They say opposites attract, and boy, they aren’t kidding. Before ever hearing of the Enneagram, I fell hard for this guy (a 5) who was reserved, very thorough in making his decisions, and enjoyed a good debate. I (a 7) was a bit more footloose and fancy-free, loving new adventures, and felt that a good debate was just people not getting along, which I hated. Despite our differences, we started flirting over a card game which then turned into a date. A few years of dates later, we tied the knot in August of 2013.

I’ll be completely honest, although we got along well while dating, I had concerns that our personalities would clash in the long haul.  How would we handle conflict and tough times that would no doubt come during our marriage? Well, we found out the answer to that question pretty quickly.

Just short of our 3 year wedding anniversary, my smart, athletic, and handsome Enneagram 5 husband was in a serious accident on his way to work. We found our lives changed forever when the doctors delivered the news that he was paralyzed from the chest down and would never walk again. All of a sudden, those fears I had of us handling difficult situations differently were brought to the surface. 

As he laid in the ICU fighting for his life, I found my inner 7 kicking into high gear. I had this unexplained optimism about our new life circumstance, a need to make sure that each person who came to visit us at the hospital felt comfortable, and I started house shopping (no joke) for an accessible home. 

When my favorite 5 woke up from his induced coma two weeks later, his quiet determination shone through. He didn’t get discouraged or complain but instead asked good questions about paraplegia and brought an intense focus to his therapy sessions. To my surprise, our 5 & 7 personalities meshed well together. I was his cheerleader, there by his side to encourage each new milestone whether relearning how to put on socks or transferring into a car. He didn’t complain once (I mean it) and was determined to get to a state of independence. 

After 4 months, we broke free from all hospitals and moved back to our city. The realization of our new life started to sink in and that’s when we felt the tension of being opposites. I thought he wasn’t properly appreciating everything I was doing for him and he was annoyed that I was hindering his independence. I wanted to keep people up to date with what was going on and he wanted privacy. I felt that bragging about his therapy accomplishments was kind, he thought it was insulting.

But like all things, we figured it out. We both worked through the transition like 7’s and 5’s do. I verbally processed the heck out of the situation (thank you to our friends & family for their listening ears). He analyzed the situation and came up with a game plan. We are now 3 years into this transition and I must say, things are feeling wonderfully normal. I love being married to a 5 and I like to think he would say the same about his 7.

We all have an Enneagram number in our life that is opposite of us. Instead of dwelling on the differences, let’s embrace them. Look for the ways they can push you to be the healthiest version of yourself. And since I’m a 7 and want you all to be my friend, please feel free to shoot me a message at @lavenderslongshot on Instagram or Facebook

LeAnne Lavender is a fundraising guru and pioneered our online fundraising program: The Giving Village.