Dear Vicki: I’m hoping you can help me sort things out with my husband, Weston. Our oldest daughter divorced last year and when the pandemic started, she moved back home bringing her active two-year-old son because his daycare closed. Fortunately, we could turn Weston’s basement study into an apartment for Stacy and Jimmy, and things have worked out well. At least I think so. But since they’ve been with us, Weston has really changed. I thought this would be a great time for our family with Stacy managing her IT team from here and Weston’s promotion (he’s a hydraulic engineer and also manages a team from home). It seemed so perfect! We’re all here! But apparently not. My previously optimistic, go with the flow husband has become a gloomy cynic who ignores Stacy, picks on Jimmy, and eats potato chips like there’s no tomorrow. He’s gained 30 pounds! What can I do? Signed: Worried for Weston
Dear Worried for Weston: As you no doubt know, these are difficult times for most people in one way or another. Many people are working from home these days and for some it’s heaven, but for others, not so much. Yet I don’t really think the working from home is Weston’s issue. Rather, I think many of the recent changes in his life are negatively affecting his primary elemental personality. So, let’s take a look at that.
I suspect that Weston is a Water personality. After all, he’s a hydraulic engineer: a water specialist! But he’s clearly an out of balance Water person. And given everything that’s going on around him, I think it’s safe to say he’s experiencing a low ebb. When someone’s Water energy is in a deficient state, they can feel disconnected from things around them and become pessimistic, cynical, and yes, gloomy. They can also crave salt, which explains the potato chips. I think if we look at what’s been happening in Weston’s life the past several months, we’ll be able to identify some of what’s causing him to be so out of sorts.
Given that your reaction to your daughter and grandson moving back home was elation, I suspect you are a primary Earth personality. Earth people love having family around. But as much as Weston surely loves Stacy and Jimmy, as a Water personality he needs solitude. Think back to before Stacy returned home. Weston probably spent a good amount of time alone in his basement study reading, writing, and pondering things the way Water people love to ponder. With Stacy back, Weston has lost his retreat area and thus his easy access to time alone. This will absolutely decrease his Water energy.
Weston’s promotion at work is also probably affecting his Water energy. As a hydraulic engineer, he likely worked independently. But as a manager now, he will be required to interact regularly with the people who report to him, which also cuts into his solitude. It probably also requires attending more meetings than before, and Water people usually hate meetings. This means that his current work life is also probably depleting Weston’s Water. A final aspect contributing to Weston’s depleted Water energy could be the dynamics in your home, and for this we will turn our wonderful Five Elements model.
First, as an Earth personality, you relate to Weston on the Control Cycle (the big star in the model above). It can be said that your Earth energy controls Weston’s Water energy. With the addition of a daughter and grandson to the house during the pandemic, your joy and Earth energy has probably increased ten-fold because you have almost constant access to them. But more Earth energy coming at Weston from you likely depletes his Water.
Second, I’m guessing here, but if Stacy is managing a team, she is likely be a primary (or possibly secondary) Wood personality. Water feeds Wood via the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle in the model above), so having her in the house would likely draw on Weston’s Water energy, also depleting it. This might be why Weston appears to be ignoring Stacy; he might sense she depletes him.
Third, a rambunctious toddler in the house might feel fiery to Weston. Again, looking at the model, it is Water’s job to help keep Fire in control (via the big star). So if Weston perceives Jimmy as out of control, he might automatically step forward and try to control him. And yes, this can also deplete his Water energy. The fact that he seems to be picking on your grandson also supports this possibility.
Finally, all engineers have a large amount of Metal energy in their personalities for the structure and attention to detail that it brings. Weston’s new managerial position likely requires even more structure, so he has probably stepped more firmly into the Metal pert of his personality. As you can see in the model above, Metal relates to Water on the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle), so normally his own Metal energy would make sure his Water energy was kept up. But to be successful in his managerial position, he’s probably keeping a greater focus on his Metal energy, which would allow less of it to flow to his Water. Less nurturing energy to Water is also depleting.
In summary, what’s happening in almost every aspect of Weston’s life and environment right now depletes his Water energy. But there’s a lot you and your family can do to help him build it back. First and foremost, arrange for Weston to have time alone. Perhaps you, Stacy, and Jimmy can enjoy an outdoor picnic, time in a local park, or even a movie at home without Weston. This will give his Water personality the time it needs to be alone.
Also, manage your Earth energy around him. This means not expecting him to be part of every single event you have planned for your family life right now (remember, Water people need space to flow). Support any Watery activity in which he wants to engage, from painting to boating to discussing philosophy. And if he has a favorite place near water (a lake, river, or ocean area you can guarantee won’t be too crowded), plan a trip there with Stacy and Jimmy, but make sure you give Weston time and space to be alone to recharge his Water energy.
Finally, since his basement study was given to Stacy and Jimmy, have you created a new study area for Weston? If not, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible, even if it means converting a spare bedroom into a small study for him. Water people absolutely need a place they can go to be quiet and ponder what’s going on in life and the world. This is one of the most basic ways they replenish their energy when it becomes depleted. And once he has his own study area again, you might consider painting it blue, placing a small fountain in it, and decorating it with photos or paintings of water. This will all help build back his Water energy.
If you can follow this guidance, hopefully it won’t be too long before Weston is back to his philosophic, go with the flow self. Blessings to you and your family! Stay safe and well.