The Enneagram and My Marriage
I’m Jenn. I’m a 9. If you’re a 6, like my husband, you’re waiting to decide if I’m knowledgeable about the Enneagram until after you hear what I say.
I’m Jenn, and I’m a 9. What Enneagram number are you?
My guess is that if you’re a 2, you’re probably already thinking of friends you want to share this article with. If you’re a 5, you’ve previously done tons of research on your own and plan on comparing what you know to what I have to say.
And if you’re a 6 like my husband, you’re probably waiting to decide if I’m legitimately knowledgeable about the Enneagram until after you’ve heard what I have to say. And even then you may want to see my resume before coming to a final decision. But those are just my guesses.
The Enneagram assessment nailed me as a 9, aka, “the Peacemaker,” or “the Mediator.” Someone who strives for peace and harmony in their life. It’s easy for me to see both sides to an argument, finding the positives in each perspective. I avoid conflict like the plague, and I’m very “go with the flow.”
So yep, safe to say I’ve never felt so understood in my life. I’m totally a 9. In my experience, no other assessment I’d taken held a flame to the Enneagram. And I’ve taken a lot of them. Maybe everyone who was on the Enneagram bandwagon was on there for a good reason after all.
What is the Enneagram?
The word Enneagram breaks down in the Greek to: ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol). One of the best explanations of the personality assessment is taken from Chris Heuertz’s book, The Sacred Enneagram:
“[The Enneagram] explains the ‘why’ of how we think, act, and feel. It helps us come to terms with our gifts as well as the addictive patterns that tether us to our greatest interpersonal, spiritual, and emotional challenges. The Enneagram invites us to deeper self-awareness as a doorway to spiritual growth.”
Heuertz goes on to say, “the Enneagram offers a sacred map for our souls; a map that, when understood, leads us home to our true identity and to God.”
When a 9 marries a 6
For me, one of the biggest impacts of determining my Enneagram type was the understanding it brought to my marriage. It’s no secret how different my husband and I are . The Enneagram helped bring focus and understanding to the intricacy of our differences.
The first time we discussed our Enneagram types it was pretty much like a self-serve counseling appointment. We both simply read the descriptions of each other’s types and kept making huge nods of understanding. It was like the Enneagram peered into our souls and gave each of us the keys to discovering the truth about one another.
Stuart, a loyal 6, is constantly asking questions to gain as much understanding about a topic as possible. He’s the most observant person I know. He’s a planner, doesn’t trust people easily, and struggles with anxiety.
But he is also the most loyal person in my life. (A pretty good characteristic in a spouse, if I say so myself!) I would definitely consider myself loyal, but all those other characteristics are very lost on me. The good news is that’s what makes us a good team!
Now with the help of understanding a 6, I understand that his question asking isn’t because he doesn’t trust my decisions. He is just incredibly inquisitive and thinks of questions long before I mentally get there. I am very trusting and decisively spontaneous almost to a fault. So there are many times when I’m thankful for his, “think-first-then-act” mentality. Given the same circumstance, I may have made a decision too fast.
When a 6 marries a 9
On the flip side, he would be the first person to tell you how thankful he is that I encourage a more flexible attitude in him. I keep life light, airy, and fun and remind him to give people the benefit of the doubt. Where he encourages me to action instead of indifference, I encourage him to trust others and the Lord. Despite being very different, when we understand each other, our personalities end up complementing each other quite well.
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How other pairs work
When reading about the different Enneagram types, it’s interesting to think about what different numbers paired up together in marriage would be like. A 1 (perfectionist) and a 3 (achiever) would probably have to work extra hard at resting and spending time as a family since they’re both “go, go, go” types.
A 9 and an 8 (challenger) would have to be careful the 8 doesn’t walk all over the 9 and still allows that person to have an opinion and a voice.
A 7 (enthusiast) and 5 (investigator) may have a hard time finding a fun activity in common because 5’s like to do a lot of research and learning, whereas 7’s are more adventurous and extroverted. (These are all stereotypical characteristics of the types, so I am aware that there are many outliers to each type that don’t fit into those exact boxes.)
No matter what type you are and what type you’re in relationship with, it takes work to understand the other person and allow them to be exactly who they are. But in my experience, that’s part of the fun, too.
Stuart and I will just look at each other at times and say, “You’re being such a 6.” Or, “Yep, you’re definitely a 9.” But we’ve learned to accept each other while at the same time championing each other to continual growth. It’s a balance.
And isn’t that what we all want out of life and community? We want others to accept us exactly how we are right in this moment. While at the same time encouraged to constantly become a better version of ourselves?
Heuertz writes, “put another way, [the Enneagram] exposes nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, nine ways we can come clean about those illusions, and nine ways we can find our way back to God.” But in order for these things to truly happen, we need to first be honest with ourselves. And that’s not always fun.
As a 9, my sin tendency is comfort. I hate conflict because it’s inharmonious. I tend to remain in the background and out of the spotlight because it’s comfortable.
I’m usually easy going and flexible because stating my opinion might cause conflict. But when my comfort takes top priority in life, it can become an idol. And this can sometimes cause me to become numb to my own life.
Jesus definitely calls us to peace, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15, NIV). However, we are also called to stand up for the Lord, our beliefs, and others. “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
In the same way, Stuart is prone to anxiety and control. Sixes are simply wary of being unprepared. Unprepared for an emergency, unprepared for a change in plans, unprepared for a job responsibility sprung on them at the last minute.
Sure, being prepared is a good thing. But the line of “good” gets murky when someone is so worried about being unprepared they can’t trust the Lord. One of the most well-known verses on trusting the Lord is Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” But chapter 28 goes even further as to say that those who trust in themselves are “fools”(v. 26). That’s a pretty strong word choice!
Still, it’s only a tool
Now, the Enneagram will not save your marriage. It will not cause a personal “road to Damascus” transformation. It is not Jesus. But it is a helpful tool you can use for self-awareness. Combined with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, it can provide a road map for immense personal growth.
But I don’t want you to think I’m saying the Enneagram is the key to life. It’s not. Jesus is the key to life. In Romans 12 Jesus calls us to constantly be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And I believe the Enneagram can be an excellent tool to aid in that transformational experience.
Honestly, a teachable spirit and being okay with seeing your own “muck” is all that’s needed for you to be on the path to a better you. A better wife. A better husband. A better sister. A better friend. A better parent. Knowing your number provides a focused lens in how to grow in a way that is specific to who you are. It’s fabulous.
Copyright © 2019 Jenn Grandlienard. All rights reserved.
Jenn Grandlienard grew up an East Coast Philly girl, but now loves calling the Midwest her home. She lives in Xenia, Ohio with her husband, Stuart, two sons, Knox and Zeke, and pup, Stella. Jenn and her husband work with Athletes in Action, a ministry of Cru that teaches college athletes what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. She loves to read, work out, laugh really hard with friends, and spend time with her husband and boys. You can check out her blog about all these things and more at OurGrandLife.com. Find her on Instagram at @mrsjenngrand and on Facebook.