Recently we had a great Awesome Marriage Podcast series on the Enneagram. We only learned about the Enneagram in the past 2 years of our 16-year marriage. We really could have used the help in those earlier years! It’s probably the most helpful tool we’ve found in understanding one another’s very different “factory settings.”
For me, one of the most challenging things about being married to a Type 8 is his future orientation. (And vice-versa – as a Type 4, I’m naturally past-oriented. He’s a total go-getter, while I have a hard time finding my “get-up-and-go.”) I also came from a family populated primarily by past-oriented types. There was a fair amount of friction around this difference, though we did not have the language for it before the Enneagram.
In my family of origin, one of our favorite pastimes was watching old family videos together. On holidays we’d pile on the couch and re-watch the same sacred film: All the old Christmases, birthdays and special occasions we had recorded from my sisters’ and my childhood. Every re-watching was more special than before as we’d anticipate certain highlights, and even quote ourselves as we watched ourselves!
When Brian and I were engaged, we spent a sunny summer day with my family, swimming and playing in the waterway of our beach town. It was one of the first full days we’d spent together with my family, and it was tons of fun! That evening as the sun set, we all settled in to the comfy couch, naturally. Much to Brian’s surprise, we were all eager to watch the new family videos we’d recorded throughout the day. “But…,” he looked from me to my family members, confused, “We already remember what we did all day, right?” He had no idea how much we all prized the re-enjoyment of our shared past.
As soon as we were married, we faced a major culture clash. I liked to wake up slowly, with hopes of a lazy morning lingering over coffee, while he’d have been up be up since first light, ready for whatever was next. And that was on the days he didn’t wake me up with the dawn to “seize the day.” We tend to assume that others think and operate as we do – the source of so much marital tension – but Brian learned quickly that those wake up calls didn’t result in me being the morning-person he didn’t even realize he’d expected.
One of the most beautiful things about marrying a Type 8 is his generosity. Where my natural predisposition is toward feelings of scarcity and a desire to protect my resources, he is never prone to withhold anything.
We both enjoy the non-indulgent treat of sparkling water. I love to find a good deal and buy any flavors that look appealing. Not long ago, we had company and Brian brought out a brand-new box of one of our best flavors to share. I had an inner moment of “but that’s for us” — then I checked myself. Even if we share the entire 12-pack, we can replace it, or we can drink something else. The truth is, it’s only by God’s provision that we have plenty of water. I realize now that Brian’s generosity is motivated by his big heart and his firm conviction that everything is God’s anyway. How thankful I am that my inner stinginess has been challenged by Brian’s inherent generosity. My heart has grown lighter and freer thanks to my big-hearted Type 8 husband who freely shares with me, with others and is a living example of God’s open handedness; whose generosity challenges me to do the same.
Have you listened to the Podcast Series yet? Has this tool helped you to understand your spouse, helped resolve misunderstandings, or enabled you to have more grace for them? We’d love to hear your story!