Wood Hates New Brother-in-Law, But Is It Her Fault?

Dear Vicki: My younger sister Pam recently married a guy she’s madly in love with who she met at college. Brad’s controlling, opinionated, and frankly, totally boring, which is so the opposite of Pam. She’s funny and outgoing; we used to have such great times together. And now, I really don’t know what she sees in him. Brad’s in law school and for Pam’s sake, I hope he does well. Anyway, the problem I’m having is that at family gatherings, when Brad asks me how work is going (I’m a marketing specialist for a large outdoor gear firm), I feel a need to justify everything: why I have that job, how well the company is doing, when I might get promoted, etc. It’s ridiculous and I really think I’m growing to hate him. Whenever he asks me anything I feel like there’s such judgment behind his question. I’ve mentioned this to my mother and she says I’m over-reacting. I don’t think so because it feels so real. But maybe I am. Is the dynamic between us my fault? If so, what can I do? I don’t want to hurt Pam. Signed: Angry in Alaska

Dear Angry: When we have an immediate negative reaction to someone, it’s rarely anyone’s fault. That kind of thing usually occurs due to energy interactions because there hasn’t been time to get to know the person well enough to dislike them. In your case, you have had time to get to know Brad well enough to have an opinion about him, so there are several reasons you might be having problems with him. As Pam’s older sister, you might not think Brad is good enough for her. You might also be slightly jealous that he has become a priority in her life, leaving less time for you and Pam to share the “great times” you used to have. You might hate lawyers. The possibilities are endless. But I believe there is always an energetic component to our relationships, so let’s take a look at what might be going on between you and Brad.

You don’t mention what the primary elements might be of the people involved, but from what you’ve shared we can make a pretty good guess. Given your occupation and the fact that you are angry about Brad (rather than sad, depressed, etc.), I suspect you’re a Wood. Marketing, sales, promotional activities, etc. require an ability to plan and look toward the future, and the future is the realm of Wood. Also, when stressed or upset, Woods typically go to anger or frustration. So it’s a pretty safe bet that you are a Wood. Pam is probably a Fire. Funny and outgoing is the trademark of most Fires. Also, they can be a bit dramatic, so being “madly in love” would also fit a Fire. And Brad, well, my guess is that he’s a Metal. Law school, probing questions, opinionated, these all fit Metal. And given this mix of characters, it’s easy to see what’s happening.

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Does Unbalanced Fire Bring Out Fire?

Dear Five Faces: I’m having trouble with my new brother-in-law Tom, who is a primary Fire element, and I wonder if the Five Elements can help me understand why. He’s a loud, jokester, frustrating kind of guy who is always “on.” Honestly, I don’t know how my sister stands it. Tom’s never quiet and it’s absolutely exhausting to be around him. I know it’s said we respond to others based on the parts of ourselves that need work, but does this translate to the element types? If we see Fire in another person and don’t like it, does that mean we’re having trouble with our own Fire? Signed: Problem Fire

Dear Problem Fire: This is a great question and there are multiple answers. First, being around someone with an abundance of Fire will affect our own expression of Fire, even if it isn’t our primary element. That’s what often happens at parties: the fun the Fires are having is usually contagious. We all have all five elements, so wherever our own Fire is in our makeup, it usually wakes up a little and wants to have fun. And it usually does have a great deal of fun. However, for people who have trouble expressing their Fire, this can be uncomfortable. So yes, you could be having trouble expressing your own Fire and Tom’s Fire makes that worse. But based on your description of Tom’s behavior, and your reaction to it, I suspect that’s not the real problem here.

It sounds like Tom has too much Fire and that’s what’s impacting you. As the Five Elements model tells us, too much of any element is problematic not only for the whole; each of the other four elements will also be affected. To understand why, let’s use Tom as an example. Too much Fire will drain Water as it reaches across the Controlling Cycle to manage the Fire (Water puts out Fire). Too much Fire will increase Earth by dumping excess energy into it via the Nurturing Cycle (Fire feeds Earth). Too much Fire will deplete Metal by sending too much energy across the Controlling Cycle (Fire melts Metal). And too much Fire will deplete Wood by pulling too much from it via the Nurturing Cycle (Wood feeds Fire).

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