Enneagram & Marriage Counseling

Life’s felt really full these past couple months. I haven’t done much of life updates because it’s been a blur…fun, enjoyable, hard and frustrating…full really does sum it up.

Recently, I have been spending a lot of time listening to a few different podcasts on the Enneagram which is something my husband and I have been talking about and intrested in since we were dating. He has known about it for much longer than me but re introduced me to it when we were early in our dating years. It’s become a really important tool for us in our marriage and friendship, understanding each other and knowing how to better love the other where they are.

He and I started marriage counseling a couple months ago and have seen our counselor maybe 5 or 6 times since then. It has been a healing and helpful experience as I realize how much I’ve dealt with anger and resentment this past year.

I kind of feel like becoming a parent later in life is a lot harder than becoming one in your 20s. Waiting till now has meant I have had a lot more life that has been just about me or more recently David and me.

I think the most difficult part of the transition was understanding my new identity. I spent 30 years building it up and understanding who I was…I think I was just starting to get comfortable with that picture.

But….then I started dating at 30 (1st relationship at 30 so…yeah, all the junk that happens there)….then engagement and wedding at 32 then 3 months later when I turned 33 we learned we were going to be parents….ride that over to quitting my job of 15 years at age 34 to stay home full time. All that change in 4 years. I hit 30 and life hit the fast forward button!

While I had always wanted to be a mom I certainly idealized it in my head thinking I was going to be so good at it and completely forgetting it’s a full time physical, emotional, spiritual and mental job that never allows for breaks.

I have done a lot of learning the past 14 months and I believe I’ve been struggling with anger for a few reasons.

First I am a 1 on the Enneagram or the Perfectionist. 1s, 9s and 8s are a part of the anger triad. They all have anger just under the surface and they each do something different with it. 8s are external with it, 9s are asleep to it and 1s internalize it. And anger doesn’t necessarily always mean rage like you may think when you hear the word but it’s also an energy that fuels them. That’s probably why when 9s, the Peacemakers, awaken to it they move towards healthy 3s, known as the Achievers.

For 1s, the “anger” energy manifests as an inner critic that just won’t really shut up. For me it’s not a very kind voice but very judgy and a bully who tells me what I “should” and “should not” be doing. 1s don’t want to be bad or corrupt or evil so whatever bad or corrupt or evil looks like from one type 1 person to another type 1 would look different. Yet it’s there and their inner critic is keeping them in line so they don’t look or feel corrupt or bad or evil. I say those 3 words but some 1s could use a different negative word that plagues them. My word are ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ which means my goal is do things right and be good.

So, take that awareness and process with me…a new mom with that mentality would be distressed a lot if she was trying to be her version of perfect and didn’t want to mess up or do something wrong so she looked like a bad mother. If she was trying to keep all those plates in the air she would feel pretty nuts. So, what might happen if one of those plates dropped or cracked? I can say that as a 1, the internal critic goes on overdrive saying things like…why did you do that? You failed. You shouldn’t have done that. You should have done that….etc. Others would interact with that scenario in different ways depending on their Enneagram type, but that’s likely a version of how a 1 would process something they perceive as failure.

So, needless to say… with that line of thinking running through my brain non stop, my first 2 years of marriage and parenting have been really hard. I’ve been angry because I feel like a failure as I do these very new roles of wife and mother. So much new so quickly had left me without feeling proficient in anything and that’s really hard for me because of that inner critic. My anger with myself and my perceived failure actually ends up going outward to those around me.

My poor husband is my safe person which means I don’t have to perform for him and get to bring him my real self…which means my daughter gets my patience and he gets what is left over which is angry and ugly. Cue the inner critic that tells me it’s bad to be angry and I shouldn’t be ugly inside…ooft. So… the word ‘stuck’ has been a go to because I don’t know what to do with all the anger and ugliness I’ve been feeling.

I now know with the help of marriage counseling that I was reacting to a lot of needs not getting met. Anger doesn’t communicate that propely but it did a fantastic job of driving a wedge between my husband and I, filled with lots of arguments and misunderstandings. I didn’t quite know what those needs were so I failed to communicate them in a way that was actually something David could work with.

Somwhow the anger has been a doorway to healing becauae it (thankfully) drove us to counseling. I think the more settled I’ve become in this role as mother, the more space that has been freed up in my heart and mind and soul to look back on this year and figure out what the heck happened and why I’ve been so angry and why learning about me being a 1 on the Enneagram is really important. It’s helped me offer myself grace and give me words to explain myself to my husband and others.

A big thing that’s been a helpful take away came from a podcast called The Road Back to You. On the episode one of the host said, “You can’t change the lenses by which you see the world…” which is what the Enneagram teaches us. “But, while we can’t change that, we can change what we do with what we see.” A simple statement but that little nugget has given me so much hope for the places I’ve felt stuck.

I could say so much more but I’ll stop there. I’ve been working and reworking this post for months now knowing I wanted to say something about this part of my journey but not sure what to say. But I think this is good enough for now.

I’m learning to re-train that inner critic to be a lot nicer to myself. I’m learning how to have a 2nd inner critic…or maybe an inner defender… that talks back to the critic and says, “She’s doing OK. She’s doing good enough. Leave her alone and let celebrate what she’s accomplished.”

Even typing that out makes me cry because it’s so important for me to hear. I really need a gentle voice in there that can fight for me.

That’s it for now. If you connected to anything I shared and are interested in learning more about the Enneagram I would encourage you to pick up the book, The Road Back To You, listen to Ian and Suzanne’s podcast with the same title or start listening to Ian’s podcast that sprang off after called Typology. All great ways to jump in and learn more.

Thanks for reading. I hope this finds you well.

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