Dear Vicki: My husband and I divorced years ago. We never had children, which was fine with me since I spent almost every hour of the day building my medical practice. Apparently it wasn’t fine with Jim because he remarried within a year of our divorce and had two children with his new wife. We both stayed in Albany. Our paths rarely crossed, but in the little spare time I had, I did think of him a lot. Now, twenty-five years later, he is a widower and manages the restaurant he has owned for decades. I am retiring and wonder if there is any possibility that we might try again. I was an idiot to leave him, but now that I’m done working I think things could be better. I’m new to the Five Elements but suspect I’m a Metal and Jim is probably an Earth. Signed: Alone in Albany
Dear Alone: This is certainly an intriguing question. The Five Elements can help us understand each other and ourselves. They can explain why some connections are harmonious and others discordant. They can even predict what issues we might have when we interact with someone. But they can’t really explain love. Love is, well, sort of mystical and a connection of the soul. The Five Elements are part of our personality.
That said, it sounds like you might still love your ex-husband. If that’s the case, there’s no harm in reaching out to see where things might stand for Jim. You don’t mention how long ago his second wife passed, but that might make a difference in the reception you receive from him. Earths cherish long-term relationships and don’t let go of them easily. He might think it strange that you are contacting him now, or he might welcome a connection from the past. With Earths, it’s hard to say, so you’ll just have to take your chances. But before you do call Jim, it might help you to consider why your marriage to him failed in the first place and if things might really be different for you a second time around.
You and Jim relate on the Nurturing Cycle with his Earth feeding your Metal. Technically, this should have been a rather perfect set up for both of you. Earths love to do things for people and Metals love to have people do things for them, as long as they stay out of the way. As an Earth, Jim probably wanted more connection and togetherness than you did, especially if you were trying to build a medical practice. Metals approach their careers with laser focus and often make it the top priority in their lives. Earths make relationships their top priority. Food is a close second for them, so it sounds like Jim chose his career wisely. Good for him!
In some ways it’s not surprising that you find yourself thinking of Jim. Metals focus on the past. That is where they learn lessons that allow them to bring wisdom forward to the present. I encourage you to review your time with Jim and ponder what worked between the two of you and, more importantly, what did not. When you fought, what was it about? Have you changed enough to address issues you could not adequately address years ago? As a physician, you probably worked long hours and were likely an out of balance Metal. Is your life saner now? More balanced?
From Jim’s perspective, you will need to know if he is done mourning his wife. If not, he won’t be emotionally available. And how actively is he involved in the lives of his children? Does he have grandchildren? Earths will want to spend as much time as possible with close family members, especially grandchildren. You never wanted to be a mother, but are you willing to become a grandmother figure to Jim’s grandchildren? Metals usually aren’t interested in that kind of thing unless they have Earth as a secondary. And given your decision to focus on helping people through a medical career, it’s possible that you do have a secondary Earth that expressed itself through your career instead of a family. Also, Jim is a business owner who probably needs to put as much time into the restaurant as you put into your career. Are you willing to accept his commitment to the restaurant and make it part of your life? Time with Jim twenty-five years later will be very different – and infinitely more complicated – than it was when you were first together. There is also the possibility that even though you might still be in love with Jim, he may no longer feel that way about you.
There is much to consider here. From a Five Elements perspective, you and Jim should be able to create a nurturing relationship. His Earth focus on close connections and natural affinity to “feed” Metals could make it seem like a natural fit for him. Your focus on the past will make this comfortable for you, and hopefully your Metal tendency to learn from the past will ensure you don’t repeat previous mistakes. In the end, as my grandmother used to say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I encourage you to reach out to Jim, express condolences on his loss, and see if he is interested in reconnecting. Then let nature take her course. If there is still that magical spark of love between you, time together should allow it to bloom once again. Blessings to you!