Dear Five Faces: My husband and I are having some difficulties and I hope you can help me. Bart is a sensitive, creative man who is very artistic. He paints (including organizing street murals for underprivileged kids), makes pottery, and hand-builds furniture. He also loves deep discussions, so I’m pretty sure he’s a Water. I do freelance marketing for small businesses and not-for-profit groups, and am happiest helping people who need help. I’m pretty sure I’m a Wood. The problem between Bart and me centers on his inability to focus enough to finish projects and promote them. He’s had so many offers to paint murals for people or make furniture, but he never does because he never finishes his other projects. And as you can imagine, my trying to structure him doesn’t go over well. We’ve lost some of the playfulness we had together and I’m worried. Can you help? Signed, Floating Away
Dear Floating Away: On the surface, since Water and Wood relate via the Flow Cycle (Water feeds Wood), it would seem that you should have a happy, nurturing relationship. And you probably do; there are probably many times you feel loved and supported by your Water husband, and he feels the same about you. However, you are describing a perfect example of a bigger issue that quite often creates tension in Water/Wood relationships, and that’s the issue of structure.
As a Wood, you usually appreciate structure, unless it’s structure you don’t agree with or support. As a Water, your husband’s relationship with structure will range from “What is it?” to “Who needs it?” Bart’s inability to focus enough to finish projects is the flip side of the energy that makes him so creative and open to inspiration. He’s not unfocused, he’s just focusing with a wide angle lens! Waters can go where the more structured elements can’t even imagine. That’s because Waters can imagine almost anything. They dislike structure because structure often feels stifling to them; they like to go with the flow or wherever their muses beckon.
Think of water in nature: it will randomly spread out and flow everywhere unless it’s channeled, and therein is the clue that will help you help Bart. Water needs structure to survive. Water spread too thin dries up quickly. For a Water person, this can translate to being spread so thin on a time or energy basis that their creativity dries up. Bart will welcome structure as necessary to his survival if it is the right kind of structure. But what is that?
One of the most important aspects of the Five Element model is that it utilizes the wisdom and truths of nature. On the Control Cycle, we see that Earth controls Water. And what is it that nature uses to hold water in place and give it structure? It’s always earth. Every lake, river, stream, ocean, pond, or puddle out in nature is embraced and shaped by the earth. This is the structure that water needs and responds to the best.
Your description of yourself, especially when you mention working with not-for-profits and helping people, makes me suspect that you have a strong secondary in Earth. That, coupled with the planning and strategic skills of your Wood, makes you the perfect person to help Bart. Oh, and your love for him will help, too! Remember: Earth brings gentle structure (vs. the more formalized structure of Wood and Metal) and a skill at helping others with transitions.
So here’s what you can try. First, on your own, look at his projects and select one that you think will be the easiest to accomplish, one for which you see an easy path to completion. Then, pick a time when you haven’t recently argued with Bart over his lack of focus and, in your loving Earth way, offer to help while he finishes up that project. All he may need is your presence chatting with him while he finishes. Or you can bring him lunch while he works, or even read in the same room he is working. You will know better than I what will work best for Bart, but you want to nurture and support him in the transition from idea/creation to finished state.
Remember, your Earth is perfect for helping Bart with the gentle structure and transitions that his Water needs to narrow his focus and finish his work. Good luck!