Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two Peas in a Pod (Well... one is a Snow Pea): Enneagram Four & Five in Relationship

My wife is an Enneagram Five and I'm a Four. Could you give some relationship growth tips or write a scenario? We know several 4-5 couples; they seem to be complementary. My wife is an ISTP on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and I'm ENFJ.
I agree that Four/Five is often a complementary pairing. I've seen this with friends and with business clients. Both like to "go inside," though as pointed out by Helen Palmer (The Enneagram in Love and Work) and Michael Goldberg (The 9 Ways of Working), the Four's retreat is emotional while the Five's is intellectual. This pairing's comfort with each other is also affected by MBTI preferences. A key MBTI factor for the Four/Five pairing is whether each is extroverted or introverted. 

I say this because Fours and Fives are both "withdrawing" styles, and in this way are more similar than complementary. Friends who want to spend time with them as a couple may not think it's such a great combination, because Four/Fives tend to withdraw together and away from others, especially under stress, and this becomes exaggerated when they're both introverts. 

So when the Four is extroverted, this will mitigate somewhat against the couple's dual tendency to withdraw (it's even possible the Five would be extroverted, though that's rare). When this couple does withdraw, they typically don't see it as a problem. My friends (he's a Four–INFJ, she's a Five–INTP) love nothing better than to sit at home on Saturday night with a good bottle of wine and a roaring fireplace; and it's hard to cajole them into doing anything else. The Four wants to nurse any outstanding wounds left over from the week, and the Five needs a break from interaction with others during the week.  

In terms of development, Enneagram Fours benefit from working toward their ideals and not being "bummed out" by their or others' feelings. Style Fives, being dispassionate observers, can be a good model for this and a good source of advice for Fours. Fives need to place more value on feelings and share their own feelings more generously, which they can learn from their Four partners. Probably the biggest area of mutual growth for this pair has to do with negotiating boundaries. No matter how much they may be a fortress for each other against the stresses of the world, style Four will typically want more attention and interaction than style Five easily gives. It's maturing for Fours to need less interaction and for Fives to give more, so as they accommodate each other they simultaneously develop themselves.

As an aside, if blame is going to occur it will often come from style Four suggesting style Five is somehow deficient. The relationship will be healthier if Fours accept it's easier to pull back than it is to move out. I once suggested the metaphor of a giant sea snail to a style Five client, who could easily see herself ducking back into her shell when emotions were heightened.

FIRO-B is a helpful measure of needs for inclusion and affection (this instrument also measures control needs). The inclusion measure determines the extent of contact an individual seeks and wishes from others; the affection measure determines the amount of closeness a person seeks and wishes from others. If you've been together for a while, you've probably already figured this out in practical terms. But I'd encourage you to check out your assumptions.

A Four in therapy said, "Our efforts last week were a failure. He agreed to show me more appreciation, but it didn't happen!" Her Five partner responded, "But I did! I praised you to our daughter and you were standing right there!" So, when asking for something from the other, make sure you define your needs clearly in behavioral terms ("video-speak," what would it look like if someone saw you?). Then, appreciate each other for incremental steps in the desired direction.

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