Dear Vicki: I’m writing because I’m worried about my mother. My father passed away five years ago when my mom was just 50. It was hard on her because they were high school sweethearts and he had a long illness. Two years ago my mom started seeing a guy she met on a blind date and initially, I thought it was wonderful. Griffith is her age, has been divorced for a decade, and owns a car dealership in our area. He’s got a fiery personality that makes him great at selling cars, and he really helped bring mom out of her self-imposed shell. My concern is that over the past year they have settled into a rhythm of spending most of their free time together, so I think they should be making some kind of a commitment to each other. That’s the right thing to do. My mother is an Earth, which means lasting connections matter to her. I’m not sure Griffith is going to stick around for the long term, and know it will hurt her deeply when he leaves. What should I do? Signed: Doubting Daughter in Detroit
Dear Daughter: It’s wonderful that you’re looking out for your mother. Bless you! Losing a spouse after such a long time together can be devastating, especially for an Earth. And bless her for allowing herself to be drawn into another relationship. Many Earths find that almost impossible to do when a long term relationship ends; they just can’t see themselves being that close to anyone ever again.
But as you have already stated, the truth of the matter is that Earths do need deep connections and can feel empty without them. Your mother clearly has at least one child to be close to. Perhaps you have siblings, and some of you may have children, giving her grandchildren to love and spoil (as Earths will do). And while these connections will certainly fill your mother’s heart and probably her time, Earths are usually happiest when they also have a deep primary connection to serve as a drumbeat for the daily rhythm of their lives. Your father was clearly that deep connection for your mother. And now it’s possible that Griffith is filling that need, as well.
Your concern that Griffith might leave your mother is understandable. He does sound like a Fire. Pure Fire usually desires intense, short term connections and can become bored when the excitement of the newness wears off. When that happens, pure Fire will scatter to the wind in search of something else. But for the time being, it’s important to note that Griffith and your mother have a Nurturing Cycle relationship (Fire feeds Earth), and this is probably exactly what she needs. After years of taking care of a sick husband, the attention, energy, and sheer fun that a Fire offers is likely healing her. Also, the perfect container for Fire, the perfect element to hold Fire and keep it from scattering, is Earth. So not only does he feed her, but she helps stabilize him. This can help make theirs a deep and lasting relationship.
And remember, no one is pure Fire – everyone has a secondary that will affect the expression of their primary element. The fact that Griffith runs a successful business suggests that he has some degree of structure in his secondary element. It could be Wood, Metal, or even Earth. Each of these will interact with your mother’s Earth in distinct ways.
- If Griffith is a Fire/Wood, his Fire will still feed your mother, but his secondary Wood will relate to her on the Controlling Cycle. This can be both positive and negative. The negative is that her Earth could feel hampered and held back by his Wood. But the positive is that any over-expression of Earth your mother might have (think: worrying, feeling guilty, etc.) will be managed by the presence of his Wood.
- If Griffith is a Fire/Metal, his Fire will still feed your mother, but his secondary Metal will also relate to her on the Nurturing Cycle. This time, however, it is her Earth that will feed his Metal. And while the demands of Metal can sometimes feel draining to Earths, the more likely scenario is that Earth appreciates being needed by someone. In this scenario, Griffith will feed your mom (Fire to Earth) and your mom will feed Griffith (Earth to Metal).
- If Griffith is a Fire/Earth, his Fire will still feed your mother and his secondary Earth will understand her perfectly. This can a very comfortable scenario for both of them. Earth/Earth relationships are usually very stable as long as they don’t get stuck or co-dependent. But Griffith’s primary Fire will absolutely keep that from happening, so once again, it could be a great and long lasting relationship.
I also want to point out that you are looking at your mom’s and Griffith’s relationship through the filter of your own element. The fact that you think they should make some kind of a commitment because “it’s the right thing to do” suggests that you might be a Metal. Process and protocol matter to Metals, so it would be natural for you to think they should make a commitment. Also, if you are a Metal you will be used to a Nurturing Cycle relationship with your mother where she feeds you (Earth feeds Metal). It might be a good idea to make sure that your aren’t just a little jealous that your mother is giving significant time and attention to someone else. Metals feel it is the natural way of the world for Earths to feed them and that is often hard to give up.
The bottom line is that, if your primary concern deals with Griffith tiring of your mother, a commitment isn’t going to make a difference. Fires are going to be Fires with or without a commitment. Perhaps the better approach is to trust that your mother knows what she’s doing. The truth is that no matter how long Griffith is with her, he is probably helping her heal and define herself in this new stage of her life. Of course, if you observe any behaviors that make you question his good intentions toward your mother, you should share them with her right away. But otherwise, I encourage you to sit back and enjoy the glory when Earth and Fire mix. Blessings to you and your mother!