Dear Five Faces: My husband is a Fire/Wood and I’m a Water/Earth. We’ve been married 18 years and have worked in academia for much of that time. Several years ago, Simon went back to school to study osteopathic medicine and I kept working to support both of us. But two years ago I was forced to quit because Simon decided we needed to move to another country so that he could finish his studies there. He has managed to open a successful practice, and I don’t want to go back to the politics of academia, so it feels like the perfect time for me to change careers and do something more artistic. The problem is that I expected him to be as encouraging of my choice as I was of his, but he’s not. Whenever I bring up the subject, he’s completely unsupportive and literally shuts down. He even says unkind things like it’s unlikely I’ll be successful, there are more qualified people around, and even that I should consider becoming his receptionist (how artistic is that?). Why is he so resistant to me changing careers? And what can I do? Signed: Ready for a Change
Dear Ready for a Change: I can understand why this makes no sense to you. It does seem only fair that he support your career change as you supported his. And in truth, it is only fair. But if we look closer at your elements and how they interact, we can see why he isn’t jumping for joy over the idea, but is actually trying to squash it. And we can see ways to help the process along.
First, as a Fire/Wood, Simon is wired to shine and accomplish. I have no idea how deeply his ego is tied up in being the star of the family, but that wouldn’t be unheard of for a Fire/Wood. As a Water/Earth, you probably could care less about material accomplishment, but the support of deep connections will matter to your Earth, even though your Water will be happy with time alone. You are wired well to be an artist, drawing inspiration from your primary Water, and your Earth might suggest clay as a likely medium for your expression.
During the past 18 years, Simon is used to your Water being available to keep his Fire in check (Water controls Fire) and your Earth being available to embrace his Fire (Earth is the natural receptacle of Fire since Fire flows into Earth). During this time, his Fire feeding your Earth probably felt good to you, but his Wood might have felt controlling to your Earth.
For the two years you haven’t worked, Simon has probably enjoyed your Earth being available to support him, so you going back to work might feel threatening to him. If he’s invested in being the star, he probably isn’t going to like losing his primary audience, or even competing for an audience if you are successful. It’s also possible that Simon might have experienced times when you were artistic and knows that can mean you withdraw more as the muses speak to you. And finally, Woods don’t like things out of control. You moving into a totally new career might feel threatening to Simon, especially a career that relies on your Water. Remember, too much Water can rot Wood or put out Fire.
As you can see, there are lots of reasons, most of which are probably subconscious, that Simon might “shut down” over the idea of you embracing a more artistic career away from him. So what do you do? First, remember that attention and success are important to Simon, so assure him that whatever you pursue, it will not interfere with either of those. Second, since balanced Wood always supports fairness, the fact that Simon is shut down over this issue suggests he has too much Wood involved. Metal controls Wood. If you take a Metal stance on this topic, which means you are calm, cool, rational, reasonable, logical, and concise, that should help his Wood become more flexible, at least enough to see the inherent fairness in what you’re suggesting.
I’m sure you’d love for Simon to be as loving and supportive around your career change as you were around his, but it doesn’t sound like he’s wired for that. He has too much Wood and Fire, and not enough Earth, to give you what your own Earth probably needs. But he does love you, and will certainly want what’s best for you, so if you’re willing to engage your Metal to help him understand what you need and want from both a career and him, I truly believe Simon will get on board with your desires. Then, his Wood can help build the bridge to your new career and his Fire will help you celebrate. Good luck!