How The Enneagram Helped My Marriage
The Enneagram is not a diagnosis or a solution for all things. It’s simply a powerful tool for personal and collective transformation. And it will give you a snapshot about who my husband and I are as I share a part of our story. On the Enneagram I am a type three. Marcus, my husband is a type one. These are power numbers that produce a dynamic coalition. Both types are used to working so hard that they often succeed, garnering admiration from those around them and attaining places of leadership and responsibility. Sounds dazzling, right? When healthy it is. We lean hard into impact and excellence. Until trouble comes. When under stress the sparkle fizzles.
We endure as a “professional” marriage. Kinda like two really high-powered CEO’s under one roof. There’s a lot of passion. Not exactly directed toward the right things. But, because it is useful to both parties the two remain for the sake of success. That’s just the data folks. Isn’t it romantic?
This had NEVER been our story. We had experienced the upsides of our dynamic duo. It wasn’t until about four years ago that the stress of life sent us high-tailing into the down sides. Our marriage wasn’t the problem. The problems were the problem. But the lethal combination of some major disappointments, self-criticism at its finest, wrongful accusations and a lurking sadness caught us in some marital challenges we had never experienced before.
• We had been emotionally discouraged, physically exhausted – just overwhelmed.
• It’s all frankly the culmination of a lot of HUGE pressures all coming to bear at once. Planting a church and ministering to a growing group of people. I had grown a business from scratch as an entrepreneur. And all while doing our best to raise four amazing kids
• We’d come through a hard time, each in our own way. We’ve sometimes been more fragile. We’ve been sometimes the recipient of harsh words and attack. We’ve been afraid. We’ve experienced relationship losses and life was just hard.
• We’d been in a storm.
Life can be that way. And so we needed new tools, fresh resources and added support to stay anchored in this time of trouble. With a little more desperation and a heightened dependence we reached for help. It was just time to roll up our sleeves and sink the roots in a little deeper. The end result would be a tree that grew much bigger and stronger. The process was just a little dirtier as we discovered the road between us.
1. We surrendered.
That beginning posture started with a yielding to God boldly confessing we needed help. That cry led us to seek out Godly counselors who guided us individually through a rich road of personal awareness and healing. This was a new step and unknown for my husband. And an unguarded one for me.
2. We submitted.
Yes, to each other. But mostly to the process. We committed to grow through that which we were going through. We opened our hearts and minds setting our egos and old ways aside. This allowed God to do something new. He was making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wastelands.
3. We were surrounded.
We both found our people. He got honest with a couple of dudes. And I learned vulnerability with a small crew of girls. This was just being authentic about where we were and where we wanted to be. It was sharing our burden so they could carry the load as Christ always intended. In those circles we found hope. Felt healing and discovered new meaning in the word community of faith.
4. We shared.
We shared in our journals. Seems simple, but the exercise of writing through emotions, doubts, rants and dreams was therapy in itself. It allowed us to sit in, and work through our troubles. This was actually new for both of us. We also shared with each other. We made the commitment to openly communicate about our personal discoveries, fears, past pains and future hopes. We have always talked a lot. But the new depth of unearthing personally led to a new conversation that led to incredible intimacy. Better than ever.
The harder season gave me a softer heart. The long suffering gave me a more loving heart. My roots grew deeper and my love for Marcus is much stronger. It’s better after worse.