"I'm an Enneagram Four and my husband is a Six. We've recently adopted our first child and, though we're overjoyed to have a new addition in our lives, this is also a sleepless time as we adjust to our new roles. I'm particularly stressed because lately my husband seems less like my helpmate and more like an additional child, whose fears I must constantly calm. I feel as if I live with Chicken Little who's constantly crying "The sky is falling!" Any suggestions about how I can better cope with this portion of my spouse's personality, or ways I can make him feel more secure and less pessimistic?"
First children can be stressful for any number of reasons -- lack of sleep, changing roles, new responsibilities. According to psychologist Frank Pittman in Man Enough, complicated feelings are evoked in men when children enter the family. Children seem to evoke both the Shadow inner child and inner parent.
Further, our society still pushes parenting more squarely on the mother, who may feel as if she now has two children. Actually, this could happen any time the wife nurtures someone else. For example, a Nine wife spent two weeks helping her mother recuperate from broken ribs, expecting she could return to her Eight husband and nestle under his protective arm. WRONG! He was feeling needy because she'd been gone, but of course couldn't admit it, so the re-entry was tough for both of them.
With the stresses of becoming a mother, it's possible you're connecting more with your Two energy. This has its up and down sides – on the down side wanting to be reassured the relationship is working and/or being more highly self-absorbed and thus having more difficulty relating to your spouse in customary ways (paradoxically, with increasing fears of abandonment). At the same time he may be showing some Three patterns: self-doubt, a higher need for approval and support, and feeling competitive (of the new child in this case), with increased fear of rejection.
People with Enneagram style Four often have a unique, protective energy toward children and animals (perhaps some internal re-parenting is taking place?), so you may be focusing so much on your new child you're not offering your husband the love and attention he's accustomed to. That's neither good nor bad, but you might ask yourself if you're living some of your own unmet needs from childhood through this new little person in your life?
A friend offered the following:
"My Six husband has been good for me. As a Four who feels flawed, his undying loyalty is a gift: he's there for me. But if we'd met at an earlier point in time – when he was more into his anger and I was more into my self-absorption – it might not have gone so smoothly.
There can be a problem when Fours are very verbal and like to process a lot of emotions, because when a Six is hurting that's the last thing he wants to do, even if she just asks questions. What the Six needs is space.
It can also be a problem when Fours pull back emotionally because of all the attention a child needs, which a Six could take personally. The Six tends to say, 'It's my fault' or 'I've got to fix it.'
Any new mother is going to be physically tired, and the things men take as affirmation will go down the tubes. So it may help if she explains to her husband what's going on: 'Right now I'm stressed out and I'm pulling back because I'm trying to survive.' He'll probably be O.K. with that because it's not about their relationship, he's not looking for a hidden agenda, not worrying she's going to spring something on him."
You can't make your husband feel more secure and less pessimistic; that's his work. But you can look at yourself and work on your own stresses; making it more likely your love for him will be clear and tangible.