A Relationship Saved
by Veronica Croft
One part of my work that I find very satisfying is helping couples to unravel and resolve their differences, and what makes it possible for me to help couples in this way – even though I am not a trained counsellor - is my knowledge of each of the nine personality types.
In an occasional series of brief articles I would like to share with you some of the relationship problems the Enneagram has helped me unravel.
This time we look at a Six - Two relationship.
Paul and Louise were experiencing repeating patterns of conflict at the time of their consultation with me. Louise is a Two - a type that is verbally expressive and demonstrative with their love; she regularly tells Paul that she loves him. Paul is a Six, a less demonstrative type that tends to show their love in less obvious ways – often by doing practical things for their partner that makes life steady and secure. Paul works long hours and often gets home late with the result that Louise was feeling neglected. He was often too tired to eat the meal that Louise had spent a lot of time lovingly preparing and all of this was making her feel unappreciated and unloved. She was becoming critical and emotional which was causing Paul to suspect that she no longer loved him. Feeling that he might be rejected he reacted by withdrawing and being unresponsive ... which was making Louise feel even less loved.
Oh what a tangled web we weave!! This sort of everyday scenario is typical of the confusion and misunderstanding that happens in even the best relationships.
Knowing that he was a Six and she was a Two made it pretty easy to unravel these problems. The crux of the matter was that Paul, in working hard to make life secure, was actually offering to Louise what he most needed (security) instead of what she needed. This was his practical way of showing her how much he loved her. Louise actually wanted what she was offering Paul – demonstrative and expressive outpourings of love – and, as is common with Twos, had completely failed to realise that other types have their own ways of demonstrating love, that they are not all Twos!
I explained to them that this is one of the most common problematic patterns I see within relationships. Each of the nine types has different deep (usually unconscious) core needs and we expect the other party to fulfill those needs. Seems reasonable; after all they love us don't they? Surely they will want to fulfill our needs? Well, yes. But problems occur within most relationships because, not only are we not really aware of our own deep needs (until we find the Enneagram, of-course) so we can't tell the other party what they are, but, even worse, most of us unconsciously give to our loved ones exactly what we would want from them instead of what they really need.
As I further explained how the unconscious core needs of the Six and the Two are actually different, and about how those needs affect the way each feels and behaves in relationships, they both realised their love for each other was just as strong as ever. Paul realised that he needed to tell Louise more often that he loved her and she began to appreciate all the things Paul did that made her life steady and secure and to accept that there are many ways in which love can be demonstrated.
With the Enneagram our apparently complex relationships are rendered simple. They really do make sense!