We all strive to have better relationships with others. After all, we are social animals who live for that connection. But we can only truly build those relationships when we know ourselves. Fortunately, the world is ripe with tools that can help us know ourselves and others. In this episode, Julia Gentry and Travis Gentry discuss how to get more out of your marriage using the enneagram. It is more than just a personality test; it is an emotional gut check. It offers crucial information on your and your partner’s personalities, helping you understand why you do what you do. So take advantage of learning about this tool in this conversation. It just might be the key to improving your relationships as well as your business and life.
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How To Get More Out Of Your Marriage Using The Enneagram
In this episode, we’re talking about the Enneagram and how it helps in business and marriage.
Also, in life in general. It’s taken me years to get to this point where my husband will talk about the Enneagram live. Good job. You’ve come so far. To his point, I love this tool. That’s what we’re going to call it right out of the gate. It’s a tool in our tool belt to know ourselves and other people better. We will also say we are not experts on the Enneagram. We are just two people using it. Me using it more than him.
Let’s be very clear. Julia is using it and after several years, I’m warming up to the idea of using it. She has been using it for quite some time.
What you would know about a four is only a four wouldn’t want to use it because they don’t identify with being a number.
How long did it take me to do it?
Truly, three years. I was asking you.
“I don’t want to be put in a box. Don’t call me a number.” That was my whole thing of like, “That’s great. You can take the test and identify yourself as something. I don’t want to be identified as anything, let alone a number on this system that you call Enneagram.” It took me a while to be open to it and then I was like, “Let’s see what this is all about.” Surprisingly, there are certain little things.
He almost said, “Here’s a basic fear of the four that they have no identity.” He didn’t want to take the test because then it would put them in the box and nobody would put a four in the box. We’re not the experts. We are just two people who have still various perspectives on this. We are not an affiliate link. We’re not getting anything by doing this. We’re going to give you a tool that has been super helpful for me. Off the charts personally, for me as a person, I’ll share some of my story with that. There’s a book called The Road Back To You, the Enneagram. It truly has been that to me. It helped me know how to approach Travis better whether he knew I was thinking about this or not.
All of a sudden he is like, “My wife is awesome when it comes to me.” I know because I’ve studied him on paper. It helped so many people that I work with as well. What I will also say to anyone out there who’s like, “I don’t know what it is. It’s demonic. I’ve heard different things about it. I’ve taken all these personality profiles.” It is not a personality profile. It is an emotional IQ gut check. It helps you understand why you do what you do, which is amazing because often it’s easy to find ourselves doing a lot of the same things. I’ll put myself on blast, my control and anger issues.
I can feel a little numb like I’m here but I’m not here. I started to think, “That’s the way that I am.” I had no context to understand why I did that. I found myself feeling shame because I was the only human on the planet that must ever do this. I can’t control my urges or figure out why I can’t get focused. When Travis is like, “Pick the one thing to focus on,” I’m like, “No, that’s horrible. I want all the things. Don’t tell me the rules. I like to break them all.” I found out why. It’s because I’m eight.
Everything that we talk about on this show is to get a new perspective and maybe allow you to rethink. That’s all this show is for. It’s not to tell you how to think or that this is exactly the tool you should use and how you should use it. It’s another tool. Whether we’re talking about marriage, food or investments, these are our experiences. These are different ideas. We’re consistently looking for new ideas or tools. How do we become better as a couple, as a parent, in business and life in general? That’s what this show is all about. We’ll have some fun with Enneagram because I don’t know it nearly as well as Julia but it’s also fun sometimes. When we meet someone, we hang out with him a couple of times and then she’ll say, “That’s a seven.”
I’ll be like, “Who else is a seven?” She’ll say, “Your mom. My mom. This person.” I start to connect the dots of there are similarities in how people act when they’re under stress or healthy. That’s the premise of the Enneagram. Do you want to talk about marriage first and then how you’ve used it and help me to understand how we maybe communicate or do intense fellowship better?
If you hadn’t read Intense Fellowship, this will help you in intense fellowship with anybody. There are two people in a conversation, yourself and the other person. You don’t know where you are mentally and emotionally and then also how to track with someone else. You and I tend to be more dominant, upfront and be like, “Let’s get this out on the table.” I’ll chase you to have a conversation. It’s sometimes easy. When you don’t have a context of the way that someone is processing something, you will be in front of one another.
We’ve done this with other couples or even our parents who don’t like confrontation, process differently, they’re a little bit more of the peacemaker, want to help or they’re nice. There are all these different dynamics. The insight to this is having more context in regards to A) My responsibility in how I’m showing up and not just settling for, “That’s the way that I am.” B) Having some context of like, “I understand who’s in front of me and not that I’m trying to just accommodate to who they are. I don’t want to lower my standards to accommodate for their inability to use their words.”
If I know that this person will use some of these terms, “I’ve never heard of the Enneagram,” then Google it or they’re a peacemaker, they’re going to be very uncomfortable with some conflict. If I come at this person in an overbearing somewhat aggressive way I could, if I wasn’t super aware, they’re going to shut down or say yes to appease me and not mean yes. We’re going to be disappointed 1 week or 1 month later because their guess didn’t mean yes. They were afraid.
Let’s back up because you made a good point. We’ve been talking about it for quite some time. At a high level, what is the Enneagram? We’re talking about numbers but for someone that has no idea and never heard of the Enneagram, YouTube or google it. You can research it on your own but what high level so they can get the context of what we’re talking about?
If we could go back to the idea that every thought that we have creates emotion and it’s our emotions that create our actions, it’s cognitive behavioral therapy. The Enneagram would help us understand what and where our emotional state is. If you were to say something like, “I need you to focus on one thing,” and all of a sudden, I feel this intensity and almost this anger of like, “Don’t control me,” not that I ever have but if I did, I would be able to go from an Enneagram perspective, “That’s interesting. My emotions of anger are telling me that I don’t want to be controlled. I didn’t know why.”
An eight, when you read about it, doesn’t like being controlled. The Enneagram helps me understand where my emotional EQ is. There is a grid of nine different numbers. You’ve got the reformer, helper, achiever, individualist, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger and peacemaker. Everybody falls into a certain number. We’re not going to get into all details. There are wings. There are a lot of different ways that you could take this but all of us fall into one of nine categories.
Strongly. You have a wing. You have the dominant one and the below one that you can swing to. When you’re healthy, you swing to another number. When you’re unhealthy, you swing to another way. The dominant one is the center.
It is your main number. There are going to be numbers that fall underneath it. You’ve got the wings, growth zone and stress zone. All of which we’re not going to get in too much in the weeds but it is super incredible to unpack because there are a lot of dimensions to this. Disclaimer, what I was trying to tell Travis from the very beginning is though he’s a 4 and I’m an 8, he’s not just a 4 and I’m not just an 8. We’re more than our numbers and they give incredible context.
That’s why it took me so long to take it because reading through it, that’s what I don’t like, “Don’t put me in a box or confine me in any area of my life.” When you tell me to take a test and it’s going to spit out a number and that’s who I am, that doesn’t work well with me. What I would highly encourage and challenge everybody reading, if you haven’t done it for yourself, especially if you’re in a relationship or marriage, both of you take it and then read through it out loud to each other. You’ll be surprised how there’s a lot that it’ll tell you about yourself and certain things that you know but not maybe at a conscious level about your spouse.
It’s incredible because when we finally uncovered that you were a four, I remember being in the car and looking at you going, “Is this who you are? Do you resonate with anything?” It was mind-blowing to me because whom your personality watching you, you are so dominant, intellectual and tactical but you are so in and such a processor and not, I don’t want to say emotional, like you’re just a roller coaster but you can tell that you feel all the feels. For instance, Travis and I are out on a hike and he’s like, “Do you feel this?” I’m like, “Yeah. I’m hungry. Is that what you’re asking?” I’m trying to tap into the zone and I’m like, “It’s green trees.”
“My muscle is hurt. I feel that. What else are we trying to feel?” I’ll speak for myself, I think everybody thinks or feels like me. When I’m out in nature, which is my happy place, I feel like there’s an energy out there. When we have traveled the country and I’m in different environments, there’s an energy that I pick up on. I feel.
I try to rub up next to it.
Every time I would say that I think Julie was filling it and it’s understood that she doesn’t in the same way that I do. It helps you to understand in different situations whether you’re feeling something emotionally, when you’re in an intense fellowship conversation and how you’re responding, what you’re feeling relative to the other person and how you’re communicating.
Even if I’m trying to get a response out of you the way I would want the response is that’s not how it’s working you’re processing it. That’s why going into intense fellowship is hard at the beginning until you start to understand each other, the love languages, Enneagram and all the things like, “I could get more out of this conversation if I understood Julia and how she responds and her emotional state, not my emotional state.”
You said, “I can get more out of this conversation if I understand Julia.” This is huge when you’re in a relationship. Not only can you get more out of it when you understand the person sitting across the table but you can get more out of it when you understand yourself and start to realize, “This is a gift.” Even as you dive into being forward, you’re the smallest percentage of the population. You start to realize, “There’s so much to get to know about me.” I feel like all of us are comparing ourselves to everybody else, who we should be, could have been, Instagram or all the things and we’re getting farther away from ourselves and knowing the beauty, strengths, weaknesses and tendencies in ourselves.
I feel like we could be getting so much more out of ourselves if we knew ourselves and we’d be getting so much more out of our relationships if we knew the person on the other side of the table and the context, not even their experiences and stories but for me to know when we go out and you’re looking at the beauty and nature, I like to go because I try to see it through your eyes. He’s like, “Do you want to go somewhere?” I’m like, “No, I’m good here.” I’m not going to generally feel differently here than I would there.
I have my feelers. I’m being a little dramatic here but for me, a lot of times, I like to go with you. I don’t want you to know that I’m asking this. I’m going to give myself away but I will ask you, “What do you feel?” I know you are feeling it. I’m like, “I want to know what you are feeling at this moment so I can tap into it.”
I recognize I don’t tell Julia how I feel unless she asks because it’s not the same way as going on a hike with the kids and there are these 6 or 7 waterfalls. I know that I’m feeling energy relative to if you were there with me. It was just me and the kids. It’s interesting to me how people can perceive different environments and conversations, whether it’s intense or not, whether it’s a hard conversation that someone’s needing to have and why they avoid it. It gives you an understanding of someone and why they do what they do. It doesn’t define you because it depends on if they’re in a healthy state or not a healthy state.
It gives you a range of, “Maybe I can identify why they’re not wanting to have this conversation,” because Julia tends to have a hard conversation. She’s like, “Let’s do this. I love the hard conversations.” There are a lot of people and we have family that doesn’t. They avoid the hard conversation at all costs. That’s when sometimes the person’s all riled up to have a productive, intense conversation and the other person is running from the conversation and hiding. The other person can judge them and get angry because it’s like, “Let’s do this.”
It’s interesting because I’ve noticed we have different internal commitments or these goals in our relationships. I would’ve said unconsciously that my goal with you is, “I want to make my husband happy.” I’ve honestly heard many people say that about their relationships and it’s not working. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst things that we could want for someone across the table because then I’m making it my responsibility to make you happy, which is epic fail number one at the sacrifice of myself.One of the worst things we could want for someone across the table is making them sacrifice themselves to make us happy. Click To Tweet
We’re going to be talking about Enneagram and processing, getting people to go like, “I’ve done that too.” Here I was trying to make Travis happy for the sake of myself. Also knowing that our happiness looks very different. I don’t like feeling sad or any of the emotions. Sometimes you can feel it because you’re discerning. When you read about a four, you are okay in melancholy like a little bit like Alanis Morissette. She is four. Travis, you do well. Even the harder darker spots and you don’t run on high exasperated energy all the time. I would watch that thinking, “He’s in hell,” but I was like, “Good morning.” People are wanting to make you happy.
Show no sign of weakness being the eight and let nobody know that you’re having any emotions other than that a 10 out of 10. I’m trying to make you happier not realizing that you’re cool. You don’t have to feel the highs of highs all the time. I’m forcing and it’s not working. You don’t like a happy pitch in the morning. You like the variety of emotions. You’re very comfortable with the different changes in scenery. That was insightful for me because my commitment to making you happy was not serving you and me.
Traveling is a big one. Most people don’t know and I’m working on it. You’ll know when I’m happy because I tend to not have these huge swings of emotions like, “I’m so happy. I’m excited,” run around and all these things,” and then, “I’m so sad.” I tend to stay pretty calm even though inside I’m feeling it all. I feel at home when there’s variety and adventure, “I don’t know where we’re going but we’ll know when we get there.” That stresses and amps you out.
It’s helped you grow when we went and traveled the country over the last few years. Recognizing and understanding that, we can help each other through this process because if I don’t have those adventures, if I don’t go out, do, try new things and drive a different way home and it takes another five minutes like we were driving the other day and you’re like, “This is probably the longer way.” We’re not going to rush to get there.
I said, “Are you driving for the sake of adventure or efficiency?” Sometimes you look at me like, “Do you want to drive?” I’ll be like, “Are you going the long way home?” It’s a jerky answer. This is to get more out of our relationships. Being eight, we can be a jerk. “I know the fastest way to get there. You are wrong. Let’s just walk this out.” This is how it could go wrong.
I know this about myself and I know your makeup too. I almost have to check myself because I could easily say, “What are you doing? This is not the right way.” We save more because he would look at me and either go, “Would you like to drive?” It won’t end well. My question was, “Is this for the sake of adventure or efficiency?” He looked at me and didn’t answer. He looked at me like, “You know the answer. It was for the sake of adventure.”
It’s a new road I’ve never been on before. You see that in people’s relationships and going back to what we were initially talking about as far as if you don’t stand up and you say something, you’re going to live the life trying to please me at the sacrifice of you. It’s eating you alive. There are certain times that you’re like, “Let’s be efficient,” as opposed to driving around and checking out new roads. That’s an understanding that we have or an adventure, “I don’t want to go on this adventure but take 1 or 2 of the kids or go by yourself. I don’t need that but I know you need that.” That’s where it’s helped our relationship not swing to one side or the other. If we were traveling full-time, 1) We’d both be amped out with five kids but 2) That’s not what makes you happy. That’s not your happy place. It is mine. It’s the understanding of like, “We can both get what our heart’s desire is.”
The more that we have spent individual time owning what our desires are, why we think what we think and why we feel what we feel, you and I have done a decent job of realizing, “I need to own my mental, emotional, spiritual and relational state before it can do this well with you.” It’s to your point about the RV and I heard this from so many people who say, “I wouldn’t have done that. I couldn’t have done that. You know my control issues. I’m just a planner.”
I’m not saying that everybody needs to go on an RV but if I accommodate for that like, “I’m a planner. I’m a nine,” and I’m playing the devil’s advocate, if I keep saying that I’m a controller, then I would have never realized. All my control issues were flip-flopped and upside down. Though it’s not sustainable, it was such a good journey for me because I started to learn that I have become a learned controller. Control protects me, keeps me safe and makes me feel strong. All of my reasons for wanting control are as opposed to me being a controller. It helped me realize that my aim as a person as an eight is surrender.
If I don’t put myself in situations that are outside of my control and heal in the areas that I crave control, give up the reins and finally surrender to God, myself, to you and life is how it’s unfolding, then I’m not going to find true strength. I wouldn’t have known that had I not had this tool, the opportunity for an upgrade and all of that. Though I still can sense my tendencies as a controller and it does serve in a lot of ways like I know what I like and want, it helps keep me on brand and on point and all of these things but I have to commit daily to the art of surrender. That’s my aim and my main mission.
You have to get challenged. Growth happens outside your comfort zone. A lot of people tend to get frustrated and that’s when intense fellowship increases, avoidance, whether it’s money problems or sex problems within a marriage, it’s the avoidance of those conversations. Growth happens by having those conversations. It’s like living in a comfortable hell as to uncomfortable heaven.
I love that growth happens outside our comfort zone and then you’re like, “Does it?” If you look at the Enneagram or if I watch my behavior and you probably way more than most people do but I would love to say that in uncomfortable situations, it’s always an opportunity to be like, “I surrender. No, I’ve had a ton where I isolate or freak out.” You’ve seen me burn a bridge in a moment. I know that I can see myself doing it.
You’ve even gone, “You lit that thing on fire.” It was because the growth moment happened. It got me outside of my comfort zone and I didn’t have the emotional tools to go, “I have two choices. I either surrender and take a deep breath or I stress out and burn this bridge.” This is why I feel like understanding this tool is so huge because I didn’t know that I had a choice.
With all of those moments prior, all I knew was I saw myself as this controller burning the bridge, needing nobody and keeping moving forward without thinking about it as opposed to, “What if I just surrendered?” I took a deep breath and stood with my whole heart. I didn’t know that was an option, nor did I think it was safe. Growth happens outside the comfort zone. That’s awesome for our magnets on the fridge but it’s not awesome when you don’t know what to do with yourself.
Most people avoid any at all costs any uncomfortable feeling. Whether it’s a conversation with a coworker, your spouse or your kid, you avoid it as opposed to saying it. It’s like, “I’m just not a good communicator.” You’re like, “Says who?”
The person who doesn’t practice.
That’s how you identify yourself and what you carry with you. “I’m not a good communicator so I can’t have that type of conversation with you.” I didn’t grow up in a house where we over-communicated. We under-communicated. I’ve learned how to because what I want is more important. I need to communicate and have some conversations to figure out, “I can’t just expect someone to be whom I want them to be without a conversation.”You can't just expect someone to be who you want them to be without a conversation. Click To Tweet
Especially your kids, you have to have those conversations, whether it’s apologizing because you blew up at them, over-communicating and talking to them so when something happens to them or they’re in an uncomfortable situation or get peer pressured, they feel comfortable to come to you to talk because you’ve practiced that habit of communicating.
What’s interesting about knowing this and even the title of that book The Road Back To You is that on some levels, this is prophetic language. I can even notice that if you are starting to get a little critical or you’re disconnected, it’s easy to start making that mean something about me, judge you and do all the unhealthy things that I would do as opposed to going, “This is not who he is.”
Why? “It’s because I know who he is on his best day.” Not just the Enneagram on paper, though that helps because I look at who you are on your best day, “This is why I think it’s so cool. This is why I love my husband because on his best day, he’s profoundly creative, inspiring, self-renewing, super creative and aware. He’s on a search for the essence of life. He’s sensitive, intuitive, gentle and compassionate.” That’s my husband, everybody.
What I have to find myself doing is in a moment that if you’re being critical or disconnected, instead of going, “He’s just disconnected because of this. He’s critical as this,” and shutting down, I have to go, “That’s not who he is. He’s creative, inspiring, self-aware, introspective, sensitive and intuitive.” I need to approach you like that. That’s for our kids and ourselves.
It’s always like the thing under the thing. I was feeling amped and stressed. I felt like I was all the things that I felt confined to. I start to take it out on you or nitpick little things but it had nothing to do with anybody else but myself like, “I need to get out of her and go somewhere like go on an adventure or get out in the woods.” I took two of the kids. We took off, went camping and hiked. It was refreshing for me. It’s identifying and understanding that most of the time, most conflicts are not what you think it is. It’s helping you to understand a few things about who you are. You can say, “It has nothing to do with you but if I don’t leave, do you want to go with me?” “No.” “I’m going to go. I’m going to take a couple of the kids and get out because I need to get refilled.”Most of the time, most conflicts are not actually what you think it is. Click To Tweet
The cool part about that and watching that process is there’s a level of taking responsibility for what we all need. For me, that wouldn’t go fill my soul. I had to intentionally consider that moment because you asked, “Do you want to go?” I knew that was not going to fill me up. If I’m depleted or a little bit close to empty, doing that is going to amp me out and is not going to maximize what I need. When I find myself in this highly combative, confrontational and controlling ruthless dictator place, not that I ever am but if I was, I knew that doing that wasn’t going to serve me. I wouldn’t say that I’m always so conscious of this happening but it’s enough to practice that it becomes so natural to be able to encourage you in your path of getting out to the adventure.
For me, I needed to hunker down and get back into a state to truly surrender, reflect and be in my home. The aim of this relationship is connection. I have to know a heavenly level. Prophetic is a big word but for the sake of not finding another word, “Who got created you to be at your best?” We have to start making decisions from that place. I need to approach you as the man that I know you are and I need to approach myself as a woman that I know God’s created me to be. I then need to start living like that before I feel like that.
I would highly encourage you to YouTube and google. Take it if you haven’t taken it. Have your spouse, if your kid’s old enough or your business partner take it. Talk about it. It’s one of the tools that we use for growth. What I would also say is if you’re not a part of our Facebook community, get involved, take the test and maybe put what number you are. We can start to have some conversations in the Facebook group about who you are and maybe certain things that stand out to you that resonate after you read and identify which number you are.
I do have friends that once I want to be their friend, within a week, I’m like, “If you want to be my friend, you have to take this test.” It’s always funny because once they come back, they’re like, “I’m a six. I’m a two.” I’m like, “That makes so much sense why you take forever to get back to me or why you go, ‘I don’t know. Whatever you want.’ I get you now.” I love you as a four.
I love myself as a four too. That’s what a four would say. We appreciate you. We’ll see you next time. Thanks.
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