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How The Enneagram Boosts Connection In Relationships

Written by: Margot Zaher, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you ever wish you understood why you behave in a certain way and your partner behaves completely differently and even in ways that may drive you crazy? If you don’t understand why you and your partner behave the way you do and what drives these behaviors, then there is little room for change.

Understanding is the first step in becoming a change agent and consciously shifting old, outdated patterns that no longer work for you, your partner, or your relationship. Maybe you know your unhealthy patterns, but nothing seems to change.

One of the reasons you may be stuck is that you do not know what drives these patterns. You are only looking at the exposed pattern, like looking at the tip of an iceberg, and you cannot see the deep core drive that creates these patterns. Figuring out these core drives is the key to shifting old, unhealthy patterns that block connection with your partner.

Also, if you don’t fully understand what makes both you and your partner tick, then it’s difficult to establish a solid foundation that stands up to the test of stress, difficulties, and misunderstandings. Most likely, your connection with your partner has been established through experiences of sharing your heart, feelings, and past learnings with each other. While this may give you some understanding of why your partner behaves in certain ways, this kind of organic sharing will rarely give you the keys to truly understanding their inner landscape because they themselves are most likely unconscious of what drives their behaviors and actions. Your partner can’t share with you what they don’t know. This is also true for you. If you are not clear on what truly drives your behaviors, then you won’t be able to share your needs, desires, and wants with your partner.

Thus, the basis of your connection with your partner is built on a partial view of both of your inner landscapes and not the entire picture. When highly stressful situations arise or major life events and shifts occur, you and your partner may behave in ways that are foreign to each of you, making you both feel uncertain about how to navigate your interactions with each other or how to support each other. Since you only have partial knowledge of what makes each other tick, you may both become confused and not know how to unblock the situation to rebuild the connection. When you don’t understand each other, you can’t effectively navigate conflict or find solutions to your challenges. When you don’t know what each other truly needs to connect more deeply, you may revert to playing out old, unhealthy patterns like being distant or angry.

Lack of understanding of why you and your partner behave in certain ways is also one of the primary reasons that judgment shows up in a relationship. We naturally tend to judge those we do not understand. Our mind perceives the differences between our behavior and their behavior, and we may unconsciously categorize their behavior as less than or undesirable. In fact, we may even perceive the other as purposely doing things to undermine our needs. We may make up stories about our partners not truly loving us because they are not behaving in the ways we think they should.

When we understand why someone functions in a certain way and what drives them to make certain decisions, this kind of judgment can lessen. We can comprehend that this is who they are and that they are not purposely acting in a certain way to irritate us or to create disconnection. We can objectively explore our differences instead of getting upset or irritated by them. We can develop a deeper understanding of and eventually compassion for our partner’s different ways of being and doing instead of labeling these differences as wrong.

Thus, understanding is the key to deepening your connection with your partner. The Ignite Connection Method, that I use to support individuals and couples to enhance connection and understanding, solves this problem by incorporating a unique feature rooted in a model that maps out the different core drives and fears that cause individuals to behave in specific ways. This model is called the Enneagram. “Ennea” means nine in Greek, and the word “gram” refers to a diagram or model. Very simply put, it’s a powerful model that allows individuals to quickly understand what drives their core behaviors and those of their partner or other loved ones. There are nine Enneagram types, and everyone falls into one type.

As a certified Enneagram Coach, I’ve discovered how key the Enneagram is to bring to light all that unconsciously impacts our behavior. What makes the Enneagram different from more traditional personality typing tools is that it focuses on the why what drives the behavior instead of the outward behavior.

It helps individuals and couples uncover:

  • Key motivations and challenges

  • Behavioral blind spots

  • Core desires and fears

  • Relationship triggers

  • Natural relating styles

  • Relationship needs

Let’s examine a relationship between two individuals who are married to each other: one is a Type One and the other one a Type Six on the Enneagram. Prior to doing Enneagram coaching, this couple would easily trigger each other, leading to conflict and distancing. Thanks to the Enneagram they discovered why they were fighting, the strategies needed to remedy this, and they now enjoy a more loving and compassionate relationship built on mutual appreciation of each other’s differences.

For instance, one of the big watch out for these two types is that Type One, also known as the Perfectionist, is highly sensitive to criticism because they are working very hard to be perfect and do the right thing. Thus, if their partner tells them that they have messed up, they can easily be triggered especially if they feel they did not make a mistake. The better way of handling this is to explain that there is a problem in a general way (without blaming their partner) and ask the Type One partner what they think is a good solution since these types excel at fixing problems and want to make a positive impact on the world.

Another watch out is that the Type Six, also known as the Loyal Skeptic, may get triggered by the Type One’s natural tendency to judge and control their partner out of a desire to positively impact others. This may though make the Six want to hide certain aspects of themselves and not fully show up in the relationship out of fear of being judged. The preferred way for a Type One to communicate a judgment to Type Six is to suggest that they examine this perceived flaw and determine if it is something that supports them or not, instead of jumping to the conclusion that this needs to change.

Enneagram types also can naturally support each other. For instance, the One can help the Six create structure and routines that get them out of procrastination that is caused by fear. And the loyalty and devotion of the Six can help the One learn that they don’t have to keep proving that they are a good person to be loved by their partner. They can simply be loved without having to earn it by doing the right thing.

Discover your and your partner’s Enneagram types and how you naturally support and trigger each other along with easy strategies to create more connections with my personalized Enneagram Coaching packages. Learn more here.

Mention this article and receive $50 off any Enneagram Coaching package.

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Margot Zaher, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Margot, as an Empowerment and Relationship Coach, helps women in stagnant or troubled relationships break free of unhealthy patterns, shift fear into confidence, and reclaim their power so that they can experience deeper levels of connection and intimacy with their partner. Margot, who holds a Masters in psychology, is a certified professional coach, hypnotherapist, and EMDR Facilitator. Margot is the creator of the Women’s Empowerment Academy and the Relationship Reset Bootcamp which has helped hundreds of women over the last twenty years to reclaim their power in intimate relationships. She’s the author of the Amazon bestseller “The Golden Cage: from Entrapment to Empowerment” where she guides readers through a step by step approach to identify and break free of Life Cage’s, including relationship ones. After going from being stuck in troubled relationships to manifesting her soul mate, she uses her personal experiences to help women create greater intimacy, connection, and trust in their relationships. She has been featured in Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Bustle, appeared as a guest on numerous relationship podcasts, and has been a keynote speaker for the Broomfield Chamber of Commerce, American Women’s Business Association, Rotary International, and Kiwanis.



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