Dear Vicki: I need help with my marriage. Sam and I have been married for 22 years and have two daughters in college. Five years ago we started our own business and it has been very stressful trying to grow it to profitability. There’s been lots of fighting, arguing, and aloneness these last few years, but never much making up. Starting this business seems to have highlighted our problems and I’m not sure what to do. I’m just learning about the Five Elements, but I think I’m primarily Earth. I also see a fair amount of Wood in me, and some Water. Sam is Metal; very, very Metal. He works all the time and never wants to focus on us. I don’t have enough Fire to lure him away from work or his obsession with structure and schedules, but I think he had some Fire once. When we met, we had so much fun and used to laugh a lot; it was something I loved about him. What do I need to focus on to help my marriage? Build my Wood? I’m so tired of not being supported. I know I need to reconnect with the female relationships I let slide once we started our business, but I’d like to help my marriage, too. What can I do? Signed: Feeling Alone
Dear Feeling Alone: Running a family business is a lot like having another child; it can take everything you have to make it successful. My husband and I ran a business together for several years, so I totally understand what you are going through. As you have found, the business can become the primary focus of everything you do, leaving little time to keep up with other relationships. Sadly, this also means there is less time to do what is necessary to help keep a marriage strong.
At a very intuitive level, you have grasped what needs to be done: you need to help yourself first, then you can help your marriage. As an Earth, strong and lasting connections are of utmost importance to you. Family is everything, certainly more important than business success. Your Wood will want the personal accomplishment, of course, but your primary Earth will care much more about the connections you have with family and close friends. But for Sam as a Metal, business success will matter as much as, if not more than, marriage and family. Unlike Woods, who see success as a reflection of their value as a person, Metals see success as an indication that they are wise and understand the ways of the world. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Also, Woods see the future and believe they have all the time in the world. With that comes the belief that if this business isn’t successful, perhaps the next one will be. Metals, who sit at the end of the Five Elements cycle, see the past and know that they are quite literally running out of time. Structuring that time is a Metal’s way of assuring the time is used wisely. Sam may perceive this business as his only chance to prove himself, so will put his all into it. And remember, unlike Earth, Metals are just fine alone. In fact, many Metals prefer being alone. But if they are going to be with anyone, they will usually partner with an Earth. And that is the silver lining in your situation.