Her Son and New Husband Clash

Dear Vicki: I hope you can help. After 10 years as a single mom/widow, I recently married a guy I really love who brings a great deal of stability to my life. Brad is a smart go-getter who I believe has a lot of Wood in his personality. Unfortunately, my teenage son is also a smart go-getter who has a lot of Wood in his personality. When Brad and I first started dating, he and Gordy (my son) got on great. They played football, discussed sports, and even went driving together in Brad’s sports car. But that all changed when Brad moved in after the wedding. Now, life here is like The Battle of the Titans. I had such hopes for a happy and harmonious family life, but this is absolutely crazy. I love them both, so what can I do? Signed: Weary in Wisconsin

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Dear Weary: You have described life with two Wood people very well; it can be a constant battle. And since both guys love you, it’s not surprising that they were both on their best behavior during the courting period. Woods like to make good impressions because what people think about them matters a lot. From Brad’s perspective, he knew you and Gordy were a package deal, so would have put almost as much energy into impressing Gordy as he put into wooing you. And from Gordy’s perspective, the idea of a cool step-dad after no father figure for 10 years was probably appealing. But as you have discovered, the reality of day-to-day life with two Wood guys living in the same house can be a challenge. So let’s look at ways to make this situation work for everyone.

As you know if you’ve read anything about the Five Elements model, the elements all relate via the Nurturing or Controlling Cycles. For example, while you don’t mention what element you think is primary in your personality, your desire for “a happy and harmonious family life” suggests that you have a lot of Earth energy. Home and family matter deeply to Earths, and conflict of any kind is painful for them. Woods and Earths relate via the Controlling Cycle, with Wood controlling Earth. But because Earth is involved, it is a gentle type of control (unlike, for example, Water controlling Fire where Water actually diminishes Fire by putting it out). In nature, Wood “controls” Earth by using its root system to stabilize the ground. Brad’s presence feels stabilizing to you because, at an elemental level, it really is. And in some ways, Gordy probably felt stabilizing to you, too. As you have discovered, the problem isn’t you with either of your guys, it’s the two guys together. That’s because they have the same elemental personality.

When two people of the same element are in a relationship, there isn’t a dynamic energy flow between them like the Nurturing or Controlling Cycles to keep things moving and fresh. This means that two of any element in a relationship can take on a static, and yes, confrontational dynamic. What that looks like will depend on the elemental personality involved. In your case, it’s two Woods and because Woods tend to be competitive (what you call a “go-getter”), two Woods will compete for what they want. And what do they want? In general, Woods want to make a difference, have grand accomplishments, and be successful in everything they try. They also strive to be the best at whatever they do, although a reasonably mature Wood will usually acknowledge that there will always be people better than them at most things they try. But that drive to be the best is still there and is a large part of what moves them toward success.

A core aspect of the Wood personality is this tendency to compete, so the presence of another Wood will almost automatically create an unconscious dynamic of competitiveness. I think this is what’s going on between Brad and Gordy. And even if some of the tension between them is subtle, as an Earth you will pick up on it anyway. That’s because Earths are tuned in to the vibes of their home. The good news in your situation is that both Woods love you, so will most likely be willing to take a hard look at their behaviors and make any changes you suggest. So here are a few options for you to consider.

Since Brad is the adult and the newcomer to the household, it falls to him to take the first steps toward managing the Wood energy exchanges at home. And even if he doesn’t understand the relationship dynamics of the Five Elements, he will understand that you and Gordy had a stable dynamic for 10 years and his presence has changed that. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to bring up this issue with Brad and obtain his commitment to help ease the tension between himself and Gordy. I am sure he will gladly agree because he loves you. He will also probably be great at it.

Brad will remember what it’s like to be a Wood teenager: You want to do everything and are usually frustrated that some kind of rule is stopping you. Woods hate to be stopped. Instead of jockeying for position as top dog of the household with Gordy (which Brad may not even be aware he’s doing), ask Brad to take more of a mentorship role with Gordy rather than a controlling role. Woods make amazing mentors, partially because a Wood’s focus is usually on the future. This means they are remarkably good at helping whoever they mentor identify and achieve future goals. As a young Wood, this kind of guidance will be invaluable for Gordy. And while Woods are usually not known for their patience, they can be remarkably patient when helping someone improve.

If Brad has trouble resisting the competiveness vibe around Gordy, as silly as it sounds, suggest he wear white around Gordy for a while. White brings out the energy of the Metal element, which is what keeps Wood under control in the Five Elements model. In fact, you might help this process along by making sure your home environment includes lots of white (not a color Earth people usually select) and an abundance of metal features (think sculptures, furniture accents, etc.). Using peppermint or lavender air fresheners at home will also help manage any Wood over-energy.

A brief chat with Gordy will also be a good idea. Help him understand that no one will replace him in your heart; that he will always be your #1 guy. Hearing this and believing it will help him feel less competitive around Brad. You might also point out what an opportunity it is to have access to someone like Brad on a daily basis. Depending on what Gordy is planning for his future (and I guarantee Gordy has plans – it’s in the Wood DNA to plan), help him see that Brad will be able to offer experienced assistance to make those plans materialize. And if Gordy still has trouble stepping down, buy him a pendant of malachite or green aventurine and ask him to wear it under his shirt 24/7 for a few months. These stones really do balance Wood.

If you can help shift the dynamic between Gordy and Brad from competitiveness to cooperation – if they see themselves as playing for the same team – they will form a strong and lasting bond. Wood teammates usually stay fast friends forever. Good luck, and many blessings to you!


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