Relationship Intimacy and the Enneagram: Resource or Stress Points on the Journey to Marriage Satisfaction

Have you wondered how to grow with the enneagram so you can feel more satisfaction in your relationship? In this article learn how to move in to your “resource point” so that your own integration from doing so can assist in relationship satisfaction.

This resource point is where we can access some important quality that helps us take action in the world. Some Enneagram teachers call this the “stress point” because either 1) we go there when under stress, or 2) we learn to have compassion for ourselves when we go there, to access the intelligence and competencies of that point, yet we find it stressful to be there. Both statements are true, but since some see “stress point” as negative, I like using the term “resource point.” When one stays present, with compassion for oneself, your resource point can teach you a lot! But it can be uncomfortable doing so.  One of my teachers, David Schnarch, teaches that tolerating uncomfortable feelings helps one grow.   The enneagram can give a map so that you are more aware and ready when your resource point feelings arise.





















The Different Types

2 – The Helper – These people are caring and helpful to others, but can also become codependent and lose sight of their own needs.

 3 – The Motivator – These people strive for achievement and recognition, but can also become inauthentic and overly     image-conscious.

4 – The Individualist – These people strive to be unique and are deeply emotionally sensitive, but can become depressed and isolated.

5 – The Investigator – These people strive for intellectual mastery and knowledge, but can become very eccentric and lose themselves in irrelevant thinking.

6 – The Loyalist – These people strive for security, but can become paranoid and suspicious.

7 – The Enthusiast – These people strive for excitement and stimulation, but can become impulsive and reckless.

8 – The Challenger – These people strive to assert themselves and their authority, but can become hostile and pugnacious.

9 – The Peacemaker – These people strive for calmness and peace, but can become aloof and disengaged.

1 – The Reformer – These people strive for integrity, but can become overly perfectionistic.


Using the Enneagram, we move to our resource points in these ways: 3’s goes to 9, 9’s to 6, and 6’s to 3 (3-9-6-3). Or on the other set of lines:  1’s go to 4, 4’s to 2, 2’s to 8, 8’s to 5, 5’s to 7, 7’s to 1.


Point 1

The resource point for Ones is Point Four. When ones get to the (feeling overwhelmed) level where feelings aren’t so controlled, Ones find more room for emotional expression at Point Four. This is often when Ones feel overwhelmed with too many feelings at once. While ones can clamp down on their feelings usually, feelings now spill out into the environment. One’s sliding to four can feel stressed; their feelings may come out in up and down ways, sometimes in hurtful ways. Yet ones in this place can often sound more direct, and ask for what they need. I encourage oneish clients to practice feeling their feelings at four so emotional upsets later don’t throw them for such a loop. Emotionality and direct expression of feelings are resources for ones to build intimacy on, as ones learn through therapy how to remain grounded in their body while feeling their feelings at point 4.


Point 2

Point Eight is the resource point for the Twos.

Healthy Twos learn how to manage their assertive, angry energy at point 8. In Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP), 2ish clients are taught how to remain grounded in their body instead of angrily letting it rip at point 8! Some Twos naturally are expansive, and add assertiveness from point 8. Other Two’s have to get pushed to get to point 8. “I was nice to you all those times, and now your behaviors are pissing me off!” Twos who’ve learned to access point 8 energy do better in conflict, something many Twos are not good at. 8 energy teaches twos how to have boundaries, to say “no” when they need to, something 8’s tend to be good at.


Point 3

The resource point for Threes is Point Nine, where 3’s learn to RELAX, be more peaceful, see different points of view, and include others. When 3’s take a break from their usual driven, competitive style, moving to Point Nine develops the ability to bring people together on task in a different, perhaps less efficient, way. There is also the possibility at Point Nine of slowing down a bit and allowing something like music, rest, and reflection to predominate. At times overworked three’s will end up “blanking out” or “passed out” in exhaustion. If Threes can allow the move to Nine without too much stress inside (breathe, relax, take a break), they will benefit from the grounding and harmonizing qualities that are available from this nineish peaceful state.   Three’s who’ve learned to hang out in a peaceful way become more lovable!


Point 4

The resource point for four’s is point two, a way to get out of the stuck place of being self-absorbed and/or isolated, as some four’s can become.   In counseling, I work with four’s to stay connected with their holy origin INSIDE THEIR BODIES, through awareness and breath work. This allows four’s to maintain their originality, their individuality, while also making personal connections with people, at point two.   Getting out of their interior world by loving others, while maintaining a healthy connection inside, can help four’s remember IT’S A CHOICE to relate well with others, not a forced requirement, so four’s can enjoy relationship while remembering their autonomous connections to themselves inside.



Point 5

The resource point for 5’s is point 7.   Instead of a shyness or pulled-back attitude, moving to 7 gives the five a more outgoing and enthusiastic style. At times a 5 can be the life of a party, talking quite a bit. The opposite can happen too, as when Fives feel pressured to be overly relational and talk. Then they can experience being at 7 as stressful, maybe looking for the chance to pull back and move back in to their own private space.



Point 6

The resource point for 6’s is point 3. Moving to 3 offers 6’s the possibility of ACTION, efficiently getting RESULTS in a quicker way.   6’s can feel relief to just “get it done”, and drop the excessive ruminating and doubting common in the wise, yet skeptical approach.

In a different way smart, loyal 6’s can get hired to do a job, then find themselves pulled in to a 3ish position of trying to meet external business expectations, often stressed out working overtime in a loyal way. Yet, what 6’s want is to get back to their home base at 6, or take a vacation/work less at point 9! Quite a few 6’s in therapy have woken up to this habit of working too hard at point 3 for their true expression of themselves.


Point 7

The resource point for 7’s is point 1. Instead of a constant “up and out” enthusiasm, which their friends love, 7’s go to one and use some of the missing structure and responsibility of 1’s.   7’s get more organized, more orderly, and understand that endless options don’t have to stop practical action.

In a different view, some 7’s do not like to go to point one, and resist things like paying bills, doing laundry, all the practical, orderly aspects of living that can seem boring to a 7. This can make them feel resentful and judgmental, issues to work on in therapy to more fully integrate this resource point in to their lives.



Point 8

The resource point for 8’s is moving to point 5, where more privacy and quiet reflection are experienced.   Instead of powerfully charging in to experience, being at 5 allows for more inner exploration and strategizing.   However, when 8’s stay too long at 5, this can be very upsetting and overwhelming, causing a shut down or depressive experience.   Therapy can teach 8’s ways such as meditation, breathwork, and mindfulness so that an inner experience at 5 can be rejuvenating, instead of overwhelming.


Point 9

The resource point for 9’s is point 6. Instead of remaining in their comfortable outlooks, with many perspectives, 9’s can learn at 6 to sharpen their focus on to trouble spots in their lives. While staying present with trouble spots through therapeutic techniques, 9’s can look at alternatives and chart a course of action.   For some 9’s, sliding to 6 can feel scary or anxious, as when 9’s face problems or conflicts they can’t avoid, 9’s can feel scared or anxious at 6.   Through therapy, which offers grounding techniques for example, 9’s can learn to tolerate and digest their fears at 6, and stay present in a focused way as they deal with trouble spots, navigating their way out of them!



The resource point for each type is indicated by the sequence of numbers 1-4-2-8-5-7-1, and 9-6-3-9. Learning to tolerate the feelings or experiences at the resource points of all 9 personality types can assist us in growing a deeper appreciation for our own, and others, journeys using this deep enneagram tool, whether for personal or intimate relationship growth.


Jim Bowen MA LPC has been assisting individuals and couples since 1992, with offices in Boulder and Denver. Contact Jim with email or call him at 303-534-8717. Why not call for a free consultation?