Podcast: Can the Enneagram Help Your Marriage? feat. Christa Hardin

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Connecting, Podcasts | 10 comments

The Enneagram in Marriage with Christa Hardin

What does the Enneagram have to say about your marriage?

I’m a total personality test geek. My mom spent a lot of her career utilizing different personality tools in her business consulting role going in to talk about corporate change, and she was really big on the MBTI. I grew up with that, and I found the ENTJ type totally explained me so well.

But later in her career she got into the Enneagram too, and I’ve started to see the benefits of this other way of seeing our types. 

So today on the podcast marriage counselor Christa Hardin joins us to talk about how she’s been using the Enneagram in her practice–and how it can be such a helpful tool for marital growth!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Timeline of the Podcast

1:50 Christa joins to talk the history of ‘Enneagram and Marriage’
9:30 Talking about Sheila’s ‘type’
14:00 Working with the types in marriage
26:20 The three ways of knowing
31:15 The ways of survival/basic instinct
36:15 Harmonic triads
47:15 Research on children’s attitude on gender roles with Rebecca

Let’s talk the Enneagram!

Christa Hardin’s new book, The Enneagram in Marriage, is just wonderful! I was sent an early copy, and I had so much fun perusing it and seeing different aspects to my personality (and my husband’s personality–I finally figured out what type he is!).

What I like about the Enneagram is that it focuses on growth–how can you become a more rounded, emotionally healthy person? And it points you to your potential areas of weakness and danger, so that you can develop strategies to help you not fall into those ruts.

So it’s not like, “this is what you are, and everybody else better get used to it.” It’s more, “this is what motivates you and animates you, and this is where you may tend to fall on bad days, and here’s how you can overcome challenges and frustrations to find more peace and be more effective.”

I really enjoy it, and I hope you will too!

Can a dad’s housework affect kids’ views of gender?

Rebecca and I decided to spend 10 minutes at the end of the podcast to look at a new study that shows how parents’ behaviours and attitudes and work situations contribute to kids’ views of gender roles.

And the thing that has the most impact of everything? Dads doing housework when kids are in middle school. It’s fascinating, and we have fun analyzing this longitudinal study.

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

The Enneagram in Marriage with Christa Hardin

Do you know what Enneagram number you are? Has it helped you? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to The Bare Marriage Podcast. I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from BareMarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your marriage and your sex life.  I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.  Hello.

Sheila: You’re actually going to be leaving us for most of this podcast.

Rebecca: I am.  Yes.  I’m really only a short term accessory for this one.

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  Because we’re going to be talking about the Enneagram in marriage, which I’m actually really excited about because I love personality stuff.

Rebecca: Well and the Enneagram is one that I cannot figure out what I am.  We can’t.  I think we figured it out now, but I have bounced around from number to number so much.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  I know.  I’m just so obvious what I am it’s like it’s not even funny.  It’s just like oh yeah.  That’s her.  So we’ll be talking about that with our guest, Krista Hardin.  Before we do that, as always, a shout out to our patrons and to the people who help make this possible.  So our patron group helps fun our research and just is our emotional support puppy on the Internet.  

Rebecca: How do you guys feel about—I just know because we have a patron who makes pictures of a lot—draws pictures of lots of things.  Now he’s going to draw the picture of us surrounded by us 300 emotional support puppies.

Sheila: Yes.  I think it’s more like 400 now.  But anyway, but our Facebook group is awesome, and we just so appreciate that group.  So that’s at patreon.com/baremarriage.  And, of course, you can also help us by sharing this podcast, by rating it five star, and leaving a review.  So you can be part of our community as we are trying to change the evangelical conversation about marriage and sex.  And we appreciate you being part of that.  And so we are going to bring on Christa Hardin, who is the author of a new book on the Enneagram in Marriage, to talk about that with me.  And then you’re going to be joining me at the end to talk about some new research.  

Rebecca: That sounds great.  

Sheila: Well, I am so thrilled to welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast Christa Hardin, who is the author of the new book Enneagram in Marriage.  Hi, Christa.

Christa: Hi, Sheila.  I’m so excited to be here.

Sheila: I know.  I have actually been on your podcast, Enneagram and Marriage, a couple of times.  So we have chatted quite a bit.  But this is your first time here.  So welcome.

Christa: Awesome.

Sheila: And I know—okay.  So Enneagram in Marriage is your new book.  It releases this month.  And I’m so excited about it.  I love the Enneagram.  But do you want to tell us what your subtitle is?  Because I can never even remember my own subtitles let alone yours.  

Christa: Yes.  It’s the Enneagram in Marriage: Your Guide to Thriving Together in Your Unique Pairing.

Sheila: Yeah.  I love it.  I love it.  Now I know everybody is wondering what I am in the Enneagram.  Anyone who knows it we’re not going to say yet.  We’re going to see if they can guess later on because I’m actually pretty easy to type.  We go back and forth on what Rebecca and my husband are.  But I am so easy to type.  

Christa: You are.

Sheila: Let’s just set the stage for a minute on why you got interested in this because this—the Enneagram is fairly recent for you.  You started out in couples work looking at other—using other personality inventories and tools, right?

Christa: Right.  Yes.  I’ve been in the field for 20 years now.  And I started off as a family systems therapist and a Master’s level psychologist, so I was using lots and lots of assessments.  And I always have loved heavy reading and writing.  And so they would stick with me with all the people who wanted the long form assessments, and I loved it.  But it was a job.  And it cost them thousands of dollars to get all these assessments done.  So about seven years back, I took Michael Hyatt’s Enneagram test.  And one of my dear friends, Carla, who is a therapist and a very healthy type four for anyone who knows the Enneagram, Fours take their time.  They go deep.  And she said, “You should give the Enneagram a second look.  I know you took it once, but it’s not just this one layer of your type.  There’s a lot more to it.”  And when she did that, I was able to really dig and see oh my gosh.  This was better than all those assessments that I was using combined.  And you could get to it a lot faster.  And guess what that did for my couples work?  It brought couples healing a lot faster.  So over the last 7 out of 20 years, this has been my number 1 go to tool.  And it has been so helpful.

Sheila: I love it.  So you actually used the Enneagram in your couples work to help them reconnect, learn more about themselves, and just grow in intimacy.  So I think that’s awesome.  Yeah.

Christa: Oh yeah.  My first couple I used it with was healing from an affair.  And we were able to delve in a different level.  They had been with a lot of therapists before they found me.  And I was so new to the Enneagram, in fact, that I said, “I love family systems.  We’ve got lots of great general marriage tools to use.”  I always enjoy hacking systems.  But I said, “What would you think about me trying something that’s been so helpful for Wes and I?”  And they were open.  And they were a Three, Nine couple, and it really brought them to new territory of healing.  And they’re still thriving today seven years later.

Sheila: Oh, that’s great.  Okay.  So as we jump into this, I know a lot of people have used the Enneagram, but there’s probably a lot of people who don’t know what it is or who have misconceptions about it.  So tell us what it is.

Christa: Oh, I love that you brought that up.  And the misconceptions.  We just did an episode on that.  My husband and I.  And the Enneagram is a tool that’s been around in some form for many years, even perhaps centuries.  And so recently, like I said, about 7 years back, it got really popular because somebody who had been studying with the Jesuits and really digging deep into desert fathers and mothers in the Christian forum got a hold of it and wrote The Road Back to You.  And that’s got over a million reads now.  So that’s the book most people know.  But also recently, people were wondering, “What if there are some sketchy origins?”  And so what my husband and I and many others have tried to encourage people with is what doesn’t have sketchy origins outside of, obviously, the Bible doesn’t.  But any medical science, any art, you’re going to find people who are using it for good and people who are using it for not so good.  So the examples we gave was my husband was reminding us that algebra and other forms of math are from people who are just other cultures, other religions, polytheism, Newton and Kepler, who discovered laws of planetary motion, and—I won’t bore you guys with all the details.  But they were occultists on the side.  And he’s like, “But we still use Newton’s laws of gravity.”  So even if you know of people in the Enneagram world who have not used the tool for good, don’t listen to them.  You use it for the good in your life.  And if it’s helpful, use it.  But what I’ll share lastly is it’s basically a tool for people to find their vices and mental fixations and their strengths.  So even if you’re just like, “I don’t want the history.  What’s the basic?”  That’s what it is.  So that’s not bad.  That’s good because it helps you see what are your flaws and what are your strengths.  

Sheila: Right.  I love it.  You know what I was really into when I was younger?  Is the MBTI.  I still really like the MBTI because it just—it applies to me so well.  You read the description of my personality type.  It’s like oh yeah.  They could have a picture of me beside it.  So I’m an ENTJ in MBTI, and I always have been.  And yes.  Very, very much so I am.  And I know a lot of people are kind of familiar with that idea.  Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Are you a thinker or a feeler?  And that makes sense.  So it sees personality as just different quadrants on how you rate on each of these four things.  But the Enneagram is different because it’s not actually about your personality as much as it is about your motivations and things like that.  So can you explain that?

Christa: Yeah.  So that’s what I love too is I do love hacking through MBTI with you and others.  But why everything was easier for me with clients and why I loved this tool for couples or individuals is because of what you said.  We get down to what am I struggling with, not just the vice but what’s behind it.  Why am I prone to this or that?  It’s called vice passions.  Just another word for sin.  Why is that my Achilles heel?  And we usually have some inner wounded messages.  Sometimes they are from our churches, our communities, some of the purity culture layers you talk about certainly.  Some of it’s just from years and years and years of epigenetics, of generation after generation using these broken ways to survive.  So when we come into marriage, we each bring the strengths of our type as well as these broken pieces.  And I think what we start off in marriage thinking is, “My spouse brought me broken pieces.  How could they do this to me?”  And then we forget that fundamental attribution area that we usually think of ourselves as better and healthier, but we brought some too.  And they’re maladaptive sometimes.  So the Enneagram can say, “Oh, you’re a type,”—it’s types one through nine.  And whichever one you are, here is something great about type twos.  You’re awesome this or that.  And then here is the flip side wounding message and probably that sin you’re acting out on now.”  Now we do that with grace because it’s hard to just change overnight, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  I love it.  Okay.  There are these nine types.  And I actually want to read the description for my type so that everybody who is listening can say, “Does this sound at all like me?”  Okay?  Because this is why it’s so like, “Wow.  Yeah.  That’s really her.”  So this is a type eight, and I will read you this.  This is from your book Enneagram in Marriage.  “Type eights are often thought of as the protectors and challengers of the world and that they deeply care for the underprivileged.  They also want to make sure that those they love feel defended and passionately loved by them.  Eights love to enjoy life on a grand experiential level with their sensual natures and love the finest experiences life can offer indulging in them for hours at a time.”  I just would have changed that sentence to the finest yarns that life can offer because I am such a yarn snob.  Give me my alpaca.  Give me—anyway—

Christa: I love it.

Sheila: “They often quite naturally find a willing tribe to lead with their practical stoic leadership or even dominance although this can sometimes make others afraid of their strong pull.  Eights do not like being vulnerable with their feelings unless it is with someone they can trust.  And even then, they are often reticent until there is complete assurance of an alliance proved across time and much testing.  In marriage, eights love a spouse who see their huge heart underneath their strong exterior and who will match their strength in some capacity.  Eights want someone who will rise to the occasion with specific desired acts of love and loyalty to support them in the same way they long to support their spouse to fullest capacity at all costs.”  So that just is like yeah.  That’s me.  So I just want you all to know I am reading this, and I’m like, “Holy cow.  Is that ever me?”  And so if you get Enneagram in Marriage and you read the types, you will also see the one that is so you.  And, of course, you should take an actual assessment and everything too.  It’s not just about reading the descriptions.  But you will find one that totally matches you as well.  

Christa: Yes.  I love that you brought that up.  Your audience knows that’s you through and through.  When I heard you reading it, I’m like, “Sheila.  Sheila.  Sheila.”  But yeah.  I love that you said kind of work with it because I do like the tests.  But I also like the interview.  I also like sitting with the book and letting it meld.  So thank you for just letting everyone know you don’t have to take the first glance as you’re—once you really find it though it’s really going to be obvious.

Sheila: Yeah. Exactly.  And then—okay.  So there are nine types.  And then there’s also a wing.  So people will often hear people say, “Well, I’m a two wing three.  Or I’m a five wing four.”  So explain what a wing is.

Christa: So wings are when we look at the Enneagram we see that instead of laying out on a diagram like a spectrum, a one linear line, we see it as a circular form so that we can see shapes.  And your husband is in medicine as is mine.  And my husband is like, “Yeah.  When you see our EKGs, you’ll see all kinds of weird shapes and squiggles.”  But the Enneagrams’ shapes and squiggles make sense because there are those nine types.  And then some of the types relate together, and those are the arrows.  And when you find your arrows and you can see it on the Enneagram map, you see, “Oh, I’m like this type in stress, and I’m like this type when I’m really healthy.”  But what I like to say about arrows is you could kind of ping pong in either direction like a piston in health or stress because my type is a seven.  But I can go to my healthy five space even when I’m trying to avoid something.  I can be like, “I’m going to stay in my healthy space all day,” and so you need to be more expansive than just your type.  And that also goes for your wings.  On that same diagram, if you pictured a circle with nine types around it, you’d see that the wings are the two types on either side of you.  And we usually do have a leaning towards one of them.  I have a six leaning.  But when I go into my eight, it’s wonderful because I’m more expansive.  So I just want to encourage you.  If you find you’re a three, embrace your two wing and your four wing, so you get your helper gifts and your artistry.  And for Sheila, that’s going to mean that she embraces her fun seven, which I see all the time, and your peaceful nine side, which I would imagine you do share at home with your family sometimes.

Sheila: Not as much as I should.  I need to embrace my nine a little more because I’m definitely a wing seven.  Yeah.

Christa: Exactly.  That’s so cool that you know that because that’s a good stretch point for you.

Sheila: Yeah.  Now the main focus of your book is on seeing how understanding each of your Enneagram types can actually be used as a tool to help grow intimacy and just to help personal growth in general which I think is so cool.  How we can be iron sharpening iron, how we can help heal each other’s wounds in some way, and how God may have put us together just for that purpose.  And I’m going to read a little bit of a longer passage.  I really like this because I think it illustrates what you’re trying to get at in Enneagram in Marriage.  So you said this, “When I was in my third year of working with Enneagram couples from a family systems framework, I started to notice patterns.  Not only were couples of similar pairings alike, but couples were different from others of their own type because they were merging with their spouse’s type.  For example, a two married to a three was often very different from a two married to a nine.  I most noticeably observed this pattern in the type two and the type five dance of marriage as I saw the couple merging in ways a bit different from my typical experiences with them as individuals.  Over time, the five was allowing the two’s love and nurture to fill them with more confidence fueling their competency with their need for love.  Likewise, the five’s playful desire to keep the two close and at home was reminding the two of their love and worth even without their service.”  So yeah.  That’s really the goal, right?  Can you explain that a bit more?

Christa: Yeah.  So when you find your type and you really allow yourself to sit with you and your spouse’s gifts, you see that, in early marriage especially, we’re so eager and excited to let them influence us.  We’re like, “Oh my gosh.  I’m now a Star Wars nerd with them.”  Or for my husband now, he has to be a Lord of the Rings nerd.  There is no question.  But we also have things that we just over time bring each other into.  And not all things.  I don’t know if your husband likes yarn as much as you.  Probably not.  

Sheila: No.  But he has been to a lot of yarn fairs.  He’s a good guy.

Christa: (cross talk) with Enneagram now.  And so over time, we learn from each other.  And we allow those particular gifts to rub off on us.  And we usually have to cross into some shadows together to mourn what we didn’t get and to lament what we didn’t get in our spouses on that journey.  Usually mid route when we’re in that dark space and we’ve had littles.  And we’re just tired.  And we’re like, “Well, who are you?”  And so it’s fun to come around the other side, and that is a huge goal of the book is to say, “We each bring some sorrows and, like I said, a long line of people who got us here to survive.  But now we can merge our gifts in beautiful and unique ways.”  And I’m a very big general marriage researcher too, as you heard.  And so one of my favorite aspects about general marriage research is those couples who know how to nuance and tell their own narrative uniquely are the couples who are the happiest in their marriage.  So that’s what I wanted to bring from this book is for you to have that unique story together and to have the awareness of what each of your issues are.  

Sheila: Right.  Awesome.  Okay.  So my husband, I believe, is a five.  Okay.  So yeah.  Quite different from me.  Well, do you want to explain what a five is?  I’m thinking.  We thought this through.  I think he’s a five.  Rebecca thinks he’s a five.  But what do you think?  Explain what a five is.

Christa: Yeah.  A five is somebody who, like you read from the passage, they like to be competent.  That’s huge for them.  They want to know things, so they look into things a lot.  They spend a lot of time in research.  They’re great observers.  They can even be that fly on the wall who doesn’t demand attention all the time.  But they really appreciate the beauty and the gifts of others too when they’re at their best.  And it’s one of my favorite things about fives is they are part of—if you really geek out with me, you can find out they’re part of a relational triad still along with twos and eights.  So that’s beautiful that you have that connection.  He cares, but he cares from a different, more introverted view.  But he cares very deeply.  And the things that fives do to romance their spouses sometimes are along the lines of acts of service that are painstaking.  But more than anything, they’re really just there to say, “I want to celebrate and support you.  And I hope you’ll also give me space to innovate, to rest, to research, so that you don’t demand that I’m part of everything,” because they do feel a limited amount of energy.  Usually very rationed energy each day.  Does that sound like him?

Sheila: Yes.  Oh yes.  

Christa: Okay.  Good.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  I mean Keith is really into bird watching.  Yeah.  He researches all of this.  He memorizes.  Every time we go to travel he’s got the new bird book out.  And I love bird watching with him, but he’s way more into it.  He’ll get up at 5:00 in the morning kind of thing.  I’m—no.  I’m about my sleep, right?  And he really does support me.  But sometimes I get on these big crusades, and he wants to support me.  But he just can’t get quite as enthusiastic as me.  

Christa: Right.  Right.  Exactly.  And he’s thinking every detail too.  Very good thinkers ahead.  A lot of fives—yes.  They’re past focused, and they’re good at—you probably remember this from different points in your marriage.  He’s probably good at pulling you back because you’re a future type eight.  And so he’s probably good at saying, “Let’s savor what we experience together in the past.”  But I also think fives are great at saying, in their planning, “What could we look forward to ahead?  What can we plan for?”  Do you feel like that’s good with him too?

Sheila: Oh yeah.  He’s got all our retirement plans already done.  It’s so funny. 

Christa: I love it.

Sheila: So as we’re trying to figure out how the two different types merge, you talk about having a marriage window of tolerance.  Tell us what that means.

Christa: Yeah.  I really like to help people to understand that when you’re taking care of your marriage and yourself you’re going to have so much easier access to your type in health.  And so it’s just a great reminder for everybody to be getting their emotional, spiritual, and physical self care every day so that your window of tolerance is open more.  And it’s usually some very basic things like making sure you get your nutrition and your sleep, like you mentioned, and your fitness.  And everyone is going to be different with what those things mean to them whether it’s an extra nap that day or a walk.  But that sort of body leveling out will keep your own personal window of tolerance open.  But in marriage, we have a unique lens as well because our types have their own ways of feeling safe and secure.  So when we judge our spouse and say, “No.  We feel safe and secure this way,” that can create a gap in your marriage window of tolerance because now we’re stressed.  And we’re not understanding that we’re a bit different here.  So yes.  We rub off, but we also collide.  And so you have to be able to use that dance to your benefit and to say, “Oh, okay.  I realize that you’re more introverted, so let me do this.  Let’s drive separately.  Or I realize that you’re really happy when you can have something planned whereas you like being a free spirit.”  Whatever the differences are to be able to notice how you can each get yourself care will bless you so much as a couple.  But one small caveat is that you need about six hours a week of quality time together so that you don’t just run parallel lines.  So just keep that in mind.  Every day I get my self care.  I don’t judge my spouse.  I encourage them to get their own nuanced self care.  And together we find a through line.

Sheila: I love it.  Now when you’re talking about one person might be more introverted, or one person is more forward thinking, one person is more in the past, whatever, this sounds like, well, what if we just simply married our own type?  Wouldn’t that be easier?  Wouldn’t that be more compatible?  And what you’re saying is it’s not actually about compatibility, so explain that.

Christa: Well, right.  We are there to help one another become more expansive.  And as image of God bearers, we want to have as much access post fall that we can in terms of all the best gifts.  There are nine fruits of the Spirit.  There are nine Enneagram types.  I mean try to have the best of all the virtues, right?  You would love to be a giver, and you would love to be a creative.  You would love to have joy, peace, all these things.  Power.  We’re not given a spirit of timidity but of power.  So there is a lot of giftedness you and your spouse each uniquely bring.  So trying to espouse that is, I think, a really good idea versus just to say, “No.  I’m running here.  You’re running here.”  It’s like why not have more gifts.  That’s what we would all want.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  So if you’re not the same type, that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a good thing.  It’s just about understanding how to be a healthy version of that type and how to relate to your spouse in that.  Okay.  So you talk about how there’s different stages of relationships when it comes to the Enneagram.  And first, it’s shine.  And then it’s heal.  And then now we’re starting to get into some throwing shade.  So let’s walk through—and then there are some others afterwards that are better.  I love the first three.  If you want the other three, you’ll have to read the book.  But I thought we could walk through the first three because it just paints such a picture of how sometimes these differences can really affect us.  So what’s that first thing of shine?

Christa: And it goes for any of the 45 pairings.  And yes, there’s some beautiful same type pairings that even they will different wings and arrows and family layers.  So there are always differences.  And in the beginning, you love that.  Like we were saying, you’re like, “Oh my gosh.  My spouse is—now I’m literally watching baseball with him every night.  Or he’s coming to my museum exhibits that he didn’t used to get into.”  Whatever it is, there is these new hues that you’re shining together in, and your family and friends see a glow about you.  They just do.  And people use that term all the time.  And they’re like, “You’re glowing.  I love your new relationship.  This is so beautiful on you.”  And people talk about that in all these colorful ways, right?  And then it gets even better, even deeper.  As a trauma therapist on my team, Glenda Reagan says, we start to really heal each other in that second stage where we really allow for one another to share the deepest wounds.  And we say, “Ugh, did you know that I wasn’t heard in childhood?  And maybe it wasn’t my parents’ intention, but I just wasn’t.  It was a busy household, and they weren’t home much.  Or did you know that I didn’t get a good—if I didn’t get a good grade, my sister”—my sister shared on our podcast.  She’s a type three.  She was like, “I felt like if I came home with an A minus it was, ‘Where is the A?’”  And so that’s something your spouse really feels for you at the beginning stages, and they’re very compassionate with.  And they fill you up, and they say, “Let me help you.  I see your gifts.  I see your vision.  Let’s heal each other.”  And you do the same for them.  So those are fun stages.  And they’re usually within the first five years of the relationship.  But as Sheila mentioned, now we come into throwing shade to each other.  We’re like, “I’m exhausted.  I’m dysregulated.  My window of tolerance is closed.  I have little kids running all over.  I’m all touched out.”  Whatever the case may be.  “I’m working full time,” if you don’t have kids.  It’s just life is a lot.  And as we get older, we have more grief and loss.  We have more aches and pains.  And we have more temptations and trials that come.  And so it’s so important to have balance, and that’s what I talk a lot about in the book is ways you can balance, ways you can build community.  But this is really the shadows of your marriage.  It’s that dark night of the marriage soul.  It’s where addictions, affairs, just this—like I mentioned earlier, this fundamental attribution air rises up to say, “When I do bad or wrong, it’s because I couldn’t help it.  But when they do bad or wrong, it’s because they’re a bad person.”  So we have to realize this is normal.  Everyone goes through this.  And lamenting who they’re not, celebrating who they are, and doing your own work here is what the next step is.

Sheila: Right.  I love it.  So that’s what you show in the book.  This beautiful picture of how we can use these types to actually grow.  And you use the term glow throughout the book.  That’s one of the metaphors that you use, and it’s really well done.  But I want to talk a little bit more, do a little bit more deep dive, into the Enneagram because I find this so interesting.  So for everyone who is not technical, what’s a good type that isn’t technical?

Christa: Oh my gosh.  That’s a great question.  Two.  Two would be a type that’s not technical.

Sheila: Okay.  So my twos would be going, “What are you doing, Sheila?  I just want more stories.”  Maybe we can get into some stories.  Talk about the three different ways of knowing.  So there’s a body knowing, a heart knowing, and a mental knowing.  I love this.  So what does this mean?

Christa: Yeah.  It means that those twos, the threes, and the fours—they’re so perceptive.  And perceptive and gifted with the emotional knowing.  They can tell what we’re feeling even when we can’t tell.  Yet they’re not always in touch with their own heart.  So they’re part of that heart or feelings group of individuals out there probably so many of the listeners are.  Just huge hearts for relationship.  And it’s a beautiful gift to all of us to have people who are emotionally attuned, emotionally sensitive, and sometimes even highly sensitive people in this group.  But they can also struggle with shame and codependency because they can feel like, “Who am I if I’m not loved by you,” versus knowing you’re so loved.  You’re so loved by God.  If your spouse is having a day, that’s not a reflection of who you are at the core.  And also, lastly, with them, they don’t always know their own feelings because they’re so busy knowing everybody else’s.  So sometimes just knowing their own feelings is their work to do.

Sheila: Right.  Okay.  And what’s a mental knowing?

Christa: A mental knowing for the fives, like your hubby, and sixes and sevens is these head types, thinking types.  They really analyze in the head a lot.  And the plan and plot and have everything resourced out so that, like you said, retirements are covered.  And they’re feeling like we’re going to make it in that way.  But sometimes because they’re a head on a stick, they can forget to be present with what is and to release hands to God and just be like, “Okay.   I’ve done my best planning, and now I’m taking a deep breath and releasing to You.”  And that’s really the work for these types to do.  And they’re very good at helping their friends to think things through and to pro and con and to strategize.  But they also really need to allow for whatever will be to happen.  

Sheila: Right.  Okay.  And then what about me?  The body type.  The body knowing.

Christa: Eights, nines, and ones.  And my hubby is in that triad with you.  And you guys are justice fighters.  You have a very strong sense of right and wrong in the body.  It’s a gut knowing that when you read books and they say—I read something this morning.  It said, “Follow your gut.”  And I’m like I’m not a gut type.  There is no gut.  It’s the head.  So Sheila can take that advice, and her gut will typically lead her in the right direction.  And so yet, sometimes they forget with that because they’re almost always right.  They forget, “I’m not God.  I don’t have all the answers, so I have to let God be the ultimate justice giver.”  And they can also forget that sometimes other people have the exact different viewpoint from them.  So just the humility of knowing there’s layering from cultures is all a part of it for this group too because then people are like, “You’re so good at this.  And yet, you’re gracious too.”  And that grace is a great peace for them with others and with themselves so that they don’t feel, “I have to do it all.  I have to be the only hero.”  And I love how you’ve partnered with so many people, Sheila, to be able to say, “It’s me and my crew.  It’s not just me.”  And that’s a gift.  And your daughters.  So you’ve really done some expansive work already.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Oh good.  Because I feel like you’re saying all this, I’m like, “Oh my gosh.  I’m like that.”  

Christa: Well, we’re all still like it because life is a journey.  And God is gracious.  But you have done a lot of that eight work.  We can all see that.

Sheila: Yeah.  So I need to leave justice to God.  But God.  Just leave it to me.  I can do this right now.  

Christa: Yes.  My favorite eight Scripture—I think shows an eight very clearly.  And I wrote a Bible study on her years back is Deborah.  And she was used by God to bring so much peace through her justice fighting.  So sometimes He does call you, obviously, here to use your gift.  So that is awesome.

Sheila: Right.  And speaking of Deborah, where is it?  You can get—everybody watching and listening.  You can get our be a biblical woman merch, which has, “Love like Ruth.  Hope like Anna.  Lead like Deborah.”  That’s one of the first ones.  “Prophesy like Miriam.  Believe like Elisabeth.  Pray like Hannah.  Teach like Priscilla.”  And on and on and on.  And, of course, my favorite one.  “Set boundaries like Vashti.”  And say no.  Anyway, you can that.  We will put a link in the podcast notes.

Christa: That’s a funny one.  The Vashti story.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yes.  When you buy our mugs or our tote bags—comes in—let’s see.  Insulated mugs, stickers, tote bags, canvas things for your wall.  It just helps support the blog, and it’s awesome.  So yes.  That is our different ways of knowing.  Then we also have three ways of survival or our basic instincts.  And this was interesting.  I’m not quite sure I entirely get this, so I’m curious to have you explain it.  So here we go.  You want to start with self preservation?

Christa: This is my favorite part.  I am so geeked out that you’re letting me talk about (cross talk).

Sheila: On yeah.  I love geeky stuff.  Let’s do it.

Christa: Okay.  Seriously, your audience is going to love this.  They probably—some of them know it too.  But if they don’t, let me be clear.  This can be an aspect of the Enneagram that you can use even without the knowing your type.  So it’s the self preserving instinct is what people who enjoy resourcing and take care of their wellness and self care.  They love living life with intention and health and fitness and all that stuff.  Then we have the one to one instinct.  And that is the sexual instinct.  And it’s also called the intimate instinct.  But either way sometimes you see it written up—that first one is SP.   This one is SX.  And it’s just this way of creating together and being able to be in that dance of marriage and love and also just one-to-one friendships.  It’s somebody who loves to have intimacy and depth and who says, “I go to a party.  And I get lost in a corner with somebody on a deep dive.”  And same thing in marriage.  And then we have that last group, the SO, the social.  And their favorite way to survive is to align with the group.  Their favorite groups.  And it just feels so good to be with their people who get them, who rally around them for social causes.  And we also really want to make sure we’re using all three instincts to thrive because in marriage, what I’ve noted in the book and otherwise, is you usually marry somebody with a different instinct than you.  And it’s very painful to try to grow into their instinct too because you’re pretty locked into yours most of the time.

Sheila: Right.    So I’m the sexual or one to one, right?

Christa: Yeah.  Of course.  With your books.  I love it.

Sheila: So that’s an eight.  What are the other two types?  An eight.

Christa: Eight.  You mean the eight sexual?  Or you mean the nine and the one in your triad?

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Is that what it is?  Okay.  The eight, nine, one.  So what’s Keith?  What’s the five?  Is that the social?

Christa: Oh, actually, it’s—you could be any of them with your type. 

Sheila: Oh, I totally missed that.  Okay.  I am so sorry.

Christa: Yeah.  I’m glad you clarified that because some of your listeners might not know that.  A self-preserving eight is very different from a sexual eight is very different from a social eight.  

Sheila:  Can you change?  Because I actually think that I am becoming a self preservation because I’m kind of cocooning a little bit I’ve found over the last few years as things have gotten more—because I really used to be more the one-to-one intimacy.  Let’s have those deep conversations.  Relatively few friends but very strong ones.  

Christa: Yep.  And you have the interest still.  And now you can go cocoon in your self pres and write and have that alone time.  And your overlay with your five, he brings you into that allowance.  You’re allowed to retreat.  You’re allowed to have some self pres.  So he aids you in becoming more expansive in that way.  We will burn out if we just use one instinct, and we don’t want to pass it on to the next gen.  So my kids know all about the instincts especially my daughters, who are older.  And it’s fun for them to be like, “Oh, I’ve had my self pres today, but I need my social.”  And it’s neat to be able to balance in marriage or in family.

Sheila: Right.  Oh, that’s cool.  Okay.  I’m going to read another quote from your book.  You said, “For instance, if you’ve helped your partner to become more self preserving over time and they’ve influenced you towards sociability, know whether you have a shadow of the pair bond between you also called the sexual, the intimate, or the one-to-one instinct.  All of which are abbreviated as SX.”  So it’s like yeah.  So you might have done these.  But what about this last one, right?  

Christa: Yes.  That’s my husband’s and mine is I’m self pres.  He’s social.  So we have date nights planned.  We talk about when we’re going to have intimacy.  And I know you offer that as suggestions in our books too because some of us need that.  Wes and I are whirling dervishes.  We’re taking care of our mental health patients for me and him with his actual patients in the medical world.  And if we’re just running around in circles getting our self care and our world care, we’re going to forget that middle.  And so I always say try to stack them where you’re first refreshing yourself.  Not as long.  Because I know even research tells us, caring for others is actually better for your mental health.  But briefly, at least, every day get the basics for you.  And then come into how can I care for my family and my spouse on the one to one and ask for the same care in return.  And then we can shine so much brighter with our gifts and our glow in the world socially.

Sheila: Love it.  Okay.  All right.  Let’s get a little bit more into the deep dive here.  What about the harmonic triads when it comes to conflict?  Because I don’t know that I like this one.  I think it’s very apt for me and very true, but this one was like yeah.  That’s a little too close to home.  But what does that mean?

Christa: I love it.  Yeah.  There’s just different groupings.  It’s like we can really see that some of the types are more prone to reactivity and passion in a conflict.  Some are more prone to just straight up logic almost absent or devoid of feeling in a conflict.  Let’s just linearly solve this.  And then there’s several types that are just very positive oriented when it comes to conflict.  So two, seven, nine positive.  One, three, fives linear, logical.  It’s also called the competency triad.  And then four, six, and eight to be more passionate and reactive.  So I love that you’re like, “Yes.  I see this.”

Sheila: Oh yeah.  

Christa: Yes.  But it’s so interesting because once we start to balance all three of those centers in our marriage conflicts, we do a good job of staying below 100 beats a minute like Gottman tells us to do.  And we actually start to solve problems.   It’s a beautiful thing.  But it’s a process to get there because we have these propensities, right?

Sheila: Right.  Right.  Okay.  Let’s say you know that you have a propensity to that.  How does knowing that actually help you in the moment to do something different?  Because this is my biggest problem, right?  I know I shouldn’t have chocolate cake for breakfast.  But it doesn’t—it’s not a question of—

Christa: Sometimes you take a bite.

Sheila: It’s not a question of not knowing I shouldn’t do it.  It’s just like, “No, Sheila.  Don’t.  Don’t do it.”  And in the middle of a conflict, yeah.  I do tend to—I do need to slow down.  I do need to get more logical.  I do need to get less reactive.  Does knowing that—that that is your propensity—how have you seen that help marriages?    

Christa: It’s such a good question because knowing is not enough.  We have to put it into practice.  You’re even taking us back to that other triad where we’re like, “I’m knowing it with my mind, but I’m also putting it in my body or on in my body work.  I’m also letting my heart be seen in it.”  So you do know something when you read a book.  And I invite everyone.  Yes.  Please get my book.  Please read it.  But then try it on bit by bit.  And there are so many nuanced ways you and your partner might do this.  You might say—something I do sometimes is I know a walk and talk with my husband is very regulating for both of us.  So if I want to talk out a conflict, I know he’s a logical type.  And so I will try to be logical when I’m trying to get my point across.  And that is not natural for me.  But I really want to get my point across, and I know that that’s how he’s wired.  Honestly, when I do that, he’s much more likely to come at me with positivity, which I love.  And sometimes we don’t even need to bring in that third emotion.  Reactivity.  Now other times—there’s a story in my book I won’t go into.  But I talk about how we brought both of our pieces in, and we were missing that third one.  And it could have cost us something huge.  So really the best is when you can be like I’m passionate for you.  I love you, but I also know to take my deep breaths while we’re talking.  And I would advise any four, six, and eight listening take a deep breath.  It will keep your heart rate down for the logic.  You won’t be able to have a regulated conversation if you’re above 100 beats a minute.  It just won’t happen.  But still let your spouse see and tell your spouse too, “Can you please show me a bit of passion too?  Because this is also good for us.  All three are good for us.” 

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  I love it.  And I think this is one of the big benefits too of the Enneagram versus other personality tests is it really is getting into your core motivations, your core fears, your core outlook on life.  I know that one of my core outlooks is anger, right?  It’s that gut thing.  And that’s a hard thing to live with.  

Christa: Yeah.  Yeah.  It is.  It’s the other side of your justice orientation.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so when you understand this about yourself, what is the process?  Like you said that what you want to do is you want to integrate the other types.  When you understand, okay.  Part of the reason you’re so exhausted is—for me, it might be anger over justice for other types.  It might be I am such a perfectionist, and I’m trying way too hard to get other people to acknowledge what I’m accomplishing.  Or for others, it might be just that drive to do things.  Whatever it might be, right?  What do you do when you realize my type is just exhausting me?  How do you get out of that?

Christa: You really have to—I think the very most basic work of the self care and window of tolerance will help you to be able to do that work.  I think there are just moments in our life when we’re sort of in our stuff, in our vices.  And we’re just humans, and God loves us anyway.  And so there is first over just a grace for loving your spouse and yourself the way you are today.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  Just put that as a blanket over all this.  And then what can we do as redemptive humans is we can say, “Oh, knowing this—knowing I get stuck in my anger/gut, let me bring in some heart today.  How can I be softer with my emotions today?  Let me bring in some thinking.  Let me take that deep breath.”  If we’re the thinkers, we can say, “I can be very stuck in this or that aspect where I’m in fear and I’m overly planning.  How can I release that to God?”  And that’s when Enneagram becomes a spiritual tool in a good way.  You don’t have to be a Christian, but it’s a great tool for Christians to be able to say, “I know this about myself, and I’m trying to be humble and release it to God here because this is going to take the Holy Spirit’s power to enable me to do a lot of this.”  And then, of course, you have to put in your work too.  You can’t just be like, “God, do it all for me.”  You have to be like okay.  For me, as a seven, in my gluttony.  So it’s like I know—let’s say I’m midday.  One thing I’ve learned is if I eat carbs all day—not just the morning but all day I’m going to not have as much to give to my family.  I’m going to be tired.  I’m going to need a longer nap.  And so one thing I can do about that gluttony is say, “Christa, take a deep breath.  What else do you need?  What else could help you to feel less anxious right now?”  And then I might say, “You know what?  I could use a walk around the block.  I could use a little five-minute cat nap.  I could use time in my favorite book.”  So finding what also self soothes you is what I think will help you to truly master your type more and more and be able to learn from the other types.

Sheila: Yeah.  That’s amazing.  I’ll just go get some more alpaca yarn next time I feel anger.  Just go feel it.  It’s all in my basement.  I’ll feel it.  Yeah.

Christa: Feel it while you’re doing your yarning, so it’s self soothing.  Your knitting or crocheting.  Whatever.

Sheila: Exactly.  So can you tell us about a story?  You’ve got so many stories in the book that were really interesting.  But is there one that really stood out to you of where this understanding of type really helped a couple get out of a conflict that was ongoing and helped them step back from it and just see a whole new way of approaching each other?

Christa: Yes.  I can, and I love this question.  I’m going to use the eight nine example couple because I didn’t use that one in my book.  But it’s the most common pairing type that I know of.  And so they often have this eight, who in those early stages of shine, will just give that nine a voice.  Like, “Oh my gosh.  You haven’t been heard.  We’re going to fix that.  We’re going to make sure you’re heard.  I’m your protector.”  The nine loves that.  Nines are peacemakers, and they’re like, “I haven’t been heard.  I’ve been quiet, and I’m not important.”  And there’s this part of me that when I work with the eight nine couples sometimes I’m like—as the helper, I’m like, “They’re not going to like that you just spoke up for them because they’re peacemakers.”  No.  No.  No.  They love it.  They’re like, “Nobody has done that.”  Nines are also justice fighters.  They’re just quieter.  So they’re like, “Finally.  Somebody to speak up for me,” and it just so empowers them. But across time as they build up and heal one another’s wounds, the eight is like, “Okay.  I’ve loved leading with you,” and the nine is now empowered.  And they’re very strong once they get empowered, and they’re like, “I’m good.  And I have my own opinions, and I’m starting to speak them out very loudly to you because I’m also a justice type.  And I’m awake.”  And then there’s a sense of what do we do here.  Now often the nine will kind of just withdraw again and say, “Oh that was painful.   The eight was reactive, and I’m going to go away and cover that up.  And go back to sleep.”  And the eight is like, “You can’t leave me out here in the open vulnerable.”  So you can see how these partnerships can hit the shadows.  Each in their own nuanced ways.  But what is beautiful is when the nine stays, uses their voice.  Eights love that and respect that.  And also when the eight can say, “All right.  But we don’t have to go at it all day.  We can rest.  We can take breaks.  I don’t have to be reactive all the time.”  And they find even more nuance patterns to truly thrive in.  It’s also a great pairing for owning a business together.  There’s a lot of power there, like I said.  So I just love to share that example of how a couple can rise and fall together to give people an idea of learning your type and your patterns can really assist you a lot.

Sheila: Yeah.  I love it.  Well, Christa, thank you so much.  Tell us when did your book release?   

Christa: October 3rd.

Sheila: Okay.  So it’s been out for about two weeks now, so that’s awesome.  

Christa: Thank you so much.  I’m so happy.  It’s hitting the shelves with lots of good Christian books.  And otherwise, you don’t have to be a person of faith to hear my book.  I tried to help people to know that too.  But I do write from a Christian lens, and I’m so grateful for this time on your show today.  I love having you as a guest too.  Thank you, Sheila.

Sheila: Yeah.  So you can find Enneagram in Marriage anywhere books are sold.  We will put a link in the podcast notes and, of course, to your podcast, Enneagram and Marriage.  I will put a link to that as well.  So thank you, Christa.

Christa: Thank you so much, guys.  This was awesome.

Sheila: I am so an eight.

Rebecca: And see I think I’m a four.  I think the people reading the newsletters every Friday will be like, “Yes, Rebecca.  You’re a four.”  But I think I’m a four.  I don’t know.  It’s so hard to tell.  My husband is a five.  1,000%.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so is your father.  So it’s like—

Rebecca: Yeah.  Which I know—okay.  Make the jokes.  Make the jokes.  Yeah.    

Sheila: All right.  So I have had a deluge of peer reviewed articles sent to me mostly by Instagram people.  

Rebecca: Yes.  Instagram people send us a lot of stuff.

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s great.

Rebecca: Our Instagram folks are real invested.  We love our Instagram folks.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so I’ve had—this is how we find out so much of our research.  I mean, obviously, we do lit reviews and everything.

Rebecca: Yeah.  But only for our specific research topics, right?  We don’t specifically research a lot of the stuff that we get sent articles about.  They’re kind of tangentially related.

Sheila: Yeah.  But I’ve just been sent a whole bunch of really interesting ones.  And some of them we’ve talked about in the podcast.  But I wanted to focus in on this one.  And it’s out of Spain and Frankfurt.  So I think the researchers were from both—from universities at both places.

Rebecca: Madrid and Frankfurt.  Very exciting.

Sheila: Yes.  And it is from the Journal of Marriage and Family.  And it was out in 2020.  This particular study.  And it’s titled The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender: Paternal Influences on Children’s Gender Attitudes.  So what it was trying to study is what do kids think about gender rules.  What do kids think about what men should do?  What women should do?  What men are like?  What women are like?  And they were looking at a whole bunch of different things.  The father’s attitudes about gender roles, the mother’s attitudes, whether the mother worked outside the home, who did the housework, et cetera.  And they zeroed in on the thing that mattered most.  And I thought this was fascinating.  Do you want to read the results?

Rebecca: Sure.  Yeah.  I’ll read the results here.  “Father’s time spent on childcare during childhood was associated with gender egalitarian attitudes in children by the age of 14 or 15.  The most powerful predictor of children’s gender role attitudes, however, was the amount of time fathers spent on housework during children’s adolescence.  Both absolute and relative to the amount of time mothers spent on housework.  Fathers’ unpaid labor at home was as relevant for children’s gender role attitudes as mothers’ paid labor in the work force.  These results held after controlling for maternal domestic behaviors and for the gender role attitudes of both parents.”

Sheila: Yeah.  Now what’s really cool about this study is that they were able to do something which very, very few studies can do.

Rebecca: Yeah.  They did a longitudinal, right?

Sheila: This is a longitudinal study.  Do you want to explain?

Rebecca: So there are two general kinds of studies.  There are cohort study and longitudinal.  Cohort studies are done at one point in time where you’re measuring people from different cohorts.  So for example, if we wanted to look at differences between people who are 2 years old today, 6 years old today, 8 years old today, and 12 years old today, I would measure them once at different stages.  That’s a cohort study.  It’s happening at one point in time that’s now.  We might look—and then look how age changes things.  But it’s only based on today’s time point.  A longitudinal study follows those same people over time.  If you start it with everyone is 2 years old in the year 2014 and then you follow them up through 2026 when they’d be 12 years old, right?  And so the study would be a 12-year—2 and 2014—12 in 2024.  Sorry.  I was thinking 4 in 20—but it would be a 10-year longitudinal study where you follow the same people.  And so you can actually control for a lot of things like, well, maybe people who were born earlier just had different early childhood experiences.  Well, we don’t have to worry about that because these are all the same group.  So it’s more powerful for certain types of studies.  It isn’t always possible.  So we’re not saying cohort studies are bad.  Just not possible.

Sheila: Yeah.  We did cohort studies.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  What we did was impossible.  It wouldn’t have been possible to do it as a longitudinal study with our budget and our timeframe.  

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: And so this kind of study is really, really cool because you can also tell that it’s not necessarily just that kids who are older today are just more or less likely to already have these attitudes.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And what’s cool about this one too is it was done by researchers in Frankfurt and Spain—Frankfurt and Madrid, but it actually is of Australian kids.  So there was a longitudinal study of Australian children where they looked every 2 years for 10 years at 2,796 kids born 1999 and 2000.  And so they were using the data from that.  So this is just really cool the way that you can use data from studies that other people have done.  And we’re going to be looking for ways that people can use our data in their own work too.  We’ll be announcing some of that later on.  But I just found this one really interesting because what it shows is that it doesn’t matter what you say to your kids if you’re not acting it out.

Rebecca: Yeah.  If you’re all pro, hey, husbands should be helping around the house just as much as women do.  This is we need to deal with mental load problems, all this stuff.  Even if you’re telling it to your kids, if you’re not walking the walk, they don’t listen as much which makes total sense.  It makes total sense.  We know that about other things.  Why wouldn’t it be true about this?

Sheila: Yeah.  And so yes.  Men doing the childcare when the kids are really little is really important.  But men doing the housework when they’re adolescents is absolutely key.    

Rebecca: And I hope that’s a really hopeful thing because I know we have a lot of people who deconstructed these ideas that the wife has to do all of this work.  And the husband just goes to work and then comes home, eats, and watches TV and goes to bed.   I’m sorry to put it that way.  But that is kind of how it is for a lot of people.  A lot of people deconstructed that when their kids are 4 to 11.  So hey, start doing laundry, guys.  Just do it now.  Just start now because a lot of this—the biggest predictor was what you did during adolescence.  If your kids are still in adolescence, you can help form their brain—their brain’s pathways of how am I supposed to act as a young man.  Or what should I expect from a partner as a woman, right?  You can still make a change even if they’re not two years old.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And when you make that change, you’re investing in your grandchildren.  Okay?  Because when your kids, especially your boys, when they actually are able to help with housework and they think that they should be helping with housework, then they’re going to have better marriages and their kids are going to be better off.  So when you help with housework—see?  I said that.  Isn’t that interesting that I said that?

Rebecca: See?  I think it’s funny because in truly equal homes we always say help with housework.  Connor helps me.  I help him.

Sheila: Yeah.  That’s true.

Rebecca: That’s the thing though because it is something where—it’s very funny.  It’s like once you get past the point where it’s not equal it actually does feel like you’re helping each other, but it’s actually mutual.    

Sheila: But it’s mutual.  Yeah.

Rebecca: It’s interesting.

Sheila: So when you do housework—we’ll just say that.  When you do housework, both men and women but especially men, when your kids are adolescents, you’re investing in your grandkids.  And you’re just setting the next generation up so good.  And this is something that—yeah.  You can change even now.  So I just thought that was a really interesting study, and it just shows that it doesn’t matter how much you say to your kids that we believe in equality.  If you’re not acting it out, they’re not hearing it.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And the other thing that we can kind of grapple with as parents—and I’m saying this also as a parent—is that we often think that our kid is the best thing in the entire world, right?  But we’re also seeing from data—

Sheila: Well, your kid is the best.  Your kids are the best.  

Rebecca: My kids are objectively the best.  But no.  No.  But seriously, we’re seeing from the data that more and more women are choosing singlehood rather than being in an unsatisfying marriage, right?  They’re not willing to marry men who aren’t helping around the house, who don’t pull their weight, who don’t have emotional maturity skills.  And so you’re not only just teaching them good things.  You actually are kind of buffering the mommy’s little angel idea where it’s like, hey, you don’t have to just worry if you’re being biased.  You actually are giving them the skills.  You can actually say, “No.  You know what?  My kids—the kind of person who they would be a good partner.  And I can objectively say that,” versus just being like, “Well, I love them, so someone else should.”  I think we, as parents, often do that.  And this is just such a good example of how we can practically give our kids the tools that they need and help them shape their worldview to be really great partners some day so that they are someone who someone looks at like, “Yeah.  That’s a no brainer.  Of course, I want a life with him.”

Sheila: Yeah.  So there you go.  Dads, do housework especially when your kids are adolescents.  But really all the time.

Rebecca: All the time.  Please.

Sheila: All the time.  Do housework.  And it has immeasurable benefits to everybody.  So yeah.  There you go.  And learn your Enneagram type because it can help get over some of the disconnect that you have too.  I really enjoy that process.  

Rebecca: I will say I listen to Connor’s facts rants a lot more now knowing that he is a five, and he appreciates that.

Sheila: Yes.  And if you want to know my husband, the five, the bird watcher, you can follow him on Instagram @drbirdnerd.  And every day he posts a new bird picture.  So that is my husband, the five.  And I appreciate him too.  So you can pick up Christa’s book anywhere you find books, of course.  You can also find The Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better.  We will links to those in the podcast notes.  And thank you for supporting us in our patron, by buying our courses or merch, or even by recommending our podcast.  So thank you for joining in to the Bare Marriage podcast, and we’ll see you again next week.

Rebecca: Bye,

Sheila: Bye-bye.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    Does her book have a quiz or some other way to figure out what one’s Enneagram is? Or do we need to find an online resource or a different book to figure it out? (Amazon reviews and info don’t really say that I could find.)

  2. Kay

    The Facebook comments warning everyone about the dangers of the Enneagram are just wild! My first reaction was to feel sad for folks that are that so scared of everything; what an exhausting and limiting way to live.

    But on further thought, maybe the Enneagram **is** dangerous to certain teachings. I am a 4 married to a 9. Want to know what absolutely did not work for us as a result? Hierarchy in marriage. Learning the Enneagram made me realize trying to force ourselves to fit into complementarianism boxes was harming our marriage; accepting the strengths and weaknesses of our types actually required us to reject that structure.

    In the same way, trying to force my 4ness into the gender stereotype of a 2 (the only church-accepted way to be a woman🙄) was actually pushing me toward my regression number and keeping me stuck and unhealthy. And the cold, stoic nature of the doctrine of total depravity was also deeply wounding to someone who already struggled with shame as my core wound, not mention my an inability to blend in and stop asking the deep questions.

    So yeah. Learning the Enneagram was dangerous to their theology, because it convinced me to leave it behind in order to grow and thrive as who I **actually** am and not who they wanted me to be. And I’ve never felt more whole. 🥰

    • Nessie

      Interesting! In the SBC spaces I was in, they loved the enneagram because it showed us women how we could best accomodate/understand our husbands’ numbers, and we could better see what we needed to work on in ourselves. I’ve rather avoided it because of that.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      THAT is super interesting! you could very well be right, Kay!

      • Pat

        I’m disappointed. I studied psychometrics long ago with Dahlstrom and Welch. So I definitely checked the research and the Enneagram seems to have little credible research and lots of negative studies. The Hook review of research can be found without a paywall.

    • Anna

      So glad for your freedom and growth – thank you for sharing that part of your journey.

      Just because someone is concerned about the enneagram, though, doesn’t mean they are “so scared of everything”, or living in an exhausting or limiting way. It also doesn’t mean that if someone doesn’t endorse the enneagram, that they have oppressive theology.

      I’ve found similar freedom and growth as you describe. As a survivor of multiple forms of violence, I have left behind dangerous theology and oppressive environments. For a wide variety of reasons (including reasons captured in some of the Facebook comments), I have concerns about the enneagram, and was disappointed to see it endorsed by Bare Marriage. I think there were some valid concerns expressed on the Facebook post, and would encourage Sheila and her team to take time to consider them.

      I’m glad you’re experiencing freedom and hope, and that you’re not trapped in shame any longer.

  3. TS

    Hi Everyone! This blog has been a wealth of information, spiritually edifying, and just a generally fun read for me for a few years. I’ve been lurking for a bit and found this topic an interesting one to delve into. I have heard a bit about the Enneagram, but have not delved into it. I know that Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna talk about a meta-analysis for your research. Is there any comparable analysis for the Enneagram? I’ve only been able to come across these.

    1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332604/
    2) https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/enneagram-personality-test-experts-explain
    3) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/people-are-strange/201909/your-favorite-personality-test-is-probably-bogus
    4) https://www.verywellmind.com/the-enneagram-of-personality-4691757

    Most research points to the benefits of the test in developing self-awareness, but there is less research into to support reliability or viability of the Enneagram when compared to other personality tests. The origins of the test are a bit murky as well, more so along with the research rather than spiritual. Really liked to know folk’s thoughts.

    • Hannah

      The link you included to the Psychology Today article (which is part of a series) was really helpful. I love the Bare Marriage podcast and the books Sheila and the gang have written, but I was a little disappointed in how much credence was given to the Enneagram. It is very pseudoscientific; personally, I am also very put off by any type of personality test that slots people into boxes (or letters, or numbers) without nuance. I think devotion to these personality tests can sometimes make people sound a little “culty”, and it is difficult for me to fully take what they’re saying seriously.

      In my opinion, these types of personality tests/inventories/etc. sometimes come off sounding like astrology. I think astrology can be “fun”, but it has no scientific basis or deeper meaning. Descriptions of signs can also be applied broadly, which is why people can feel very attached to their signs. If the description of the sign (or, perhaps, the Enneagram number) makes people feel like they have discovered a personal revelation, they are likely to feel very connected to it despite its actual applicability/truth.

  4. Rayna

    I loved this podcast and am very familiar with the Enneagram. As noted in Hannah, Anna, and Pat’s response, it is apparent that they actually are not familiar with it at all. It is the only test that actually reveals who you are-not how other people perceive you to be-but who God made YOU to be. People that have not read about it or looked into it nor taken the tests are the ones that are critical of it. It has helped me SO much. I have lived my entire life as a Type 2 (because that is what the church says all women need to be like) and I was always stressed out. Pretending to be one way around church people and run all these events, do everything a certain church way, but then return home and be a complete mess to my family. I was absolutely exhausted. My daughter looked into it and said, “oh mom, you are a 2!” (one rule with the Enneagram is that you never, ever type another person because many of us live not to our true self, but live how we are told to live). I read about a Type 2 and I just succumbed to it and said, yes. But, then I started reading about it and decided to go ahead and take various tests from numerous websites. They all led me back to a Type 6 wing 5. Oh my goodness! It opened my life up to be the person GOD made me to be, not what I was told to be! I had always wondered why my friend, who attended a different church but had the same “role” as me, was always so happy and loved her volunteer duties and I hated mine. It turns out she is a Type 2! So, with new knowledge about who I am, I am able to say “no” to some things now and “yes” to things that I know I can handle. It also was a blessing to find out one of my children is a Type 4. If you know anything about Type 4’s then you know how important it is to understand this type. Otherwise you will ruin them! This opened my eyes to his personality versus his siblings and I was able to work with him in such a way that he is understood and utilize his strengths that God gave him. It is has been a blessing. I believe people who are critical of the Enneagram do not know anything about it and are critical of it without knowledge.

    • Lucy

      So many red flags here – not least, the claim that anyone who disagrees/doesn’t support the Enneagram is “not familiar with it at all” and that they are critical because they have “not read about it or looked into it nor taken the tests”. Sounds like an attempt to silence anyone who raises concerns, and that does not contribute to a safe or healthy comments section.


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