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The Enneagram and Relationships

Prior to about a couple months ago, I was a die-hard fan of the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory. I would frequently ask my clients (especially my couples) to take a test online at www.16personalities.com for free and bring the results into their next session to discuss together. I found them highly insightful and helpful in encouraging couples to understand not only themselves, but their partners better. My husband (INTJ) and I (INFP) would reference our types a lot in our marriage when we would hit an impasse as a way of saying, “Hey, remember who you are talking to. This FP can’t handle your TJ energy right now.”

Until recently, that was all I used. Then I came across the book THE ROAD BACK TO YOU by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Now, I am officially an Enneagram convert. I have bought in to the whole shebang of how it rates people’s personalities. Where the MBPI seems to highlight strengths, I feel (and please remember this is just my opinion) the Enneagram highlights some of the more “uncomfortable” parts of ourselves. But not in a negative way at all… more in a way that encourages growth and self-awareness.

I am an Enneagram 9 with a 1 wing. Put simply, I am a “Peacemaker” with Perfectionist tendencies. 9’s are innate procrastinators, but drawing from the 1 wing helps them with focus so they can accomplish more, thus enhancing confidence (which 9’s desperately need). In reading this book, the description of a 9 that stood out to me the most, that made me the most uncomfortable, was that 9’s do not think of themselves as being very important. I have always wanted to live in the shadows because I felt “There’s nothing to see here”. Which is probably confusing to some because I was a theatre major and live for being on the stage. But guess what? Sherry isn’t on the stage. Sherry puts on a character and can be whoever you need her to be. That isn’t scary to me at all. But asserting myself AS myself? That can be terrifying.

My husband is an Enneagram 8, a “Challenger”. Think about that. A Peacemaker and a Challenger have been married for 16 years. How did we survive? Challengers welcome opposition. They can be blunt and aggressive, untrusting, with a tough exterior. But they have tender hearts and will fight to the death to protect those they love. Honestly, they LOVE to fight. But what a Challenger might consider a tiny little disagreement, a 9 will feel is a knock down, drag out. When my husband read my personality type, he got emotional and said to me, “It must be so hard for someone like you to be married to someone like me.” While I had to be honest and admit that yes, it IS sometimes difficult, it is also beautiful. He gives me strength, and I give him patience. He gives me courage, and I give him kindness. We complement each other in such a beautiful way, and through years of hard work and never giving up, we found a way to be stronger together because of our personalities as opposed to in spite of them.

It is never too late to learn more about your partner and yourself. Find what works for you and dig into it. And when you think you’ve hit the bottom, dig deeper. For me and my husband, the Enneagram exploration we have been on has been a wonderful “uncovering” of things we ultimately knew about one another, but shined a light on them in a way that resonated on a much deeper lever. And for us, that is invaluable.


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