Enneagram and Faith: Has marriage hindered your development?

It’s said that in marriage, opposites attract. 

I used to think that meant people were different in everything- one likes sports, the other likes art, one like parties, the other likes quiet, etc, etc. But lately I’ve been wondering if it has more to do with personality than interests. 

We tend to like to be around people who complement us. People with whom we have enough in common to understand one another, but also people who approach things differently enough to enrich our perspective. This might be true in marriage more than any other relationships.

I’ve been married 15 years now. Long enough to have learned some things, not long enough to have learned it all. I think a lesson I have been learning lately could be relevant to more than just me, so I’m going to share it today. It relates to enneagram, and how marriage effects the development of our centers.

I’ve written here before that enneagram places personality types in three different centers: the gut (our body and instincts), heart (our emotions and relationships), and head (our thinking and reason). Good decisions involve all three centers to some extent, but we each have a tendency to default to one or two above the other(s). 

One key to growth is realizing which center is our default, and consciously stretching the muscles of the other centers in order to find more balance.

I think marriage can inhibit us from developing our weaker centers.

My husband has strong head and gut centers. One of the reasons I love to travel with him is because he’s so good at it. He’s not thrown when things don’t go as planned. He is able to think through a way out, and he has the confidence to ask for or demand what’s needed in the situation. 

In that same situation, my heart center reigns, with my head center close behind, but circling in fear more than in reason. So I let him take the lead. It’s one of his gifts, after all, so why not let him use it?

Marriages often develop roles over time: one person does the dishes, the other mows the lawn, one does the bills, the other cleans the bathroom. I think, if we’re not careful, we develop personality roles, too. Though I do believe in marriage two become one, I don’t think that means we are meant to give up our personhood.

Two individuals moving towards health and wholeness make for a much stronger team.

After all these years with my husband, I am realizing I have an under-developed gut center. I’ve used his strength as an excuse not to find my own. When he is around, I don’t need to stretch that muscle, so I don’t. Ironically, he wishes I would. In fact, it drives him crazy that I don’t have more confidence. The very thing I default to him to take care of is the very thing he wishes I would take more time to develop. He loves me, and he sees how much more balance I would find if I could pull from my gut center when it was needed.

Ignatius saw that there were three ways to come to a decision. One is to prayerfully consider the pros and cons of each option (head center). Another is to notice the feelings we have as it relates to each option (heart center). The last is to notice how we already know what option to move towards, and to simply do it (gut center). All three of those practices are helpful, especially when done in awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in each. 

Knowing that my default is feelings, I need to consciously employ my pro-con list and impulsive side a little more often, and not just count on my husband to do so. I was made to have all three centers available to me. As I learn to access them, I will become stronger, and so will my marriage.

Have you noticed this in your own marriage? What are your ideas for not allowing your partners strengths to halt your own development?


*Since this post is focused on marriage, I am doing another giveaway! This time, of a couples enneagram coaching session. I will help you each understand your types, and think through how your types affects how you relate to one another and how you grow, individually and together. This can be done in person or on Skype if you are not local.

There are 3 ways to enter: 1. Comment on this post. 2. Share this post on social media. 3. Share my enneagram coaching page on social media. You can enter in any or all of the ways. Each way gives you one more chance to win. If you share on social media, make sure to tag @everydayawe on Twitter or Instagram or https://www.facebook.com/everydayawe on Facebook.

This give away closes September 3, 2015. Winner will be chosen at random, and notified by email or social media, depending on how the entry was made.

Good luck!