Anita, Achiever (3), formerly in a 30-year relationship with Donald, Peacemaker (9)
“The traits which attracted me to Donald were his wonderful sense of humor, his intelligence, his unflappable sense of calm, his ability to “not sweat the small stuff”, his support and his stability. I met Donald very young–we went to the same elementary school and were about one year apart academically. We began dating when he was in high school.
Energetically, we were opposites. The notation under my picture as student body president in our school’s yearbook read, “Rushing madly and incessantly about, she is always doing something for someone sometime.” Donald was the oasis of calm in this caldron of frenzied activity. He was the voice of reason, the unflappable companion who could help me put things in perspective, my anchor in a turbulent sea.
I could count on his support. When I had been in the professional world for four years and discovered that the company was paying me less than my male co-workers for the same position, with the same responsibilities, I wrote a letter stating that I would resign my position rather than accept this inequality. This was in the 1960s when it was less common for a woman to stand her ground. My husband was very supportive of this decision and encouraged me to be assertive with management. He was the wind beneath my wings.
In our relationship, I brought drive and sense of adventure to the dynamic. We moved to Germany for four years and traveled extensively during that time. My happy-to-stay-home husband said if it hadn’t been for me, we would never have left the United States and that if he had accepted the job in Germany without me, he would have done little traveling. But in the end, he admitted he appreciated all the travel we did and all the experiences we had together. Donald was a loving and caring dad, a good provider who ensured his children had a stable home. We both agreed on child rearing, so when the children tried to play the one-parent-against-the-other game, we were a united team.
However, communication around sensitive topics was not a strong point in our relationship. When Donald had problems that annoyed him or made him angry, he would simply clam up. He felt little was worth arguing about and would say “if I’m still angry in three days, we can talk about it.” Of course, we never did. This stonewalling led to a wall of undiscussed hurts, wounds and resentments.
During the relationship, our different energy levels also became an issue. After our three children were born, we decided to build our own house on several acres of land. This was a huge undertaking and introduced an unprecedented amount of stress, both emotional and financial, into our relationship. When we moved into the house, we still had many tasks to complete. With my Type A drive, I wanted to aggressively attack the list of tasks. My lower energy husband was intimidated by the breadth of the work and would often take time out to relax in his familiar reclining chair, beer in hand, watching sports. He once said “I used to feel guilty when I wanted to watch a game, and you were working, but I don’t anymore. I don’t have your energy and can’t keep up with you.”
The marriage never recovered from this period but as we weren’t good at openly discussing our issues, many years passed quietly as the relationship deteriorated. We both avoided the situation and crafted independent lives for ourselves. To the outside world, the marriage looked intact, but this was not in fact the case. During this period, my husband’s occasional drink developed into full blown alcoholism. Eventually, a medical issue, exacerbated by Donald’s alcoholism, brought the entire reality into light and shortly there after we divorced.“
The Theory: Achiever (3) with Peacemaker (9)
When in Balance
The Achiever (3) and the Peacemaker (9) can make a very supportive and balancing match bringing each other important personality traits the other generally lacks.
Peacemaker (9)s bring support, acceptance, encouragement and an unflappable sense of calm. Because they are less image-conscious and less concerned about the opinion of others, they offer the Achiever (3) a firm base from which to jump. The Achiever (3) correctly senses the Peacemaker (9) will support them through thick and thin, and this gives the Achiever (3) greater self-confidence to pursue their goals. Peacemaker (9)a enjoy the simple things in life and can help remind their Achiever (3) to slow down and smell the roses. Achiever (3)s like to be admired, and the Peacemaker (9) finds it easy to appreciate their Achiever (3).
In return, Achiever (3)s help the Peacemaker (9) to wake up to all that life has to offer. Achiever (3)s bring a high energy, drive, ambition and a fast-paced, “can do” attitude that helps motivate and focus the Peacemaker (9). With their Achiever (3) at their side, Peacemaker (9)s may stretch themselves to try new things, go places they haven’t been and to break out of their comfortable routine. They sparkle in the face of their new experiences and enjoy a broader worldview.
Energetically, this couple has the potential to be balancing. The Peacemaker (9) gives the Achiever (3) permission to relax, and the Achiever (3) helps the Peacemaker (9) to get going. The easy acceptance of the Peacemaker (9) and the enthusiastic drive of the Achiever (3) can be healing for both partners. When self-aware and in balance, this can be a successful and enduring match.
The Downward Spiral
This couple can run into trouble by being too conflict avoidant. Peacemaker (9)s feel threatened by conflict, and Achiever (3)s feel threatened by a negative image, so both people tend to sweep issues under the rug. With tightening defenses, the Achiever (3) gets more attached to the image of a perfect relationship and the Peacemaker (9) gets more withdrawn to maintain harmony.
Peacemaker (9)s feel extreme anxiety in the face of conflict and will often stonewall or shut down to avoid the related stress they feel from a loss of harmony. They prefer to wait, hoping that time passing will somehow resolve the issue.
Achiever (3)s are very interested in maintaining a positive image. Love is fused with the appearance of wellness, and it is hard for them to separate the two. To feel stable, they want the image of the “perfect marriage” and to honestly deal with an issue might shatter that image.
As both people polarize into their corner of denial, the relationship weakens though to the outside world, everything may appear fine. Dinner parties continue, holidays seem bright and happy to outsiders, school functions have both parents in attendance, but behind closed doors, the relationship is cold and distant. Both partners are unhappy but unwilling to face reality. Instead, they craft separate lives for themselves and continue down their path of avoidance.
The downward spiral gains momentum. The Achiever (3) has many unmet needs of being admired and appreciated. They may fall into a depression or go outside of the relationship to get their needs met. The Peacemaker (9) may start to resent the falseness of the Achiever (3) and the mask that is presented to the outside world. They experience the Achiever (3) as attention seeking, self-centered and phony. The lives may continue to drift apart as the couple becomes like distant housemates.
Often, some life crisis such as an affair or a major health challenge brings the deterioration of the relationship into awareness. If the core issues remain unaddressed and unresolved, the relationship may collapse.
Issue avoidance is the root of the downward spiral for this couple. Avoidance is triggered by feelings of shame and anxiety so dealing with these two issues on a somatic level can help break the momentum of the downward crash.
In addition, the Achiever (3) needs to recognize how anxiety-provoking conflict is for their Peacemaker (9). Stonewalling is often a way to avoid anxiety, so unthreatening ways to address issues are most effective. And Peacemaker (9)s need to acknowledge how image conscious their Achiever (3) is. Achiever (3)s are better able to address sensitive issues when they are feeling very safe, secure and when they feel their image is not in jeopardy.
The Kundalini Yoga connection:
Feelings of shame result in the Achiever (3) sacrificing reality for an image. Achiever (3) are able to cut off from their emotions, leaving them often with a polished external world but a sad and unfulfilling inner world. Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations that cultivate heart opening, self-acceptance and self-love are beneficial for Achiever (3)s.
Peacemaker (9)s need to strengthen their nervous system and their navel center/third chakra to activate the their power center. The anxiety of conflict feels less overwhelming with a strong nervous system. A strong navel center gets the Peacemaker (9) in touch with their needs allowing them to advocate for themselves better. Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations to build the nervous system and the navel center are highly beneficial for Peacemaker (9)s.
If you know your Enneagram type and the type of your partner (or ex-partner), please consider participating in my relationship survey! Message me at email@example.com.
The book, The Nine Keys, will be out in 2018! This book contains 81 testimonials similar to the one above along with four Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations. To get on the pre-order listing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading!