How Understanding The Enneagram Can Benefit Your Relationships

February 3, 2019

By: Rev. Michelle Manuel, Pastor of Congregational Prayer & Loft Associate

& Lindsay Davenport

Okay, so there’s this new thing that everyone is talking about.

Well, actually it’s not new at all. It’s ancient. But people are talking about it nonstop, and it’s probably already getting on your nerves.

If my co-worker posts one more time about how her favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla. because she’s a 1 I’m going to scream (and then I’ll go out and buy a scoop of vanilla, because ice cream sounds so good rn). LOL j/k j/k . But seriously it seems like everyone is talking about the Enneagram! I’m so glad that this ancient spiritual wisdom (did you know that?) is helping people to grow and heal and deepen their faith in Jesus. That being said it’s unlike any other personality typing system out there. It offers us so much more than cute memes on how we like our coffee or organize the dishwasher.

The Enneagram when taken seriously can be something that leads us into a richer, fuller, more whole life.

The Enneagram is a journey.

There aren’t many rules about it, but I’d like to offer you a few suggestions on how to approach it.

First: NEVER take a test! If you’re interested in finding out what your number is, then read the descriptions for each type, and go from there. I would suggest The Road Back To You by Suzanne Stabille and Ian Cron. Once you’ve found your personality’s description, it will probably cause an emotional (or even visceral) response when you read yours. Emotions like disgust, embarrassment and even relief. Once you have discovered what you think is your number, then ‘try it on’ for a few weeks. Observe yourself, and see if it fits. You see, the Enneagram is based on deep inner motivations, many of which we are not aware of ourselves. Most tests online don’t seem to be as helpful in revealing your number when it comes to the Enneagram.

Secondly: NEVER type others. The Enneagram is a journey of SELF-discovery. If someone wants to know their number badly enough, they’ll go searching for it. If they don’t want to know, then leave them be! They may not want to do the work, so don’t do it for them.  The Enneagram is about doing your own work–not the work of others. Don’t steal the journey from them. The journey is rich and lovely and wonderful. The Journey of the Enneagram is one filled with “ah-has” and sighs of relief and surprises.

Let Jesus reveal yourself to you through the Enneagram.

Let Jesus teach you about yourself and offer healing to the places that need it most.

The Enneagram journey is one that will touch all relationships. 

The Enneagram is helpful to marriages–even if only one of you gives yourself over to it.

And this has been the case for us, Lindsay and Jordan.

I’m so grateful for Michelle’s insight into the Enneagram–how it isn’t just “another” personality test; how it’s actual ancient AND spiritual wisdom; and how beneficial it can be to your relationships–even if only one of you pursues to understand and heal within your number.

When Jordan and I were in counseling last year, we found most of our healing through the realization of our different personalities through the Meyer’s-Briggs personality types. It was eye-opening for us to realize and not only put words to our feelings but to validate them.

Neither of us were wrong in our differences.

But both of us needed to understand how the other felt. And actually–that it was very different from the other.

So when one of my best friends Meg told me about the Enneagram, I knew I was interested. Meg has gained her knowledge through her own personal research–but also through Michelle, who is skilled in public speaking on this very topic.

It didn’t take me too long to discover my own number after reading through The Road Back To You, and what I felt after discovering my number was incredible relief. I mean–I highlighted the HECK out of that book. I began putting the pieces together thinking, “okay, THIS is why I always feel this way,” or “THIS is why this reoccurring fight with Jordan has happened”, “or THIS was why I struggled at this point in time”. It’s truly fascinating and healing to simply understand…yourself.

Because, as we learned in counseling, it can benefit your relationships–especially one as precious and valuable as your marriage.

And what the Enneagram can reveal to you is not only how you tick–but how you tick when you’re well, when you’re average and when you’re below average. It leads you into what your number’s “deadly sin” is–what that number oftentimes struggles with the most.

And while Jordan isn’t AS into the Enneagram as I am these days, we’ve discovered his number, as well as, discussed mine together. Just like counseling, it has only been fruitful.

So, hello, I am Lindsay, and I am a 2 wing 1. My husband Jordan is a 5 (wing undiscovered at this time).

For those of you who know much about the Enneagram, you might know that the 2 is the “helper” who loves connecting with others, is a people-pleaser, caring and interpersonal. Basically, I’m #allthefeelings. The 5 is the “investigator” who is more introspective, logical, innovative, secretive and isolated. Basically, he’s #allthelogic.

And while this is in our favor at times (he’s the peanut butter to my jelly), it can also be really difficult. Because, did you hear? I basically want to connect, be together, process out loud and help–while Jordan is more introverted, independent (but plllleeease let me hallllp you!!) and refuels best by himself. Like, we’re pretty opposite.

The way we connect is very different.

But because of awareness through the Enneagram, we are continually discovering ways to not only articulate how we are feeling or what we need, but to work harder on our end to love and serve each other the way we need.

Real Life

I will never forget when Jordan and I were in So-Cal this past fall. I was in my first trimester, exhausted, and we were away on a work/getaway trip. It was our first night in the cooler weather (compared to Dallas at the time), and we were eating a delicious, nice meal outside the patio of a restaurant at our resort.

I said, “Jordan, this feels SO good. Like, I’m so glad we were able to get away. This is so good for me”.

*….no response. Jordan browsing menu.*

*Lindsay thinks, “I’m going to try one more time”.*

“Jordan, I’m so glad we were able to get away. It feels so good for me.”

*….no response. Actually brings up a different topic.* 

*Lindsay–knowing that Jordan’s # needs bluntness (while also fighting against being frustrated with the situation–not to toot my horn–promise, it’s taken years of failure before this understanding).*

“Hey, Jordan, I’m trying really hard to connect with you right now and share with you how I’m feeling. Can you respond?”

“OH! Wait, yes! Me too! Repeat what you said–”

It was in that moment of seeing how startled Jordan was by my request that I fully understood–you really do see the world differently than me. While it might sound like he was being a jerk (guys, promise Jordan is the furthest thing from one), he was quite literally just in his mind on the most logical level at the time I needed something more feeling-based, like…

“Baby, me too. It’s to nice here, and it feels so good to just get away and it be the two of us. What’s been your favorite part so far?”

What could’ve happened if I hadn’t known to be more forward with Jordan was: I would’ve bottled up my frustration. It would’ve overflowed into the trip, and we could’ve started out the trip on the wrong foot.

Instead: it allowed for a teaching moment for BOTH of us, and we both were able to connect through it.

This is just ONE example of how understanding each other–how we are not wrong in our feelings–and how healing and restoration–can come through the journey of the Enneagram.

Won’t you explore with us? I’m telling you–we’re still on the starting line of our journey!

  1. Andie

    February 6th, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Lindsay!
    The site is looking soooo great! ☺️ I loved reading this post about the enneagram test because I have been so interested in this lately. Sounds like a good book! While the numbers have such different descriptions, you are SO right that this can lead to connection ♥️ Praying for your family and new baby on the way!!!

  2. Lindsay Davenport

    February 6th, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Andie, sweet girl, you just made my day! Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me!! And YES!! You and Josh need to read this book! 🙂 It’s so fascinating! I hope volleyball and travels are going SO WELL!!!

  3. Elizabeth

    February 11th, 2019 at 2:17 am

    What a good post Lindsay, thank you for sharing your insight! The Road Back To You has been on my reading list for so long! I LOVE Meyers-Briggs and am really interested in learning more about the Enneagram, especially in the context of marriage. You and Jordan have a partnership so similar to my own, and it’s so cool to read about your experiences in building a healthy marriage! Missing you tons and feeling so excited for your growing family!

  4. Lindsay Davenport

    February 13th, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you girl! You gotta read this book–or skim over your honeymoon when you can chat about it 🙂 Once you find your #, you can just read that chapter (there are 9 chapters with 1 per #). Thanks for your support love!! Miss you too!!

  5. Charise Hunter

    February 16th, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    I loved this post and I am all about the Enneagram right now! It is so wonderful to have a tool to understand how we are wired. I also am a 2 wing 1 and my husband is also a 5! Thank you for the marriage resources and for your heart to share them with the world.

  6. Lindsay Davenport

    February 16th, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Ah, I’m so glad you were encouraged!! It’s truly so helpful to understand more about yourselves so that you can bring that to the table within your marriage! 🙂 And thank you SO much!!

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Lindsay Davenport is a wedding photographer and industry educator based in Dallas and available for travel worldwide.

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