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How the Enneagram Can Be A Tool for Strengthening Marriage and Relationships with Laurel Roberts-Meese | EU 19710 min read

November 27, 2023

Can the enneagram be a tool to deepen the love and understanding between you and your partner?

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Have you ever wondered what drives the different people in your life? Can the enneagram be a tool to deepen the love and understanding between you and your partner? How can a couple overcome and unite together in marriage instead of fighting and getting stuck in their “competing needs”?

In this podcast episode, I am very excited to have my friend Laurel Roberts-Meeseon, we discuss how the enneagram can be a tool for strengthening marriage and relationships.

Meet Laurel Roberts-Meese

Laurel is a therapist licensed in California, Pennsylvania, and Florida, with a decade of experience serving diverse communities, notably the LGBT+ community. Committed to enhancing mental health and well-being, she is also a graduate professor at Pepperdine University. She holds an MS in Counseling Psychology, is trained in EMDR, and founded Laurel Therapy Collective, where she manages her team of world-class therapists specializing in anxiety, trauma, burnout, and LGBT+ couples therapy.

Keep up with Laurel Therapy Collective on InstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn, and read her latest mental health advice on her blog

Summary

  • What is the enneagram?
  • How the enneagram can support strong relationships
  • Finding out your type
  • Understanding one another’s “competing needs”
  • A quick enneagram numbers recap

What is the enneagram?

The enneagram is a system for understanding how different people in the world are operating. This is basically like the core operating system that different humans have. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

The enneagram is a tool that you can use along your path of coming to better understand yourself, your personality and traits, and to deepen your understanding of the other people in your life.

When you understand what is driving other people, you can have some powerful relationships.

There are nine enneagram numbers called “types”. Many enneagram tests focus on behavior but the secret to a true enneagram test is whether it focuses on the person’s motivation, and why they do what they do.

If you look at the nine types, each type has a different motivation, and if you can truly understand your own motivation and the motivations of others, that is some powerful information. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

How the enneagram can support strong relationships

You can build a really powerful relationship and a very deep relationship when you have that kind of understanding of someone else. And, it’s also great as a parent or a manager. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

Once you can understand the motivation behind someone’s behaviors, you can make sense of their actions, and have a deeper understanding of what is important to them in life.

This type of skill is not only important in marriage but in any relationship, such as being a manager or a parent. Consider the enneagram an additional type of communication style; it doesn’t replace communication but it does add a new layer of comprehension.

What’s more important about the enneagram when it comes to relationships is that it encourages you not to personalize someone’s actions.

You’re like, “Oh, they did this because they are primarily motivated by [for example] maintaining peace”. And if you understand that that is someone’s motivation, yeah, they didn’t respond to your email because the email might’ve been a little inflammatory or the email was making a request that threatened their peace. It’s not about you, it’s about the fact that they value peace over everything else. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

When you don’t take someone’s actions personally you can then approach them and find out what is really happening instead of assuming you are the one they are pushing against.

Then you can make a good relationship appear where they feel seen and understood.

Finding out your type

Laurel doesn’t recommend enneagram tests because they often focus on behaviors instead of looking at the motivation that drives those behaviors.

Instead, she recommends that you do some research instead of believing the first thing you find about which number you could be. Listen to podcasts, read books, and talk to people who have experience with the Enneagram.

However, at the end of the day, it has to come from you being honest with yourself about which number you are if you really want to find out. No one can tell you because it’s a personal understanding and proclamation.

Laurel’s tip: usually the number and wing that best fits your core motivations might at first make you feel a little comfortable, but that means it’s probably hitting close to home!

We all have a little bit of most of the types but you’re going to have a dominant one, and then you’re going to have a wing that is right next to your number. And your type is your type for your whole life, because your primary motivation in life is going to stay the same. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

Understanding one another’s “competing needs”

The enneagram can again be used as a tool by couples in therapy, or on their own, to figure out what their core motivations are and their strongest “needs” in life; what they feel they “need” to be happy, safe, fulfilled, or secure.

Sometimes, each partner’s core needs might clash because one partner values security in peace while the other values security in finances, for example.

No one’s wrong in that situation, but you do have a situation where you’ve got to figure out what to do so that you both get enough of what you need. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

Laurel’s tip to married couples is to identify the issue: what does each partner really need or want to feel secure? Are they conflicting? How do these needs compete or conflict?

Only then can further steps be taken to resolve the conflict and allow each partner to be valued and taken seriously.

I hate the word “compromise” because it implies giving something away whereas if both of you get what you need, you’re both doing better. (Laurel Roberts-Meese)

A quick enneagram numbers recap

Type 9:

  • Maintaining peace and harmony are their primary motivations, as well as feeling connected.
  • They don’t have their ego attached to making people be at peace.
  • They might have learned to survive as a child by not taking up much space.
  • If they are unhealthy, they are afraid to take up space and blend into everyone else’s needs. If they are healthy, they can assert themselves while maintaining peace.

Type 1:

  • These are the changemakers in the world. They are visionaries and idealists and work hard to make their dreams happen because they care about positive change.
  • Doing good is often their primary motivation, although they can get impatient if change takes too long.
  • If they are healthy, they can be powerful and effective world leaders. If they are unhealthy, they can be out of control and wreak havoc.

Type 2:

  • Love is their primary motivation because they thought growing up that love was conditional.
  • When they are healthy they can care for everyone around them while caring for themselves. If they are unhealthy, they abandon themselves and solely focus on everyone else around them.

Type 3:

  • Success and being liked are often their primary motivations.
  • They are ambitious and they feel like they have to achieve to be liked.
  • If they are unhealthy they can be susceptible to vanity because they care too much about how they are perceived. If they are healthy, they can achieve great success.

Type 4:

  • Authenticity is the primary motivation for type 4. They want to be who they truly are while fitting in with their community.
  • They are sensitive and have a deep appreciation for complex emotions.
  • Often type 4s can pair well together in relationships as many of the other types don’t.

Type 5:

  • Taking care of their energy and building up on their knowledge are their primary motivations.
  • They are all about competence, information, and to conserve their energy.
  • Type 5s are curious people and like to niche down on subjects.

Type 6:

  • Security is their primary motivation.
  • If they are unhealthy, they are very insecure and over plan. If healthy, they are prepared and feel ready.
  • They could either be fully anxious or adrenaline-junky, but both aspects are underlined by anxiety.
  • They distrust authority.

Type 7:

  • To be content and free from pain are their primary motivations.
  • They try to avoid pain and chase happiness throughout life.
  • They are highly extroverted and energized but they struggle sometimes because no one can outrun pain in life.

Type 8:

  • Being in control, power, and autonomy are some of their primary motivations.
  • They don’t want to be perceived as weak.
  • If they are unhealthy, they can be bullies or dominant. If they are healthy, they can be great protectors.

Books mentioned:

Don Richard Riso – The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types

Suzanne Stabile – The Journey Toward Wholeness: Enneagram Wisdom for Stress, Balance, and Transformation

Useful Links:

Meet Veronica Cisneros

Veronica Cisneros | Empowered And Unapologetic Podcast

Hello, my name is Veronica Cisneros, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Marriage Coach, Course Creator, Retreat Host, Mother of 3, married for 23 years, host of the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast, and owner of a group private practice called Outside The Norm Counseling.

A lot of couples struggle with setting aside intentional time to connect and communicate. They yearn for meaningful conversations that don’t lead to arguments.

1 month away from divorce, I realized I had to do something different. For years I had compromised myself to meet the needs of my husband and my child, I lost myself and was about to lose my marriage. After years of personal growth and self-reflection, I not only reclaimed my identity, and celebrated 23 years of marriage but also helped hundreds of couples transform their marriage from feeling like roommates to experiencing a deeper love.

I am on a mission to help couples reignite the fire by providing them with the skills to have the relationship they deserve.

Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook community, or do the Workshop,  you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!

Thanks for listening!

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I’m Veronica, your new Boss Woman Mentor with no filter and no BS. 

I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, women’s coach, course creator, and retreat host. Married for 23 years, raising three kids, and I'm also the host of the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast. My jam? Helping high-achieving women thrive both at home and in the hustle of work. 

I've been there.

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