Dear Vicki: I’m having an issue with my husband of three years and hope you can help. Jax is a wise and kind guy who’s really into things being done the “right” way. When he’s stressed, he can get pretty dismissive, but other than that we usually get along really well. Recently, though, we had a significant argument about the upcoming elections. I can’t believe what’s happening in our country and am terribly concerned. Jax just shrugs and tells me not to worry. But so many people are hurting in so many ways, how can I not worry? And how can he be so seemingly indifferent about something so important? Does he even have a heart? What can I do to convince him that he needs to care more? Signed: Worried Wife
Dear Worried Wife: Yours is not the first letter I’ve received about current events here in the U.S. This is not a blog about politics, but fortunately for your situation, I think the issue is less about politics and more about understanding each other. I can’t help you with specific election issues, but I can help you understand some of what’s going on between you and Jax. Much of it has to do with the interaction between your elemental personalities, so let’s start there.
Based on the way you describe Jax, I think it’s safe to say he is a primary Metal elemental personality. Doing things the “right” way, an ability to stay detached, and becoming dismissive when stressed are all pretty characteristic of the Metal personality. And you are clearly a primary Earth personality. Caring what happens to people and a tendency to worry are two very dominant characteristics of Earth people. So, what does that mean for your relationship? To answer that, we will look at our ever-popular Five Elements model.
As you can see in the model above, Earth and Metal relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle). This means the two of you have a Nurturing Cycle relationship where your Earth feeds his Metal. The good news is that people with Nurturing Cycle relationships usually get along well. Your Earth personality will appreciate the opportunity to connect deeply with someone and help them (Earth personalities LOVE to help people). Jax will appreciate positive attention and being cared for; this literally feeds his Metal personality. And in a relatively stable environment, that has probably worked well for you guys. But in intense, non-personal situations, the two of you will probably have diametrically opposed responses. And the election here in the U.S. coupled with a pandemic is, for many people these days, an intense situation. Given this, let’s look at your likely reactions.
As an Earth personality, you are automatically compassionate and will absolutely care about almost everything. It matters deeply to you that people are safe, cared for, and happy. Every election has ramifications and it’s natural for you to be concerned about the impact the results of this one will have on others. The higher the perceived stakes, the more intense you’ll probably feel. A primary stress response for Earth people is worry. And in this kind of situation, telling an Earth personality not to worry is futile. You worry because you care.
Jax, on the other hand, is not a primary Earth personality. He is primary Metal personality. And like most Metal people, he will take a philosophic approach to almost everything – including elections – because Metal people focus on the past and the lessons to be gleaned. Jax probably believes that our country has survived thousands of elections at different levels and the world is still spinning, so why worry.
Another significant difference between the two of you is that Metal people are very patient; they trust process and are willing to let it unfold. Earth people, however, often become invested is specific outcomes based on their desire that everything be okay for everyone. It’s usually very hard for the Earth personality to detach from outcomes. And therein lies the single biggest difference between you and Jax.
As a Metal personality, Jax has the amazing ability to stay detached during an election. Because Metal people so totally trust process, they are willing to accept whatever outcome the process provides. That means they can detach and wait. It doesn’t mean Metal people don’t care; they usually care quite a bit. They certainly have opinions. But they also have a superpower that makes detachment easy.
A major asset of the Metal personality is their wondrous ability to compartmentalize. Jax probably pays close attention to election information when he is focusing on election information. But then he is able to completely put that aside and focus completely on something else. And because Metal people are kind, if Jax thinks the upcoming election disturbs you, he might try to avoid the subject to avoid upsetting you, unaware that not talking about the election is actually upsetting you more.
So, what can you do? To work things out between the two of you, I encourage you to explain how you feel to Jax in as calm and rational a manner as possible. Facts are the keys to the kingdom for the Metal personality and the more rational you are, the more you will reach Jax. Help him understand what concerns you about the election and then listen to what he has to say. It’s likely he will have a perspective that could ease your worries. And remember the wisdom of a Metal person’s ability to detach. Even just a little detachment on your part will probably help you get through this election cycle.
Finally, for the times Jax does slip into a place of too much Metal energy (which you recognize as dismissiveness), I suggest you increase the fun and joy in your lives as best you can during a pandemic. Play games at home. Spend time outdoors in beautiful locations either as a couple or with friends in a socially distanced fashion. Watch movies at home that you both enjoy, especially funny movies.
Laughing and joy build Fire energy and, as you can see in the Five Elements model, Fire relates to Metal on the Controlling Cycle. This means fun and laughing will help keep Jax’s dismissiveness in check. And not only will the Fire aspect of joy keep Jax’s Metal personality pliant, enjoying each other again will be the perfect way to avoid the arguments and keep your relationship strong during these stressful times. Blessings to you! Stay safe and well.