Blog post graphic Enneagram and patterns in marriage part 2 podcast episode 31

Enneagram Patterns in Marriage with Jamie & Chris Bailey, Part 2

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Hello, Beautiful Soul. I’m so happy that you are here! Today we will continue my conversation with Jamie and Chris Bailey of Expedition Marriage. If you haven’t seen the first part yet, I encourage you to go back to the previous post so that what you read next will make more sense. This was just a wonderful conversation, and I’m so glad it happened. Before we move on, I I want to mention that you’ll see me or Chris and Jamie mention “the club”, and this was the Christian Enneagram Club. It was a members-only space or community where I was helping people grow using the Enneagram month to month, and I hosted this for about two years. It is coming to a close, which is why I bring it up, because you sadly won’t be able to join it since it doesn’t exist anymore. So that’s the only reason that I bring that up; now let’s continue this conversation with Jamie and Chris Bailey of Expedition Marriage.


Chris: I’m going to highlight another pattern, as far as Sixes with a lot of different numbers go (it could be a Seven, could be a Nine, etc). The other number has some ideas, like “Hey, you know what, it would be fun if we do this!” or “It would be neat if we did this!” And the Six, because they see ahead and have that capacity, it will appear like they’re shooting holes (in those ideas). But really what they’re saying is, “I love you so much that I want you to be successful, so I want you to be aware of the pitfalls coming up.” But since that’s not what is understood and received, the Six is seen as a “Debbie Downer” or a “fun-sucker” or even a dream killer! But once there’s an understanding that the Six is not trying to kill the fun or suck away everything, but is trying to help there be success (because there are things Sixes are gifted from God to be able to foresee!), then you can be as successful as possible and be prepared for those things. And once we can start to see that, then we are able to move even further forward, instead of the other number just deciding, “Well, I guess I can’t dream around here.”

Jamie: Yeah, because that was a problem we actually ran into earlier on in our marriage. Chris is a dreamer, and he likes to make big things and think through how he can make this bigger and better. And I’m like, “Oh, but you can’t do that because of this.” And I’ll be right, you know, but the goal is not to squash the dream; the goal is that we can do this, and this is how it will best be done. But as soon as I start saying, “But have you thought about this?” he feels like, “Well, there goes my dream again.” So even before we learned the Enneagram, what I learned to do is to tell him, “I’m just trying to make it better.” And at first he would stress me out with his dreaming, because he would have these big plans, and I would be considering how much that would cost, or that we didn’t have what we need to get it done, and I would get overwhelmed. But what I learned about him is that he’s a Nine; he doesn’t always execute what he dreams about. So I know that I can freely allow him to dream, because the majority of the stuff he’s not going to actually do! He just needs to dream, and I’ve learned that I don’t need to figure it out; just because he’s saying it doesn’t mean it’s something that he has a plan to execute. And he’s learned how to receive me saying, “If we want to get it done right and well, and avoid all the obstacles…”

Another example is a Type One who has the need to know that they are good enough. So if you’re going to have dinner with a One who has just prepared it, and you ask something like, “Why did you boil it instead of baking it?” And boom, that One is instantly mad and hurt, because they heard “You’re doing it wrong, and what you did is not good enough.” And you could be standing there wondering what just happened! So having the information that a Type One is highly self-critical and personalizes a lot, then as soon as you ask, “Why did you do this?” and they respond in a big way, you now know that you don’t need to defend against that; you just need to reassure them: “This is delicious. I was just wondering, it was just a question.”

And for a Type 2, if they feel like they’re an inconvenience, you may find a strong reaction with that. When you see that reaction, remember that you don’t need to defend or fight against that; you need to lean in towards it. That’s kind of what we want to go with.

We actually have a resource for this; if you go to Expeditionmarriage.org/enneagram, there is a free download that you can get, and that way you can sit down with your spouse and go through this with them. It’s a bit of a formula that we have that will help you know, for each of you your basic desires and basic fears. You want to identify those and talk about those.

Chris: Right, because we want to create a new pattern; we don’t want to continue in having these triggers where our spouse does this and triggers us so we react like that and keep going round and round. So first off we have to recognize the trigger, and that’s what the first part of this resource is. “When my spouse does (blank) I do (blank).” That’s the pattern, but that’s just the surface.

Jamie: So in our example, it would be “When my spouse gets anxious and irritable, I minimize.”

Chris: Once we’ve identified that part of the pattern, let’s dig a little deeper. The next section says, “When my spouse does (the same thing), I feel (this feeling).” So when Jamie’s being anxious or ramped up, I might feel desperate or helpless or like a failure.

So now we can start to put this together. “What’s driving me? What are my motivators? What’s more of my fears? What buttons are being pushed?”

And then the final step is starting to realize, “When I feel this way, and when I act this way, this is the kind of thing that I need from my spouse. This is what will help.”

Jamie: “When I feel helpless and desperate, I need this.” And, what do you need, Chris? Like with me, what would you need?

Chris: Reassurance, support, holding my hand…Just saying “I’m not mad at you” or even “We’re okay, I’m just upset with this; I’m not upset at you. I’m just frustrated at this situation.” Jamie is allowed to be frustrated near me, and unfortunately, the ways I have acted in the past sends the message that she can’t even get frustrated because then I get all wound up, and that’s not fair. And so when she sees the minimizing, then that’s a clue for her that I’m feeling helpless, so she can just reassure me that we are okay.

Jamie: Without that information, minimizing doesn’t look like him feeling helpless and desperate for me to connect with him; what it looks like is that he doesn’t care how I feel; he just wants me to be quiet and doesn’t care how I feel, and that’s what I’m going to respond to. But if I know he’s feeling helpless and desperate, I want to lean towards that. I don’t want my husband feeling that way.  So you want to get in the middle of that and interrupt it with a different response. That’s what changes the pattern of your marriage! But you can only do that when you know what’s really happening, because otherwise when I see minimization, I see rejection and that I’m alone; but that’s not what it is. Minimization is fear! It’s that he is scared that this is the beginning of the end and is desperate to Connect, and he needs to know that we’re okay. And once I reassure we are okay, we can continue on.

And the same thing happens when I’m overwhelmed and anxious. If he were to interrupt that first with the thought “She needs me” and then can bring the support and encouragement and safety I need; now you’ve completely changed the pattern and you’ve developed a new pattern based on what the Enneagram gives you and based on what you know.

Also, something to remember as far as the anxiety and the ramping up or irritability; or how he minimizes that; not all Sixes respond the same way I do. This isn’t a statement that all sixes will do this; they’re all different. You need to have that discussion and see what that looks like in your individual marriage. It all comes down to studying yourself and knowing yourself well, and then studying your spouse, just as much as you study yourself, because when you become your best self, you’re setting your spouse up to become their best selves, and that’s the whole goal!

And so that’s how you disrupt the patterns. You identify what it is, and you see what each other needs, and you kind of go through life with a filter. Chris goes through life in our marriage with the filter of, “My wife likes feeling safe and secure. Let me give her as many details as I can on those things. Let me just constantly try to provide that.” And I know he loves peace and calm and connection, so I do the best I can to provide that. Doing this will just change and prevent a whole lot of negative patterns that go on in your marriage.

Kim:  I love all of this so much. Thank you. I want to be mindful of your time, but we have a little bit of time for Q and A though, if that’s all right? My first question is, what if you don’t know your spouse’s number? How can you start to grow in your relationship if you don’t know your spouse’s Enneagram number, or they are not in a place where they want to even explore that?

Jamie: I would say study the numbers and get ideas; get the basic understanding of the numbers and rule out the ones that don’t fit this, and then play around with the other ones; know the motivators and then sneak in questions like that. Even the resource we provide, you don’t really need to have an Enneagram number. You can have the conversation. You know how your arguments play out; you know that one always walks away, one yells, one belittles, or gets passive aggressive. Dig into that and ask, “How do you feel when I start snapping during an argument?” “How does it make you feel when I walk away?” That allows you to start changing a pattern with or without the Enneagram. We don’t need to know our numbers to have these patterns or dances in our marriage. So I would explore, kick out the numbers that you know are not a fit, and play around with them and talk about the primary things of that number, the basic fears and desires. Bring those topics into conversation somehow and see what they say.

Chris: If they get “peopled out” really easy, for example, and they like doing a lot of research…they’re probably not a seven.

Jamie: Right! And if they’re very calm and they minimize, or they avoid problems and conflict, they’re not an eight; versus if they are, they’ll take any challenge and they’ll step up to the plate and they don’t care about conflict, they might be an 8! So pick up on some of the clues, but you have to understand them yourself to know.

Chris: Experimentation is not ever a bad thing. Just warmly, lovingly step into certain things and see what happens, how they react.

Jamie: And do it with a spirit of seeking to understand them, not to find their number per se; that’s the by-product of it, but it’s more about trying to understand your spouse.

Kim: Mary is asking, what would be some of your top advice for a marriage between a two and a three? Mary is the type 2 and her spouse is a 3.

Chris: For the three, make sure that you are not trying to multitask whenever you’re engaging: Don’t have a phone open or be looking at other things; pause the DVR; whatever it is, make sure you’re investing that time when you’re engaging for whatever time that works. You will get a return on the investment! If it takes you 15 minutes to have a conversation, it’s better than the two hours of argument, right?

Jamie: Yeah. Because threes tend to be not as emotional, they don’t want to have these deep conversations, and so it’s not difficult for a three to just blaze right over the emotions of a two. Twos are very engaging and relational and more emotional and caring, so a two could just find themselves pouring completely out, and a three is not even recognizing that they’re doing it! So the biggest growth for a two is that they need to learn how to ask for help, and in a marriage the Two needs to say, “Honey, I need you to put your phone down and talk with me.” And it’s even hard for a Two to name what they need because they don’t even always know! They’d don’t want to have any needs, they just want to meet others’ needs. And so they need to know what they need, and also to make sure they have a voice in their marriage; because a three won’t naturally do that. So that’s what I would say: the three needs to give one-on-one attention and make sure in all their time-blocking and managing their schedules that they have made time for their spouse, and put in there a delegation for time with their spouse.

Chris: Yeah. And I would echo what Jamie was saying for the two as well, absolutely; but also, try to make sure that you’re giving some sort of validation when your spouse is doing what you want them to do. Give them the gold star!

Jamie: Yes! “This is what I like, you’ve done great!”

Chris: Exactly! “You did great listening to me. Thanks for taking that time to talk.” Should we have to thank our spouses for spending time with us? No, but if we reinforce the behaviors, they know what you want. It’s not just giving them a treat and saying “good boy”; now they know what you want and they know what works, and they gravitate towards that.

Jamie: And a three likely needs to be told that because they don’t think like you.

Kim: That’s exactly like you said, the usual error. That’s so good.

Bonnie is asking, “What are typical harmful patterns that happen between a 3-wing-4 and a 9-wing-1 to look out for, and how do we avoid falling into those relationship patterns?” So you talked about patterns between a six and a nine and kind of how you can spiral when you’re triggering each other, so what about a three and a nine?

Jamie: Threes can tend to move faster and want to do much more and do it faster. A 9-wing-1 is going to, by nature, move a little slower and more methodically, and move when they know that this is going to be right and done well. So with that, it can be the conflict of “too fast, too slow, bail.” And we get nowhere. So the meat in that is for the three to still be adventurous and do all the things and have the plans, but to make room and make space for the Nine to get on board, because they need to move a little bit slower. And Nine won’t have a problem with a Three taking the lead; that that is very comforting, and 9 goes to a 3 and strength, and so that’s a great balance! But you need to know that, because if you do it too fast and you kind of force it without allowing space for the 9, you’re going to have conflict. And if you’re going to have wanting to slow down and one wanting to drag and pull forth

Chris: And you know, that’s why I load the dishwasher; that’s why I pack the car when we’re on vacation. I just learned to say, “Hey, you know what, just help set the bags next to the car, let me put it in there.” It’s not that I’m not trying to be a jerk, it’s just that I’ve already played “Tetris” out in my head and I know exactly where everything’s going to go! So I’ve learned to be thoughtful for that. So now it plays on a couple of different levels; if you try to put it in there, I feel that you’ve taken away my voice and my options; you’ve disregarded me and you’re not doing it right! So there’s two check boxes that just got clicked off that is going to go into a trigger.

Jamie: And it’s not easy with a couple paired like that. It’s easier for the three to take the leadership role and for the Nine to just say “just forget it” and be frustrated and pack a lot of resentment along the way. Because the three is a driver in the relationship and the nine knows they have quality input too, but the Three doesn’t care to listen. So you can end up with a lot of resentment that you may not see, and it may all of a sudden dump out in a very passive-aggressive way. Because they’ve withheld a lot and they don’t communicate that they’re upset, they will just seem to be like, “forget it”; and a Three might just keep running forward until it’s enough, and then the nine comes out and dumps all this passive aggressiveness into it where the three it’s like, “I had no idea you were even upset.” So that, that could go a couple of different ways.

Kim: Wow, that was very, very insightful too. Like I agree with everything you said, as far as the Enneagram goes! You guys are the marriage experts, but as far all the Instagram stuff, there’s correction needed! This is perfect, coming from an Enneagram one. This is high praise. So we have just a few more minutes, so where can we find you? And where are some resources, cause I know you have plenty.

Chris: Well, we’ve got our website and are also on Instagram, and we have our podcast, which is Expedition Marriage with Chris and Jamie, where we give tips and supports and tools like this. And we also have a book! Find it on Amazon here.

Jamie: The whole devotional is for newlyweds and all newlywed wannabes and it’s a 52 week devotional, so it’s one a week. You could take your time with it. There’s scripture in it, there’s a devotional in it, and there’s five questions for every devotional that will get you talking about things, having real conversations, and it will help you because we’re all about connection! We’re all about connecting and understanding each other. And that that’s the goal of what we’ve put together with that. If you’re trying to find someone’s Enneagram number that’s a great way to do it, cause we’ve got questions in there that will help that. And all of the things can be found on our website.

Kim: This has been such a rich conversation. You guys have given us so many things to think about, a lot of tangible things. Do you have any final thoughts to share with us before we say goodbye?

Jamie: Just seek to understand each other. God tells us to be quick to listen, and slow to anger; we need to hear one another, and we need to be asking questions and listening, not for our own gain and benefit, but to really understand what lens our spouse is looking through life with. Also understand that we’re not going to get it a hundred percent right, but we all want to be heard and understood, so offer that to one another in your marriages.

Kim: That’s beautifully said, wonderfully said. So for those of you that were impacted by this interview, go into their DMS and let them know what you got out of it! Send them some love and appreciation and tell them we sent you.


All right. That is it for my conversation with Jamie and with Chris, Jamie and Chris. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this conversation here so that more people can hear it and gain wisdom and insight into Enneagram patterns in their marriage or their relationships. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that for you, Beautiful Listener. Make sure to click the links that will lead you to Chris and Jamie Bailey at Expedition Marriage, let them know what you thought of their conversation. Show them some love, connect with them in whatever way you want to. They have a devotional ready for you, they have Instagram where they share all sorts of helpful things and a lot of humor as well for you and your marriage; so just make sure go get to know them and connect with them. I highly recommend it.

Enjoy this post? Have a question? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below or over on Instagram where I hang out the most. If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of The Enneagram for Beginner’s book (affiliate link, thank you for your support!) or you can shop through my favorite books and resources for using the Enneagram in the Amazon Storefront.

Want to purchase Enneagram stickers, hats and more? Click through to the Christian Enneagram Shop and check it out. 

Kim Eddy

Kim is an Enneagram Coach, author, and podcaster. She loves to hang out on Instagram @christianenneagram.coach, and helping people use the Enneagram in their day-to-day lives is one of her main passions.

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