MWW: When a couple consists of two different sub-types, what is your advice to them? How would you advise them to reach a compromise?
Cindy: Okay, for example, I’m a one-to-one while my husband is a self-preservation sub-type. We’re the exact opposite, meaning his one-to-one is the lowest, while my self-preservation is the lowest. So what we did was pay more attention to the one that is lowest. When it’s his birthday, I would bring him to a really expensive restaurant. I’ll never spend that much on myself, as to me it’s just a meal. But he appreciates really good food, so I’ll do that for him. I’ll also buy practical gifts for him, even though I think a practical gift is not really a gift; it’s more like trying to fix a problem.
Actually, to be a balanced individual, you need to have all three sub-types. You can’t just survive on one. It’s just that we tend to pay more attention to one sub-type. So, we’ve just got to work on that balance, and pay more attention to what’s lowest.
MWW: What is the most common issue that couples come in to fix?
Cindy: It always starts with a clash in personalities. We’ll get them to see these are two sides to the same coin. You fall in love with each other’s good sides, but now when the journey gets tough, you both see the ugly sides and say it’s a clash. In a sense, after understanding the enneagram, I do see that there’s no such thing. It’s all about knowing where each other is coming from and drawing boundaries.
I’ll give you one interesting example: there’s a type 7 and 6 couple. Type 7 tends to think of the best-case scenario. This type is the life-of-the- party, wants to try everything new, and doesn’t really like having any commitments. Type 6 is the stable, secure, slow and steady, and takes care of the family. They will be the one watching your back.
They marry because 7 is very optimistic, while 6 is relatively pessimistic — so they seem to complement each other. Now that they have a kid, 7 just wants to go out partying and not come home. Of course, 6 will freak out, and 7 will think 6 is being restrictive. Here, boundaries need to be drawn. For example, how many days a week it’s okay to go out, and how many are dedicated to daddy duties?
When people act out on their insecurities, misunderstandings tend to happen. So, I will say that it’s all about working out insecurities. And, after that, drawing boundaries.
MWW: Do you think that being married also equals to having good discipline?
Cindy: It does demand higher self-mastery.
MWW: What do you mean by self-mastery?
Cindy: It is being aware of your blind spots, feelings and surroundings. It’s also the ability to be versatile and get out of your comfort zone. So, that is what we call self-mastery. If you catch yourself doing something unproductive, insecure or self-sabotaging, you’re able to catch yourself doing it and decide how you want to react. It is a lot of work.
MWW: What would you encourage couples to do during an argument?
Cindy: It depends on the argument and enneagram type. That said, I think it’s very important to call for a stop, take a break, and then reconnect at an agreed time. They have to work out this conflict management system, where both parties will agree to call for a timeout before hurting each other even more. They can then recollect their thoughts and reconnect. The last thing you want is to sweep it under the carpet, which is the Asian thing to do. I think that’s not a very good practice. It’s always good to talk it out.