. It’s aligned us with The Gospel
This one might sound a bit weird, but hear me out. Learning how God uniquely wired both of us has helped us to align our marriage with the Gospel. After all, God didn’t intend for us to be the same! Learning these intricate details about ourselves has drawn us closer to God’s extravagant plan for our marriage.
Beth McCord from Becoming Us says it well: Learn how Christ meets your needs (not your spouse) so you can align your marriage with the Gospel. This will allow you to truly experience God working in your heart and your marriage.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Sure, you could try to lock arms with your spouse and go at life alone, but why? The Bible tells us that when we center our marriage on Christ, we’re going to be able to face any challenges that come our way and step into the fullness of what God has for our marriage.
Understanding our Enneagram types and how God has created both of us has drawn us closer to Him.
5. It’s helped us identify potential pitfalls
Having a deep knowledge of our marriage and our own personality types has helped us identify potential pitfalls and where we might get stuck. Both of us separately are susceptible to hitting some bumps in the road, and that’s even more true in our marriage together. Knowing your Enneagram type can help you to identify these challenges before they arise so you have a plan to tackle them. It allows us to press into our differences and our similarities and turn weaknesses into strengths.
Here’s an example of what I mean: As a 9, I’m comfortable in the spotlight, but I don’t seek it out. If I’m not careful, I can stay quiet and not speak up for myself. On the other hand, Ky as a 3 is decisive and able to move quickly to get things done. If he’s not careful, he can overpower our communication. Since we know that about our marriage, Ky does a great job of empowering me to speak up and ensure my voice is heard. I also make an intentional effort to share my opinions and thoughts more readily.
Again, you don’t have to be an Enneagram expert to find value in this personality typing system. But you can use it to grow your self-awareness, understand each other better, increase your connection, align your marriage with The Gospel, and identify potential pitfalls.
What’s your type? What’s your partner’s type? How has that impacted your relationship? Send us a DM on Instagram @loveyourfirstyear! We’d love to hear from you.