Work, Family, Marriage: Can She Find the Balance?

Dear Vicki: A few weeks ago, my husband James and I arranged childcare for our three children so we could enjoy a romantic dinner out because our relationship is very important to us. Plus, I’d just finished a big project for the accounting firm where I work and James had recently been promoted to manager of his sales department, so we were both looking forward to celebrating. While we were holding hands in our romantic booth, my cell rang. Worried it might be the babysitter, I checked the number and saw that it was a coworker on my project. Thinking something might be wrong and I could fix it then let it go, I picked up the call. This didn’t go over well with James. He said this was our personal time and I should have ignored the call once I knew it wasn’t the sitter. Who’s right? Signed, Right or Wrong?

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Dear Right or Wrong: This is a great example of the significant differences between the elemental personalities and how they react in any given situation. Based on your occupations and behaviors as described in your letter, I’m going to guess that you are a primary Metal personality and your husband is a primary Wood personality. However, I also think you each have a great deal of Earth energy due to the fact that you both value your relationship so much and have chosen to have a family of three children.

In all likelihood, as a Metal person, you probably didn’t see any harm in taking a call to quickly dispense with a problem. But as you found out, your Wood personality husband clearly didn’t like his romantic dinner interrupted by your work. Let’s look at the dynamics at play here to help you better understand what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid this kind of thing going forward.

As a Metal personality, you have the enviable ability of being able to compartmentalize most aspects of your life. When you’re at work, you focus on work. At home, you focus on home. Most Metal people are great at detaching; none of the other elemental personalities can do this as well. So at dinner, it wasn’t hard for you to step out of the romance into work for a brief moment or two, fix the problem, then detach from work and step right back into the romance. Ah, that the rest of us could follow your lead.

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America, Democracy, and Personality

Dear Readers: I wish you all a happy Fourth of July in whatever way you do (or don’t) acknowledge the day. Here in the USA, July 4th is when we celebrate the signing of our Declaration of Independence in 1776, an act that formalized our move from a colony of Great Britain to an independent nation fashioned as a democracy.

By anyone’s standards, breaking from Great Britain was a bold and dangerous move and I’ve always wondered what it must have been like to be one of those early colonists. Several years ago, I had an animated discussion with a friend who announced that she was sure the early colonists were mostly Wood personalities. When I asked her why, she said that Woods are the adventuresome, bossy types who get done what needs to be done. We laughed, but then had an excellent discussion that concluded with the obvious belief that it took all of the elemental personalities to create and claim American independence.

To honor the anniversary of America’s declared intent to be an independent nation based on democratic principles, I would like to share a brief summary of how important each elemental personality was to the creation of America. Enjoy!

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Family Feud over Fourth of July

Dear Readers: This is a timely “oldie but goodie” from our files. Enjoy! 

Dear Vicki: The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge for our family. My sixteen-year-old daughter, Joni, wants to have a huge picnic, invite all of her friends, and shoot off fireworks after dark (we live where they are legal). Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering or maybe even a night at the movies. Of course, Joni claims that would be boring. To make matters worse, Jake, my husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness – along with a few close friends – would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, we are a family divided. Any suggestions? Signed, Fractured Family

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Dear Fractured Family: Holidays are never easy because everyone has expectations, and those expectations will always be colored by our elemental personalities. Different personalities will want to celebrate holidays in different ways, as you are clearly finding out. So, let’s take a look at how to resolve the issues and create the possibility of a happy July 4thcelebration for everyone.

Joni, who wants a big party with lots of people, excitement, and activity sounds like a primary Fire personality. Excitement and activity are the epitome of fun for Fire people. And fireworks? The name says it all. Plus, the Independence Day holiday occurs during summer, which is Fire’s season. This means Joni’s Fire personality is likely revved up even more by summer and she’s really ready to party.

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Are We Really Who We Think We Are?

Dear Vicki: I’ve recently been introduced to the Five Element personalities and it really has helped me understand a lot of things about my family and several friends. However, I’m a bit confused by three girlfriends who each took a quiz to help them determine their elemental personality and all three came out as predominantly Fire personalities. I find that hard to believe because they are all calm, sensible, considerate, reliable people who tend to keep their inner thoughts to themselves. I would say they are content with their day-to-day lives, in particular their families, and are not ambitious in any way. None of them likes the limelight and they tend to have a few good friends, not a vast circle. I have several other friends who do tick all the boxes as classic Fire personalities, but I can’t understand how these three women (all in their 40s and 50s) scored so high for a Fire personality. Can you explain this? Signed: Confused in Conway

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Dear Confused: It’s wonderful that you’re studying the Five Elements personalities and finding them useful! Clearly, I think they’re fantastic tools for understand all sorts of people. Your question about quiz results is an excellent – and not uncommon – one. There are many different Five Elements online quizzes available these days, but regardless of the one your friends took, there are several possible reasons why the results don’t seem to jive with their actual personalities. Let’s take a quick look at what might be going on.

First and foremost, the results of any personality test will only be as good as the test itself. This means that some personality tests will naturally give more accurate results than others. Focusing specifically on Five Elements tests, it’s important to remember that the Five Elements as a model comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where it is used as a diagnostic tool to guide treatments of the physical form (as well as some emotional and mental issues). Because of that, many Five Elements tests include questions about physical illnesses or proclivities one might find in a person with an abundance of a specific element.

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Her Mother Wasn’t a “Good” Mother

Dear Vicki: I work full time as a corporate accountant, have a houseful of teenagers, a busy husband, and now my widowed mother has moved in with us. On the surface it’s going well, but deep inside I feel a great deal of resentment toward her. She was not a good mother when I was growing up. She wasn’t warm and cuddly. She kept us clean and fed, and she read to us nightly, but beyond that we were on our own while she painted and pursued her career in art. She wasn’t like my friends’ mothers who baked brownies and knit them sweaters. I never felt mothered by her, but now she is expecting me to mother her. I’m having a lot of trouble with that. Signed, No Cuddles

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Dear No Cuddles: Every child needs mothering, and everyone can mother in some way or another, but what that looks like will be very different depending on the elemental personalities involved. To manage all that you’re managing and succeed as a corporate accountant, I suspect you are a primary Metal personality. Metal people are usually very structured, very organized, and find it easy (and often necessary) to stick to schedules. The fact that your mother was an artist who didn’t bake brownies or knit you sweaters while you were growing up suggests that she is probably a primary Water personality. Water people are the artists of the world; they will devote hours to manifesting mind-blowing creations, but usually don’t have the structure (or interest) to run a household.

In the Five Elements model, Earth feeds Metal on the Nurturing Cycle, so an Earthy kind of mothering would have seemed attractive to you. However, as a Water person who prized time alone to create, your mother could have thought she was giving you an incredible gift by allowing you time alone, as well. I suggest you consider the possibility that, while your friends may have had mothers who focused a great deal of attention on them, your Metal personality might have found an abundance of attention pretty suffocating. I’m in no way suggesting that your childhood was perfect, but if you examine it from the perspective of what your elemental personality values, you may find that in some respects it was a good match for you. That said, what matters most is how you relate to your mother now, so let’s find ways you can improve that relationship.

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