Dear Vicki: I am writing about my spouse, Caleb. He is an elementary teacher and a truly loving husband and father. As an attorney, I often work long hours and he is always there to take care of our children, and me. Caleb is perfect in so many ways, but he does have one trait that is a real problem. When we are with friends, he tends to share aspects of our life at home that I would rather not have shared. It is nothing terribly personal, just little things that I feel other people do not need to know. I have mentioned this to him before and he says he will change, but that has not happened. I do not know that much about the Five Elements, but reading what you have on your website, I suspect Caleb is an Earth. Can you help me understand – and change – him? Signed, Private in Pennsylvania
Dear Private in Pennsylvania: This is an interesting issue. On the surface, if Caleb is sharing minor details with others, it shouldn’t matter. And it probably wouldn’t matter to most of the elemental personalities, especially another Earth. But as an attorney, you most likely have a good amount of Metal, and Metals value privacy. Metals also tend to compartmentalize aspects of their life, clearly delineating what is work, what is home, what is public, and what is private with the goal of keeping them separate. Earth people rarely make this level of distinction. More importantly, sharing what’s going on for them is an important way Earths connect with others.
You say you want to understand your husband, so let’s start there. Yes, Caleb is most certainly an Earth person. And for an Earth, building bridges and connecting with others is very important. Earths are also much less discriminating than some of the other elements, so for them a connection is a connection, no matter where it’s found. When Caleb shares information or events from his life, it’s a mechanism for weaving a bridge between himself and others. And this is usually such an automatic response in Earths that it’s likely he doesn’t stop to ponder the issue of appropriateness before he speaks. So what can you do?
The good news is that the same Earth energy that propels Caleb to connect with others will help him shift the pattern of too much sharing. Loving and keeping their primary partner happy is incredibly important to Earths. The bad news is that Caleb will probably never be as private as you might like – Earths just can’t help it; they are wired to share.
Begin by acknowledging with Caleb that the two of you probably have different ideas regarding what is “appropriate” to share with friends. You might also acknowledge that it isn’t wrong to share with friends, you’re just asking that he move a bit more toward your comfort level. His Earth will most likely agree to try, although it’s quite possible he doesn’t really understand where you want to draw the boundary. You will need to address that next.
Agree on a code word or phrase that you can easily drop into a conversation in front of others when Caleb begins to share more information than you would like. Many couples use a phrase like, “Why, that’s something Aunt Mary would say.” It doesn’t let on that there’s a problem, but it’s distinctive enough (especially if there’s no “Aunt Mary” in the family), that it catches the attention of the person about to share “too much.” Then, when you’re alone, explain to him why you were uncomfortable with what was shared. Once he has a better understanding of your boundaries, he should be able to start shifting what he says more toward your comfort level.
That said, there’s something else that’s probably contributing to Caleb’s enthusiastic sharing: the flow of his relationship energy is probably disrupted. You and Caleb relate on the Nurturing Cycle, with his Earth energy feeding your Metal. However, because you work long hours, you aren’t readily available for his Earth energy to flow to you. He will feel this disconnect in a much deeper way than you will because Earths need to connect and Metals don’t. Earths especially need lots of time with their primary partner, and for Caleb, that would be you.
To address this, you might schedule regular “date nights” with Caleb to connect one-on-one. Use this opportunity to share with him what’s going on in your world. I guarantee he will share back because the chance to share with you is something he needs. Another factor to remember is that even though it’s his Earth energy feeding your Metal on the Nurturing Cycle, his Earth gets as much from this flow as you do. Earths need to be needed, and mutual connecting is a feedback mechanism for validating that they matter. If you make your date nights a top priority, and really share with him from your heart, you might be surprised to find that Caleb’s tendency to share details with others will decrease. Instead of him building bridges to others, you will be strengthening the bridge between the two of you. Blessings to you!