Dear Vicki: I found your blog after searching for relationship tips between the elemental types! I know I am dominantly Fire with Wood, and my husband Jim is dominantly Metal. We have been together 10 years and there are times I still don’t feel close to him or understand how to connect with him. His “metal-ness” of being so rigid and structured confuses me a lot and I am not sure what the best way to connect with him is. At times I feel like he disapproves or judges me, and decides I am too silly! Last year our marriage was in a serious crisis and I have worked hard to bring my Fire back in control to be in the marriage and am seeking ways on how we can strengthen our bond. Any advice for a Fire and Metal marriage? Signed: Fire/Wood Wondering
Dear Fire/Wood: There are many ways to strengthen the bonds between people, and almost all of them require that both parties maintain open channels of communication and are willing to take the time to understand each other. The beauty of using the Five Elements model with relationships is that it not only helps us understand each other and our relationship dynamics, it also helps us identify the communication style that will work best with each of the elements. Let’s look at your relationship dynamics with Jim first because they do set the stage for everything else.
You and Jim relate via the Controlling Cycle, with your Fire controlling his Metal. As you probably know from being married to him for ten years, Metals are serious people who value order and structure. On the other hand, Fires are playful people who value enjoying life. Because your Fire controls his Metal, Jim probably feels threatened when you are too fiery (which he could easily see as “silly”). Fire people usually have little structure (in nature, fire is simply heat made visible) and are fine being playful and going where the moment takes them. When this happens, Metal will often up its game around Fire to bring more structure to a situation they perceive as chaos. But to a Fire, fun is never chaos, it’s just pure joy. This is likely one reason why Jim’s behavior often confuses you.
Unfortunately, when a Metal ups their game around Fire and brings more structure, the Fire’s automatic (and unconscious) response is usually to up their own game in an attempt to bring flexibility to the Metal’s stance because it’s Fire’s job to keep Metal in balance. That’s what the Controlling Cycle is all about. But when you bring more Fire to the equation, instead of dialing down his judgment of your behavior, Jim probably either ramps up his Metal even more or removes himself from the situation completely, likely with a judgmental flair that feels to you like disapproval.
One way to counter this dynamic and create a bond between you and Jim is for you to provide structure for yourself. Your secondary element is Wood, which is second only to Metal in its ability to be structured. Not only will more Wood energy feel safer to Jim, but Woods and Metals often bond over projects and ideas. Technically, it should be easy for you to step into Wood when you need to and stay more structured. However, there are two issues that might make this more difficult. First, Wood feeds Fire, so more Wood energy could feed your Fire and actually make you more fiery and less structured. Second, your Wood relates to Jim’s Metal via the Controlling Cycle, with his Metal controlling your Wood. This means that if you try to bring more Wood to your relationship, your husband could easily (and again, unconsciously) take steps to prune it back leaving you feeling judged and your easiest access to structure quite literally cut off.
The better way for you to create a bond in your marriage is to find a way to relate to each other via the Nurturing Cycle. The good news is that, for a Fire/Metal relationship, it will be easier than you think. The fortunate aspect of your relationship with Jim is that you both relate to the Earth element via the Nurturing Cycle. Your Fire feeds Earth, and Earth feeds Jim’s Metal. This is wonderful because relationships sit in Earth! House and home sit in Earth! Deep connections sit in Earth! This means that anything you can do to build the Earth element between you and Jim will help strengthen the bond between the two of you.
The even better news is that more Earth element will feel nature to both of you. In nature, an earthen hearth is the natural container for fire. It’s also said that the initial connections created in Fire find a home in Earth. And because Earth is what feeds Metal, more Earth energy will feel right to Jim, too. Metals can have a vibe of entitlement, so they see it as perfectly natural that someone would want to feed and/or cater to them. But let me be clear I am not suggesting you cater to your husband. I am suggesting that you bring more Earth energy into your relationship and that doing so will feel good to your husband.
Easy ways to bring more Earth energy into your marriage include the following possibilities:
- Spend more time together in nature. If you can present Jim with a rational reason to be outdoors – like it is good for the mind – he will be more inclined to embrace time spent outdoors. Metals respond well to anything that makes sense to them. Gardening is great for building Earth if you want to try that.
- Celebrate important events or accomplishments with food and drink. This is quintessential Earth and usually feels really good to Metals because they like being acknowledged. But manage your Fire during these celebrations; too much Fire will feel threatening to Jim’s Metal. If necessary, wear blue (the color of Water) to help keep your Fire in check (Water controls Fire).
- Bring more Earth energy indoors by decorating your home with clay pottery, using Earth colors like yellow, rust, brown, and orange in your décor, and placing lots of healthy plants around the house. Peppermint essential oil builds Earth, so an oil diffuser can help, too.
- You can build Earth in both of you by drinking ginseng, ginger, or lemon balm tea.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, ongoing communication is very important in a marriage, but you need to communicate with Jim in a way he will hear you. Metals focus on the past. They are the synthesizers of the world, able to analyze the past to bring forth wisdom. It is often hard for Metals to think about the future (very natural for your Wood) or even the present (where your Fire lives). To reach Jim, try reinforcing what has worked well for you in the past. To make a point or anchor something you are hoping to create in the future, try complementing something he did before, reminisce about good times, or suggest you do more of an activity you both enjoyed at one time. It will be easy for him to hear this and will build on something from the past to create the future. This is what Metals do, so it will feel natural to him.
I truly believe that if you and Jim engage in Earth activities like making dinner together, time spent in nature, even taking a cooking class, you can strengthen your bond with him. At a deep level, Metals do know they need Fire around to keep them pliant, which is likely why Jim fell in love with you in the first place. Blessings to you!