Dear Vicki: I’m a Metal with a Wood secondary married to a Fire guy who has a lot of Earth. I sometimes wonder how we’ve made it seven years when we’re so different, but we have. In the good times, Rory’s Fire keeps my Metal from getting too stuck, and I’ve definitely learned to enjoy life, laugh, and play more thanks to him. And he says he appreciates how I help hold things together for him. But lately, I feel like I’m the more masculine person in this relationship. I’m the one who sets boundaries, makes plans, keeps us on track, etc. I’m tired of that and angry with him most of the time now. I really wish he could be the man in the family, especially now when we’re facing financial problems that require careful planning and holding to a budget. I think I need to bring out his inner Wood so he can help get things done. How do I do that? Signed: Needs More Wood
Dear Needs More Wood: The issue you’re having with Rory is one of structure, so it makes sense that you would want him to manifest more Wood, which is the second most structured of the elements. Metal is the most. From a structure perspective, that means that you have as a primary and secondary the two most structured elements possible. Rory, as you know, is much less structured. In fact, his primary Fire is the least structured of all of the elements. Fire is really just light; it is heat made visible. No structure there. But Earth does have structure, and that is important.
I think it’s this issue of structure that’s fueling your belief that you’re more “masculine” than Rory. In our patriarchal culture, the masculine principle (yang) is always seen as more structured and “no nonsense.” The feminine principle (yin) is more diffuse and go with the flow. But the Five Elements model teaches us that any whole needs equal amounts of yin and yang interacting in a dynamic fashion to maintain balance. That includes the “whole” that is your marriage. As you stated in your letter, during good times you and Rory do keep each other pretty balanced. But now that you’re in a tough spot, you aren’t feeling very balanced. Let’s see what we can do to move your marriage back to balance and also provide you with support.
You suggest that building your husband’s Wood energy would support you. This is certainly doable, but the results might not be to your liking. First, it sounds like your household really doesn’t need more Wood energy. Based on your comment that you’re angry most of the time, it’s likely that your Wood might be in an over-energy state. Second, Wood is new yang, which means more Wood creates more yang energy. In spite of the fact that you wish for more masculine energy from Rory, your household doesn’t really need more yang; it needs more balance. Third, Woods are excellent visionaries and planners who like to do things their way. Another Wood arguing for a different plan might not go over well with you and could actually create additional tension in your marriage. Instead, a quick look at how your elements affect each other will help us find the best way for you two to interact on the issue of creating and holding to a budget.
Your secondary Wood and Rory’s secondary Earth relate on the Controlling Cycle (Wood anchors Earth), which can make for problems. When his Earth is looking for connection and cuddles, your Wood will have “more important” things to do. This will hurt him and possibly cause him to withdraw, which could further stress the relationship. But from an interaction perspective, the more immediate issue for the two of you is that his primary Fire and your primary Metal also relate on the Controlling Cycle (Fire melts Metal). This means that when you’re trying to be serious about budgets, he will probably try to keep things light since, as we all know, it’s not a fun topic to discuss. This will really bother your Metal because information and structure are important topics for Metals.
The two areas of strength in your relationship are the Nurturing Cycle connections you have: Your secondary Wood to his primary Fire, and his secondary Earth to your primary Metal. From the sound of things, you aren’t going to appreciate more Fire trying to melt your Metal, but more Earth to feed your Metal will probably feel good. Slightly more Metal will also help you control your own Wood, which as we’ve said, is likely on overdrive these days. Finally, Metal is new yin which will support the yin energy in your relationship. Earth is balance, which will be good for encouraging balance between you and Rory.
When using the elements to support a relationship, the goal is to interact from a position of harmony as often as possible. There will be more harmony in your marriage if you stay in your Metal (instead of your Wood) and he stays in his Earth (instead of his Fire). From there you can discuss what each of you can do to manifest the solutions you need. Perhaps you have Wood expectations regarding how getting things done should look. Perhaps he has Fire expectations that getting things done will be boring. But if your Metal can be detached and brilliant (which it can), and Rory’s Earth can be supportive and encouraging (which it can), together you can approach the subject in a positive and productive manner.
As a Fire/Earth, Rory is probably never going to be a structured, macho kind of guy. And as we’ve said, your Metal and Wood probably wouldn’t like it all that well if he was. But if you sit in this joint Metal/Earth place and seek creative ways to get things sorted out and accomplished, you might just be surprised at how perfect your Fire/Earth guy really is for you. Blessings!