Are you struggling in your marriage? I know from experience that it’s all too easy to look at your relationship during a particularly stressful or turbulent season and feel completely helpless. If you think you’ve lost control, in a way, you’re right. Your partner is inherently flawed, and sometimes their hurtful words and actions can wound you to your core. No matter how hard you try, you don’t have the power to change them.
But there is good news: It’s not your job to change them. It’s God’s job! He intricately created you and your spouse to display His glory in different ways. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for helping us understand one another’s unique hardwiring, and the Core Motivations behind everything we do. This awareness can be a game-changer, providing a life raft during the worst of relational storms. It can guide us to better communicate, avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and show up for one another with more grace and compassion.
No matter your Enneagram Type combination, sin can make its way into your relationship. We are all broken people living in a fallen world, and that means struggles are inevitable. Even though you can’t change your partner, you can decide how you’ll respond to them. Will you compound trouble by reacting sinfully, or will you choose a better way? Will you do everything in your power to understand your mate, and encourage them in a way that points them back to the truth of the Gospel?
Here are six choices you can make to be a more loving and supportive spouse, no matter your partner’s Type. Whether your marriage is currently thriving or on the brink of failure, exhibiting these qualities can only help in bringing more restoration, harmony, and freedom in your relationship.
1. Choose Selflessness Over Selfishness
So many times, relationships become problematic because both partners are asking, “What’s best for me?” instead of “What is God doing in and through us?” Resist the temptation of self-centeredness, which erodes the heart and design God has for marriage. Even when it’s inconvenient, or you flat out don’t want to do it, take the time to look at things from your partner’s perspective and consider their wants and needs before your own.
2. Choose Humility Over Pride
Make the holiness of Christ and His commands the standard in your relationship. If you don’t, human nature will always cause you to set yourself up as the standard. Nothing exposes this tendency more than a conflict. Pride leads each partner to believe they are more righteous than the other, honing in on one another’s weaknesses and doing everything they can to make the other see them too. This keeps both people from examining their own hearts, owning up to their shortcomings, and pursuing the lasting growth and transformation that only comes through Christ.
3. Choose Intimacy Over Isolation
We were created to be in relationship, and healthy relationships cannot be independent. When struggles come, our natural response is to move away from our partner. But in so doing, we miss out on one of God’s principal means of provision. Even when it’s hard, and everything in you wants to run away, press into intimacy, bravely allowing yourself to be authentic and vulnerable with your partner. You weren’t made to do life alone!
4. Choose Curiosity Over “Assumicide”
From my experience, the act of “assumicide” is so often what gets in the way of compassion and leads to the most conflict in marriages. Assumicide is the act of assuming you know why your partner says or does something, but a wrong assumption can hurt your spouse and the relationship. Even if you’ve been together for 75 years, stay curious about your spouse, their internal world, and the lens through which they view the world. If you make yourself the source of wisdom, you’ll miss out on the humble, teachable attitude that is vital to a thriving relationship. Remember, one of the main reasons God put you with your spouse is so you can complement and learn from one another, making for a richer adventure together!
5. Choose Lasting Fulfillment Over Temporary Satisfaction
When you try to find contentment outside of Christ, you go in one of two directions in your relationship. You’ll either become disinterested in your spouse when you feel they interfere with your happiness, or you will look to your partner to be your main source of your joy. Spoiler alert: neither direction leads to a thriving partnership or deep spiritual walk.
6. Choose Alignment with the Gospel Over Misalignment
When we’re misaligned with the Gospel, our minds and hearts wander from our true identity in Christ, and we try to control arguments and issues in our own strength. But when we’re aligned with the Gospel, we know, believe and trust in the finished work of Christ, and our behavior is a reflection of our identity as His children. If we reject God’s wise authority and replace it with self-rule, we expect our spouses to become our subjects, submitting under our authority. Are you trying to dominate your partner and have them submit to your rule, or are you seeking the sovereign will and authority of Christ in your heart and relationship?
If you’re currently struggling in your marriage or other close relationship, it could be because you’re falling into some common sin traps. It’s time to choose something different. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the areas where your relationship has gone astray, and where you may have caused harm to your partner. Then go to your spouse and ask for forgiveness. Though it can be hard to face the truth, it’s the first step toward lasting growth and change.
God is a good Father, and He won’t desert you in this process. Ask Him to meet you right where you are, and to show you how to be the best husband or wife you can be. Relying on His word and the powerful tool of the Enneagram, you and your partner can grow into the best versions of yourselves and fulfill His specific calling on your relationship.
Beth McCord is the founder of Your Enneagram Coach, a community designed to be a safe place for individuals to explore a Christ-centered Enneagram. In her new book, "Becoming Us", Beth and her husband, Pastor Jeff McCord, provide a roadmap for couples to break free from unhealthy patterns, align their marriage with the Gospel, and grow into the couple God designed them to be. Learn more at BecomingUs.com.