Dear Vicki: I’m married to a workaholic! Jason goes to work early, stays late, takes calls on weekends, and is forever checking his cell phone. We’ve been married for 10 years and during that time he’s done well in his law firm. But now he’s obsessed with becoming a partner, so all he cares about are his numbers, referrals, and keeping a high profile. When I mention quitting my secretarial job to start a family, which he knows matters a lot to me, he says it just isn’t the right time for him yet. That may be, but this isn’t just about him. My biological clock is ticking and I’m worried I’m running out of time. This whole thing is exhausting. What can I do to get back the loving and attentive Jason I married before he went to law school? Signed: Alone in LA
Dear Alone: The short answer to your question is that you will probably never “get back” the Jason you knew in college. Time takes us forward into new experiences and these experiences change our views, priorities, and goals. Hopefully, your relationship with Jason is strong enough to morph with these shifts. It’s likely you knew Jason wanted a career in law before you married him, but perhaps you were unaware of what that might entail. And even if you were, the reality of life with an attorney may not be all you’d hoped. So let’s see if there are ways we can help you adjust, adapt, and possibly even feel better.
The fact that Jason is an attorney suggests that he is probably a primary Metal personality. Metal people are excellent with detail, hierarchy, and protocol, all of which are very important in the practice of law. However, his strong drive (even need) to make partner in his firm suggests that he also has a lot of Wood energy in his personality. The self-esteem so important for most Wood people usually comes from doing a brilliant job and succeeding. And within the structure of a law firm, the young attorneys who bill the most hours – meaning they work the most hours – usually get the best reviews and the promotions. Jason is being true to his combination of Metal and Wood personalities: he is playing by the rules of the game to get ahead.
You, on the other hand, appear to have a primary Earth personality. For Earth people, especially Earth women, family and home are exceedingly important. Earth people also love helping others, which usually makes them great secretaries or administrative assistants in the business world. People with primary Earth personalities do for others out of the goodness of their hearts, and this is a key aspect of your relationship with Jason.
Within the Five Elements model, you relate to Jason’s Metal personality on the Nurturing Cycle, where your Earth energy feeds his Metal. This is a great relationship dynamic as long as you both stay balanced. You love doing things for others and Metals love having things done for them. However, if they become out of balance, Metal personalities can move to a place of expecting people to give them whatever they want. And because Jason is working such long hours, it’s very likely he is out of balance, so is probably demanding more from you than it’s healthy for you to give.
Also, because Jason is so focused on getting ahead, the Wood part of his personality is probably more front and center right now than it has been at other times. As a primary Earth personality, you relate to Jason’s Wood on what is called the Controlling Cycle, with his Wood controlling your Earth. This means that the things your Earth really wants will be stifled by his Wood energy. This usually feels deflating and depleting, and is probably the part of Jason’s personality that’s upsetting you the most right now. While Jason’s Metal energy might agree that ten years into a marriage is a “right” time to start a family, his Wood need for personal accomplishment will not want to spend time with children just yet.
Honestly, it’s not surprising that you’re feeling exhausted by the whole thing. Your Earth energy is being depleted by both his Metal and Wood energies. But equally as important, since we have all five of these personality energies in our being, Jason’s Metal and Wood are also depleting his own Earth. This will definitely make him less interested in starting a family. However, that’s something that can change.
First, I would suggest that you and Jason have a talk regarding your life priorities going forward. Metal and Wood personalities have a lot of structure, so schedule a time to speak with Jason – don’t just spring it on him. I’m assuming you and Jason discussed having children before you married, so remind him this is something you agreed on. Wood personalities are usually exceedingly fair, and Metal people take pride in doing the “right” thing, so this will help support your case.
Second, if you can help Jason build back some of his own Earth energy, it might make him more inclined to contemplate a family. Ways you can do this include: a) adding yellow to your home (think paint, drapery, flowers, quilts, art, etc.) because yellow builds Earth, b) sharing great food together (most Earth people are foodies), c) drinking ginger or ginseng tea (this balances Earth energies), and d) infusing the essential oils of lemon balm or peppermint into your home (they also balance Earth energies). But don’t go too far with any of these. Remember that too much Earth energy will only feed his Metal and focus more attention on his career.
Finally, I strongly encourage you to work with a qualified counselor. Inserting a third person into the energy dynamics you and Jason have going on will be a relief for both of you and also force him to pay attention; it’s hard to ignore a counseling appointment. It will also stop the combative dynamic between the two of you and help direct you to a fair resolution on this very important issue. Blessings to you!