This episode continues our discussion on personality, specifically as it relates to the Enneagram. In this second part, I interview Kyle to get an in-depth look at the Enneagram Three.

014: The Timbre of Marriage—Personality, Part 02

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Truly Equal is a marriage podcast created by Kyle and Christi Playford. Our goal is to talk about marriage from a fresh perspective. We tell stories about our lives, talk about how marriage is like a love song, and give practical solutions to the problems we've encountered.

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All About the Enneagram Three

To continue the conversation of personality types within the Enneagram, we decided to interview each other and dive more in-depth into each of our own personalities. Today I interviewed Kyle about his personality type, and next week he'll interview me. The following questions were provided to us by some friends in our marriage group, and they all revolve around Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile's book The Road Back to You. Also, as a sidenote, the following questions will be answered by Kyle in the first person.


Type: Three (The Performer)

Deadly Sin: Deceit

Possible Wings: Two (The Helper) and Four (The Romantic)

Stress Type: Nine (The Peacemaker)

Security Type: Six (The Loyalist)


1. Out of the Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy versions of your number what do you identify with most often? Are there aspects of the others that you identify with at different times?

At home I am a healthy Three, but at work I identify as an Average Three. I tend to shape-shift more at work than at home. Sometimes I even become something I disagree with.

2. What is your deadly sin? How accurate do you think it is in describing you?

My deadly sin is deceit, and I believe it is quite accurate in describing me. When I was younger I knew what people liked, so I tried to be that for everyone. I can easily shape shift into what I think people want me to be. This can become a problem if there is something I truly think (but I know it won’t be well-received), because I will either not say it or simply lie about my opinion. However, now that I know this about myself, I am getting better at recognizing it.

Early on in our relationship, I lied to Christi about something I did because I was afraid of the consequences it would bring. It brought a lot of hurt in our relationship, but once we worked through the hurt it formed our relationship into a safe place where I could always tell the truth. Now I am much less afraid to be completely honest with her.

I was a very unhealthy Three in high school and college, but China changed that for me. Now I see the value of rest, contemplation, and uncompromising beauty, goodness, and truth.

3. What are some of the challenges of your type that you face?

One of the challenges I face is masking emotions and feelings. It is very hard for me to stop my endless pursuit of task completion and study to check out how I am feeling right now. I will also cut corners and embellish facts to get a job done or a task complete. This plays into my deadly sin of deceit as well.

Another challenge that I face is saying my own needs. This is very hard for me since I have a strong Two wing—especially at work. I can barely stop my pursuit of goals to explore what my needs actually are, much less verbalize them to someone who will probably not know how to meet the needs I have.

4. Does the childhood explanation jive with you?

Not all of the childhood explanations jived with me. I didn’t pick up the message, "You are what you do," but I did strive to be the best I could be in everything I did. The last two paragraphs of the childhood explanation, however, definitely jived with me. Ever since I was a kid, I always knew what I wanted to wear in any given situation. It takes me roughly 20 seconds to figure out what I will wear during the day and in the evening. Also, since I can multi task, I am usually cleaning my room while I think about what to wear. This was always the case for me.

5. How do you see aspects of your type play out in relationships?

Since I am able to multi-task, it can be hard to simply sit and talk with Christi so she feels listened to. I know I can listen and do other things while we are talking, but since China I have learned that listening—TRUE listening—happens when you stop what you are doing and focus completely on the other person. Christi and I will also sit down and plan out our goals together. However, I think both of us see the value in doing this—not just me. As far as friends go, I don’t have a lot of super close or demanding friendships (since those are messy and difficult and I am so goal-oriented). I clearly didn’t follow my type in the fact that I married Christi, since she is complicated and emotional. I think I knew in China that I needed to marry someone that was very different from me so that I could be taught something new.

6. What do you think your wing is and how do you see this play out in various areas or situations in your life?

I think I am a Three with a Two wing. I see this play out at my job where I try to help everyone as much as I can. I also try to help Christi as much as I can at home. Sometimes this helpfulness goes awry when I try to carry too many things in my hands at a time.

7. Where do you go in stress and security? Do you think that's accurate and how do you see that play out in your life?

I go to a Nine in stress. I think this is much more accurate than my security number since I was stressed for most of my childhood and adolescence due to my parent’s marriage. I tend to retreat and look for ways to be lazy and distract myself from what I need to do. I also shape shift easily and can forget who I am.

In security, I go to a Six. I tend to be more confident and speak with conviction. I know what I believe, and I can form deep relationships because I know who I am.

8. Have you had any breakthroughs in any of your "Paths to Transformation?"

One of the "Paths to Transformation" that Ian and Suzanne mention for the Threes in their book is to read a couple books by Richard Rohr. I started reading Immortal Diamond by Rohr and it really challenged my understanding of myself. Here are a few quotes:

"Your True Self is the part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, largely unconsciously."
"The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference."
"I have everything in general so I need nothing in particular."
"Death is not just physical dying, but going to full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance beyond where I am in control."

Regarding that last quote, Rohr also mentioned that grace is found at the depths and the death of everything. He said that we must not be afraid of failing—of "going down." Rather, when you go into the full depths and death, you come out the other side. The word for that is resurrection. You lose your false self (or ego), find your true self (or soul).

Another "Path to Transformation" was to challenge or craft my definition of success. So I am now defining success as living into my core values. The following are my core values and sub-values:

  • Love
    • patience
    • kindness 
    • compassion
    • joy
    • wonder
  • Self-care
    • rest
    • play
    • reflection/meditation
    • health/fitness
    • minimalism
  • Obedience
    • courage
    • wisdom
    • submission
    • discipline
    • choice

9. Do you think that your type looks different for different genders? If yes, how so? Have you struggled with being your type in your gender?

I don’t think I have struggled in my gender since male Threes are highly valued in the area they care most about. I have had it quite easy.


Additional Resources

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery — A book by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Road Back to You: Discover Your Enneagram — A quiz to help you figure out your Enneagram number

Typology — A podcast by Ian Morgan Cron on the Enneagram

The Enneagram (Episode 37) — An episode on The Liturgists Podcast about the Enneagram

The Enneagram Institute — A website dedicated to the Enneagram

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