How the Enneagram can Help your Christian Marriage
J and I got married in March of 2018, so we are in year three of marriage. But we joke all the time that it already feels like we barely knew each other on our wedding day, because we have grown so much as a couple since then.
When we first started our married life, we began getting to know each other even better than we did as friends, and as a couple prior to marriage. We were learning about each other at a more rapid pace, and we also learned about the enneagram at the same time. We tell others about the enneagram often, because the enneagram in relationships is a helpful tool.
Here’s why I encourage understanding the enneagram in relationships.
The enneagram will give your marriage...
1. Language for Conversations
When we got married, we started to fight. Say what. I know, it’s crazy. We got in maybe like two fights the entire time we dated, and the things we fought about during our life together dating just got more heated in marriage. When you’re married, you start to get to know every part of the other person.
You get to say, “I see the best in you and I see the worst in you and I’m choosing to love both of those parts of you.” But you also get to walk on the path of sanctification with another human, and that often means when you share those worst parts with someone, they get to call you to something higher.
The enneagram became a healthy and easy way for us to talk through things that sometimes aren’t super fun or easy to talk through. Instead of sounding accusatory or finding fault in the other person, we could use the language of the enneagram as a guide to walk through those tougher topics.
Because we both knew and understood the enneagram, it became a healthy way for us to engage in conversations about our personalities without it being offensive or hurtful.
Instead, we were both inviting one another toward growth and learning to understand the other person better through the context of the enneagram.
2. Understanding of Key Motivations
Understanding the enneagram can help you understand those weird things that your spouse does, because instead of seeing the strange behavior and asking yourself, “why?” you can actually get to the root of it and see what is motivating them.
Early on in our marriage, Jackson made the choice to stay at work super late, and didn’t tell me when he was coming home. As time passed, and I kept waiting for him, I was getting more and more angry. I had made a frozen pizza for dinner (nothing fancy) and I finally ate pizza by myself waiting for him. When he got home, he acted as if nothing had happened and heated up his pizza. For us, this became a super memorable conversation about our motivations because we both knew our enneagram number.
Jackson is a 3, often known as the achiever. He felt like he was obligated to stay at work to achieve this task, even though that meant coming home hours late. He also felt like he couldn’t communicate with me about it, because he was so drawn to the task at hand, he felt like nothing could happen until the task was complete. I’m a 7, and so I didn’t care if it was frozen pizza for dinner or a five-star restaurant date night, I just wanted my husband home to enjoy the experience of eating dinner together and to have company.
We talked about what we could both do to communicate better moving forward, but also, we understood how different our key motivations were.
The hurt and confusion we cause our spouse’s can often be more easily understood when we’re able to understand the motivations behind the actions.
3. Empathy Toward Basic Fears and Childhood Wounds
The enneagram can also bring a lot of revelation and enlightenment toward your spouse’s basic fears and childhood wound. Understanding what your spouse is afraid of, and what your spouse’s childhood wound is, can help you to have more empathy and also to simple love them better.
I know J’s childhood wound is rooted in a belief that he is only loved based on his accomplishments. As his wife, I get to love him in a way that isn’t conditional, or based on his accomplishments and constantly speak into and love him based on who he is, not what he does. For him, this can be really redemptive, and for me, it’s honoring and glorifying God.
For me, my childhood wound is that I believe I have to take care of myself, and that no one will take care of me. J gets to speak into that and redeem that with the power of the Holy Spirit by reminding me that I am taken care of, and I don’t have to take care of myself.
In marriage, we often get to see some of the darkest and most difficult things our spouse has to walk through, and having a way to understand and walk through those fears and wounds can be incredibly helpful.
One of the most common complaints about the enneagram is that people think it will put them into a box, or they don’t find it helpful. We are all individuals, uniquely created by God, but the enneagram can help provide some insight into your spouse. You won’t fit every stereotype, and there’s always more to learn about the complexities of the enneagram, but you might find it helpful in these ways in your marriage like we did!
Marriage is a lifelong journey of learning the ins and outs of another person, so I think the enneagram can be a great place to start.
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