I feel the need to begin this post with a heartfelt thank you to the people who have figured me out and learned how to walk through life with me. You know who you are.
I’m a challenging individual. I come across as confident, but I am incredibly insecure. I enjoy change, but making decisions is hard for me. I am organized, but procrastination is a huge part of getting me the pressure I need to succeed. I am honest, but I am afraid of hurting others. I love helping, but I worry I’m not helpful enough.
Perhaps I’m not challenging in comparison to anyone else. Maybe this is all of us. A mixed bag of quirks that define and mold us into individuals.
It’s no wonder then, that we would struggle to love and to be loved well.
We need strategies for self and other care to help us navigate these waters and see each other well. We need the ability to laugh at and to take seriously these fascinating components that make each of us up.
The most pressing area I need this kind of understanding is in my family. My husband and I have two kids. A daughter, Jemma, who is 2. A son, Milo, who is 7 months old. They are not even past the toddler stage yet – and their compilation of traits is already apparent and challenging to navigate! They are SO different.
Then there is their dad. My wonderful, humble, strong, smart, and deeply slothful husband and friend, Gabriel. My high school sweetheart. The Enneagram type 9 who stole this 2s heart and never gave it back.
I want to take some time to delve into the ways that the Enneagram typing system (see previous post for more info on this) has become a gift and a tool that is aiding our marriage and family dynamics.
Gabe is a 9 wing 1.
I am a 2 wing 3.
Gabe is a peacemaker, who works hard not to stir the pot and could not care less about recognition – sometimes to a fault.
I am a serving-achiever who desperately wants to be noticed and appreciated – sometimes to a fault.
For the 10 years we have been together, we have learned time and time again that our differences are both a beautifully important part of growing as individuals and a frustratingly painful reminder of our shortcomings for each other.
We are different. Very different. There is no question.
The Enneagram has been giving us strategies and vocabulary to handle these differences with tact and grace and a good laugh.
As much as it is a tool for self growth and understanding, it is a gift to relationships when used correctly. In the growing of self, we can learn to love, respect, and accept others better.
So, for us – this tool has done five things.
- Given names to our extreme differences. Names that lend understanding and insights into the areas we each struggle.
- Forced conversation about concepts and struggles otherwise avoided or neglected.
- Grown the love we have for each other’s strengths. They are there in abundance, and this tool helps to recognize and expound on them.
- Produced grace for each other’s weaknesses. When named and understood, it is so much easier to extend grace to weakness.
- Helped us to think about our thinking, our processing, and our actions in relation to this typing system.
Moving forward, my goal is to research and learn how to apply the Enneagram process to all areas of my life. I often find myself in internal and sometimes external conflict because my emotional sensors and responses are so high. It’s challenging to navigate this and to know when self care looks like hashing things out or letting them go.
This is an interesting dynamic between Gabe and I. Everything I have read about the type 9 suggests that they are the least in tune to their emotions. They rely heavily on their physicality rather than their heart to guide them. So, where I have emotional responses to just about everything – Gabe rarely (if ever) responds in this way.
You can see where some obvious issues would arise. The challenge is to navigate my emotions healthily, while honoring the fact that it is OKAY for Gabe not to respond the same way. He is capable of helping me dig in to my emotional responses in a healthy way – sometimes by encouraging me to let them go, other times by confronting them and digging deep. I am capable of encouraging Gabe to push past the slothful tendencies and dig past the surface to what he really feels about a situation.
We need each other. The differences help us to be better. The weaknesses and strengths we each have can be tools for better lives, when we raise our awareness and understanding of each other.
I’m so thankful for this tool that is at our fingertips.
Stay tuned for more blogging on the Enneagram as I dig in further.
Some great resources I am using:
- The Typology Podcast with Ian Morgan.
- The Sleeping at Last Podcast series on the Enneagram.
- The Enneagram Institute (specifically the relationship combos!)
Don’t be afraid to learn about yourself. You are unique and important and there is nothing wrong with hashing out all of the things that make you, you.
Whether you have a spouse or a significant other – this is for you! It is a huge aid in relationships period. Most importantly, it is about self care, self love, and self awareness.
Let me know what you find! I would love to dialogue with you about it if you have comments, questions, etc…
You know where to find me :).
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*Photos by the incredible Hailey Anne Photography