The Enneagram, Marriage, and Me

The Enneagram personality types are being talked about a lot lately. It seems to be the hot topic of personal growth. The types have been at the forefront of my mind since my church held a conference on The Enneagram a few months ago. My understanding is that the “Enneagram of Personality” was first coined by a Chilean psychiatrist and different religions have since adopted it within their own beliefs. For my husband and myself, we have never had anything so accurately and deeply detail out who we each are. Exploring our authentic selves(that which is a reflection of a particular aspect of God’s character) and our adapted selves (that which has adapted to living in our sinful and fallen world) has been informative and entertaining.

If you know anything about the Enneagram, I am a Type 1. One’s are described as perfectionists, high standards, “the good person”, integrity, hard-working, self-controlled, purposeful and our adapted self can be judgmental. While these are all words I would’ve used to describe myself, it’s also a little painful when reading that last word.

Conviction Kayla Anderson

Much of the time growing up, I heard from family that I am too blunt, too judgmental, too condemning. I remember a few occasions of people being upset with me specifically for my strongly held values. For years, more than any other area of growth, I’ve thought about it, prayed about it, asked God to help me, and have tried hard within my own fallen human life to change that last word. I don’t want it to be a word that describes me. I want desperately for people around me to feel comfortable, relaxed and not judged.

Especially in our world today, it feels like being judgmental of anyone else and their life choices is one of the worst things you could do. A crowd will instantly dislike you when you show the slightest hint of intolerance. Which can make it hard to stand up for what is right.

I keep asking myself “what is the difference between judgment and conviction?” Judgment is the act of an opinion or decision judging right or wrong of someone else. Conviction is a strongly held personal belief of your own. The Enneagram Institute describes One’s as “people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.” What gets me into trouble is when my strongly held convictions move towards judgment of someone else who doesn’t hold the same convictions that I do.

This has been particularly interesting in my marriage to a man who is a Type 7. Seven’s are extroverted, playful, optimistic, spontaneous, constantly seeking new experiences and are red-tape pushers. Friends, let me just tell you plainly now, the disagreements between Strong-Convictions Girl and Red-Tape Pushing Guy are usually of the same theme: whether something is right or wrong to do. We have such different convictions and different ideas of right and wrong that at times I wonder how in the world we paired up. I’m definitely a “let’s find out the rules first” kind of lady and he’s more of a “let’s just do it and we’ll ask for forgiveness later if we find out that it was wrong” kind of man.

I have often told my husband that his red-tape pushing is the source of anxiety in my strict rule following world. This is exactly where I’ve had to be stretched, learn and practice what it means to have some vastly different convictions than someone else. Even someone I’m married to and partner up with to parent our four young children. It’s been a place of both of us needing to learn how to discuss decisions ahead of time, come up with a compromise between both of our extremes, and feel the stretching of our own distinct personalities while giving space for the other person. We both have convictions – they just aren’t always the same. I’ve had to learn that just because I personally feel convicted about something, it doesn’t mean it’s as black and white as it feels in my mind. It doesn’t mean that it is wrong, it means that I personally feel convicted about it one way or the other.

Kayla Anderson Conviction

Convictions without judgment of others can be a wildly freeing and anxiety-filled place. In that place, these verses have been helpful to hold onto:

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your hap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38

I’m not typically an anxiety-filled woman but I feel it rise when I am standing, holding my tongue, and watching my husband do something I personally feel a different conviction about. But there has been such freedom in keeping impulsive words back, not passing along judgment for my convictions, and letting my husband be who he is – the thrill seeker and adventurer. He has a good heart, smart mind, and is an excellent leader of our family. We are learning from each other: I’m learning from him how to just stop and play, and he’s learning from me how to play by the rules. That’s the deep beauty I’ve found in the freedom from keeping my convictions from being opposed on those around me and trusting the Lord to guide us both.


**If you want to learn more about the Enneagram types, look into The Enneagram Institute. For a wonderful Christian perspective on the types and how each type reflects different aspects of God’s character, a great read is the book “Self to Lose, Self to Find” by Marilyn Vancil.

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

Book Review: The Road Back to You

When I first heard about the Enneagram, I was skeptical. Another personality test—a set of questions used to place me into a category I think I might not necessarily fit into. My church, however, had an upcoming one-day conference utilizing the Enneagram to gain a greater depth of knowing and relating to the congregation. Hesitantly, I took the plunge and decided to take an Enneagram online test.

The Enneagram is a typology test, separating a person into one of nine personality types, which emerge from childhood. Some say that the Enneagram number you best match up with is the way God originally made you to be, before everyone else told you who to become.

When I took the online test, I have to be honest: I was sort of disappointed. It wasn’t until I read Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You, that I gained clarification in my typology and began to understand the complexity of the Enneagram itself. My initial disappointment quickly turned from intrigue to understanding and finally to acceptance.

As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we're prisoners of our history. We'll continue going through life on aut

In the book, Ian describes burnout from the church he was pastoring, and how he sought out spiritual direction from Br. Dave, a Benedictine monk. It was Br. Dave that introduced Ian to the Enneagram. “What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others … As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually, we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

I’m a 2w1 (two wing one), meaning my personality type most lines up with Type 2, The Helper (or my personal favorite title for a Type 2, The Befriender). The wing represents the number that my personality also leans toward—it’s adjacent to my typology number, and I tend to display characteristics of my wing in my personality as well. Type 1 is titled The Perfectionist. You might be able to see why I was initially disappointed when I found out I was a Helping Perfectionist. Yikes. Thankfully, The Road Back to You left my heart encouraged. I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of myself that, when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God’s people the best, without losing a sense of self.  

I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of my self that when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God's people the best, without losing a sense of self.

The Ennegram intends to bring illumination to those who take the test, and Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book beautifully describes each personality type. As I dove into my number’s chapter, I began to relate to the characteristics explained, including the deadly sin my number gravitates toward when unhealthy. Colossians 3:10 shares, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Learning more about myself has encouraged me to know more about God: His creativity, His love for us. As Thomas À Kempis says, “A humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deep learning.”

The Road Back to You is a useful tool in discovering a deeper knowledge of your Enneagram personality type. Its intent is to help people rediscover who God created them to be, and allow God’s people to relate to one another on a more complex level.

Have you taken the Enneagram test? If not, here’s one we recommend. If you have taken the Enneagram test, what’s your typology? What has God been teaching you through this discovery?

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.