Parenting Woes And Relationship Advice #02
“Dear Cindy, when I married my husband, I knew he was an introvert and that was fine by me. (Based on the Enneagram material I’ve read online, I’m pretty sure he is a Type 5.) I even found his shy behavior endearing and attractive! At least he had a stable job and I know that he isn’t a flirt. These qualities helped me feel secure. But that was 7 years ago. Today, I find myself feeling frustrated with him most of the time. He takes forever to decide on something, and he just wants to stay at home all the time. I feel that our marriage has become stagnant. Divorce seems an easier option than to expect him to change.”
Type 5s (the Observer) usually really cherish their personal time and space. They are usually thinkers who value logic way above emotion, and this means taking time to collect the data needed, rue and mull over them, and then make the decision, as opposed to acting spontaneously or on a whim. This is the same trait that has given him that perceived quality of being stable and secure. However, they require a lot of their own individual time and space to be able to do all this thinking. That is why they tend to resent having to decide on things quickly and like to spend most time alone by themselves in order to just re-charge. (All that thinking saps energy, you know?) going out on social activities wears them out instead of energizing them.
Usually, the positive qualities of our spouse tend to diminish with time as we let the resentment accumulate and do not communicate openly and honestly with each other. Also, perhaps the sense of security you needed in the initial stage of marriage has now been fulfilled more and more by yourself, and your spouse no longer plays that role, which probably tempts you to wonder why else would you need to stay married to him.
I would just like to encourage you to once again recall the reasons why you decided to say “Yes” to him. I assure you, those qualities that endeared him to you are still there. It would help you see them better if you start to list down his positive qualities. Next, communicate to him what your needs are and what he could do to help you meet them, but be sure to meet him halfway too. If you need him to go for gatherings with your friends, help make him comfortable by assuring him that he knows some of them fairly well and make the event predictable (so that he could assess how much energy would be used for the event). And after this event, assure him that he will have time to recharge (meaning, you will both spend some time at home and you won’t bug him for the rest of the weekend!). There are many more strategies that we can’t fit into this column but apply the same principles and you should be on the first step of making your marriage work.
All the best!
“After attending your Enneagram workshop, I finally understood that my wife is a Type 1 perfectionist and it is causing a lot of stress in our marriage. She seems to nit-pick on everything that I do, from how I do the housework to how I eat my food. Isn’t it good enough that I’m already helping out with the housework? What more does she want? How do I tell her to stop telling me what to do? “
Yes, your wife sounds like an Enneagram Type 1 Perfectionist and I can empathize with the frustration you must be feeling. Type 1s tend to have a fixed view on what is right and wrong and have no qualms about imposing it on others, sometimes expecting others to follow their way.
It might help your case if you help her see that most things in the world are not black and white. They come in shades of grey (not necessarily 50 of them) and also, not everything has to be done perfectly. It might help ease the pressure in your marriage if both of you could agree on deciding what aspects in your lives have clear hard rules, and what aspects could afford some slack.
For example, perhaps you can both agree that when it comes to saving up for your future retirement plan, you will both steadfastly allocate 15% of your income to the retirement fund. No grey areas in that aspect. However, when it comes to how the house is cleaned up, perhaps you could both agree that meeting 80% of her standard for housework should suffice and she could be thankful for the attempt at making the 80% happen rather than focusing on the 20% that has failed.
Type 1s need to be regularly reminded to lighten up and to be kinder to themselves and to others. Take her out for a nice date regularly and help her see the bigger picture of what matters most at the end of the day (e.g. you being an involved husband and father, growing old together healthily and happily, maturing together through challenges, etc.), rather than the small inconsequential bits that do not amount to much at the end of your lives together.