Dear Vicki: I am a Fire/Wood. I recently moved in with my Water/Metal boyfriend and things are not going well. Now that Frank and I live under the same roof, it feels like I’m walking around in a water-soaked blanket and my happy Fire feels shut down. To compensate, my Fire grows and I go into panic and anxiety. Plus, Frank’s Metal can be so sharp and detached that I feel a great deal of anger toward him. He often goes into his deep place of yearning for information and leaves me to take care of “our life” for long periods of time. I am fighting off resentment and doing my best to be compassionate while keeping the reasons we fell in love in the first place in the forefront of my mind, but I am struggling. What can I do to protect my Fire from being extinguished and get along better with this guy I think I love? Signed: Drowning in Seattle
Dear Drowning: First, let me commend you on the excellent job you’ve done assessing your situation. Also, it’s wonderful that you are attempting to be compassion and keep in mind the reasons you fell in love with Frank. At times that may not be easy. Based on your understanding of the elements, I’m sure it’s not lost on you that you and Frank have a relationship based on the Controlling Cycle, with him doing most of the controlling. His primary Water controls your primary Fire, and his secondary Metal controls your secondary Wood. Also, there is absolutely no overlap in any of your elements. Between the two of you, four of the five elements are represented in your primaries and secondaries. That means there isn’t any common ground between you, which that can make you seem like strangers to each other. But in good times, it can feel like you complete each other.
Right now, it sounds like you’re feeling more like strangers. As you suspect, your Fire is an important piece of the puzzle. But the anxiety and panic you feel isn’t coming from a state of too much Fire when it grows to compensate for all the Water around you. Actually, it’s coming from too little Fire based on all the Water around you. Too much Fire makes one scattered and overwhelmed, too little Fire manifests as anxiety and panic. This means that, as you have surmised, you need to grow your Fire. And this brings us to a fascinating aspect of your relationship dynamics with Frank. At an elemental level, he could be the perfect person for you. Let me explain.
First, as I’ve written in previous posts, Fire is pure yang and Water is pure yin. This makes a Fire/Water relationship a joining of opposites that allows each a glimpse into a world they will never know. These relationships can be surprisingly strong and balanced. They can certainly be compelling. But more importantly for your specific case, you need what Frank brings to the table. As a Fire/Wood, you carry your own fuel with you (Wood feeds Fire). Unchecked Fire will deplete Wood (thus losing any sense of structure) as it races to burn itself out. Unbalanced Fire/Wood people often crash and burn, and what they need most in their lives is Water. It is the perfect way to balance a Fire/Wood person! Water feeds the Wood via the Nurturing Cycle and balances any overdone Fire too much Wood created via the Controlling Cycle. The perfect amount of Water allows you to stay on an even keel, so to speak. It’s possible that in the beginning of your relationship with Frank, his Water felt soothing, maybe even mysterious. And yet now it is overdone. So let’s see what we can do about that.
The element not represented in yours and Frank’s primary/secondary element mix is Earth, and that’s the key to your current situation. Between you and Frank, you have all that you need to control all of the elements in your mix except for a way to control Frank’s primary Water. There is no check on his Water because neither of you have Earth as a primary or secondary. But based on your attempts to focus on why you two fell in love, stay compassionate, and take care of things in your life when Frank is off on his own, I suspect your third element is Earth. And that’s what you need to build. In fact, building Earth for both you and Frank will help in many ways. Not only will it gently keep his Water in check, it will be a natural focus and container for your Fire. Just as an earthen hearth allows fire to burn long and steady in nature, a Fire element will readily feed Earth element, which has the effect of keeping their Fire from flaring. Less flaring Fire from you melting Frank’s secondary Metal will call forth less Water from Frank, also serving to decrease his Water. Problem solved! But there is more.
Long-term relationships sit in Earth, so a strong presence of Earth in any relationship gives that relationship stability and longevity. And even though Earth isn’t primary or secondary for either of you, if you consciously surround yourself with elements of Earth it will complete the elemental mix in your relationship. When all five elements of the model are well represented in a relationship, the balancing aspects of the model can do their magic and hold each and every element in better balance, including Frank’s Water.
There are many ways to add Earth to your relationship. You can paint your walls yellow (although Frank might initially rebel because the Earth will feel controlling to his Water). But yellow is important for building Earth, so perhaps you can buy yellow sheets for the bed (once asleep, we do not see the color of our sheets). Place clay sculptures around the house or even yellow flowers. Both of you could start wearing citrine or tigers eye crystals, use lemon balm or peppermint essential oils, and drink ginger, ginseng, or lemon balm tea. If possible, you might even plant a small garden that the two of you tend. Gardening builds Earth in everyone. And speaking of being outside in nature, an important piece of this puzzle is Seattle’s weather. You live in a wet area, which is its own contribution to the state of Water in your relationship. Cool dampness isn’t good for Earth energy, so if possible, quick trips to warmer, drier places will help. And if that’s out, you might consider a sauna.
I hope you will try some of the ideas I’ve suggested here because in so many ways, you and Frank have an energy mix that is really compatible. Adding Earth to it could seal the deal and make your Fire and Water relationship one of perfect balance. Blessings to you!