Her Husband Shares Too Much!

Dear VickiI’m writing about a problem I’m having with my husband, Scott. He’s an elementary teacher and a truly loving husband and father. As an attorney, I often work long hours and he is always there to take care of our children, and me. He’s perfect in so many ways, but he does have one trait that concerns me and I’m hoping you can help me understand why he does what he does. When we’re with friends, Scott tends to share aspects of our life at home that I would rather not have shared. It’s nothing incredibly personal, just little things that I feel other people don’t need to know. I’ve mentioned this to him before and he says he’ll change, but he hasn’t. I realize I’m becoming increasingly disturbed by this, so what can I do? Signed, Private in Pennsylvania

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Dear Private in Pennsylvania: This is an interesting issue. On the surface, if Scott is sharing minor details with others, it shouldn’t matter. And it probably wouldn’t matter to many of the element personalities. But it’s no surprise that it matters to you. As an attorney, you are most likely a primary Metal personality, and Metal people really value their privacy. They also tend to compartmentalize aspects of their life – clearly delineating what is public and what is private – to keep them separate. Most of the other elemental personalities don’t see a need to compartmentalize nearly as much, and I think that’s at the root of the issue with your husband.

You say you want to understand Scott, so let’s start there. As an elementary teacher who is devoted to his family, it’s a good bet he is a primary Earth personality. For Earth people, life is all about connecting with others, and it turns out that sharing parts of themselves are easy ways to facilitate this connecting. They are also much less discriminating than some of the other elemental personalities, so are likely to share information in greater detail than others might find comfortable. For the Earth personality, a connection is a connection, no matter how it’s created or where it’s found. When your husband shares information or events from his life, it’s a mechanism for weaving a bridge between himself and others. And this can be such an automatic occurrence, he probably doesn’t ponder the issue of appropriateness before he speaks. So, what can you do?

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He Wants to Move, She Does Not

Dear Vicki: My husband loves working in his firm’s Human Resources department, and they love him. In fact, they have asked him to head the whole department. He’s excited about the promotion (and the hefty raise that goes with it), but I’m not excited at all because it means we have to move to California. We dreamed of moving there when we were first married and started our jobs (I worked as a secretary for 5 years), but now we have two small children (ages 3 and 5 years) and I don’t think it’s fair to disrupt their lives with such a huge move. It also means selling our house and leaving our friends and families. I’ve asked him to be reasonable, but all he says is that this is his chance to move up in the world and he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity. We’ve always seen eye to eye on most things, but not this. How can I convince him that he should stop being so selfish and pushy and just stay put? Signed: Happy Here

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Dear Happy Here: Change is never easy, but it’s easier for some people than others. In the Five Elements model, the Wood elemental personality is the one most likely to embrace forward-moving change, especially if it relates to personal accomplishment. Moving forward is what Wood people are wired to do. The Earth elemental personality is often the least likely elemental personality to embrace change, especially if the change involves relocating. Earth people are wired to care deeply about family, friends, and home, and leaving them behind is often unbearably hard. I suspect that you are an Earth personality and your husband is a Wood personality, so let’s see what we can do to help address the situation.

First, let me say that there is no perfect fix for your dilemma. Wood personalities will always be happiest moving forward and Earth personalities will always be happiest with a settled home life. But I hope that if you can better understand what is going on around this issue, you might be able to work with your husband to make these difficult decisions together. Also, it’s also important to acknowledge that in the Five Elements model, you and your husband relate on the Controlling Cycle with Wood controlling Earth. That means that there will be times when your husband’s enthusiasm for something will seem to threaten the security that matters so deeply to you. That fact that you find him “pushy” on this issue suggests that this is probably one of those times.

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He Can’t Stand Her Clutter

Dear Vicki: My sister recently shared something that has me really upset. After less than a year of marriage, her daughter and new son-in-law are having marital troubles. Betsy is a nurse, Stuart is an architect, and the problem is that Stuart has very little tolerance for clutter around the house. But sweet Betsy excels at creating clutter because she loves her doll collection and has plastic sacks of projects (sewing, knitting, etc.) strewn all over. Really, the few times I’ve visited I have to agree that their house was sort of a cluttered mess. But my sister said that the final straw was when Betsey wallpapered Stuart’s home study with a cheery floral print. Apparently, Stuart not only didn’t like her choice of paper, he was also quite miffed that she left the ladder and brushes in his study. I love my niece, and she seems very happy in this marriage, so how can I help her? Signed, Anxious Auntie

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Dear Anxious Auntie: The issue of “clutter” is an age-old problem that frequently defies definition because one person’s cozy decorating is another’s overwhelming clutter. As individuals, we have fairly ingrained behaviors regarding how we manage our personal space. But when we marry, or even just decide to cohabitate with a group of friends, we suddenly merge two (or more) personal spaces into one. Sometimes that goes smoothly, but usually it’s a humbling lesson in the art of compromise. How many marriages hit the rocks because the cap isn’t on the toothpaste? How many squabbles stem from dishes left in the sink? The short answer is a lot, so let’s see what we can do to prevent Betsey and Stuart from becoming another statistic in the category of failed marriages.

Based on your descriptions, it seems likely that Betsey is a primary Earth personality and Stuart is a primary Metal personality. Nurses are walking examples of the tender caring that Earth people love to shower on others. And Stuart’s skill at architecture speaks to the logic and rationality inherent in Metal people. The good news is that they are in love. The not so good news is that Earth and Metal people will usually clash on what they want in terms of the look and feel of the space they inhabit.

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Husband Doesn’t Understand Her Sadness and Frustration

Dear Vicki: I am writing because I’m currently at a point of overwhelm. For years I had a solid, well paid career in finance, but when it became apparent that I could not juggle work, home, and 5 children (one with complex health needs), I quit work and have been caught in caring ever since. For the past 18 years I have been the one at home who manages everything for the rest of the family. I do think I have a lot of Earth energy, I love my family, yet I feel I have let them down. I do not yet have full time work because I still have an adult son at home who can be demanding of time and attention due to his health issues. I have reached a point of sadness and frustration over this, but when I try to explain my feelings to my husband (who I think is a very Metal personality), he simply has no idea what I’m talking about. He doesn’t understand my sense of guilt over not contributing to the household – he has apparently never felt any guilt in his life – so does not know how to help. I know I can’t change the situation, but do you have any thoughts on how I can change the way I am dealing with it? I would love to find contentment. Signed: A Mom in Crisis

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Dear Mom: Bless you for your willingness to be there for your family, especially the one who needs special attention. You probably do have a primary Earth personality; the desire to have a large family usually indicates an Earth personality, as does the fact that you made it a priority to stay home with your family rather than keep your job. However, that you had a career in finance for many years suggests that you probably have a good amount of Metal energy in the mix, too. You are correct that you likely can’t change the basics of your situation, but you can certainly change not only how you are dealing with it, but also how much help you have in dealing with it. There are many ways to do this, but first let’s look at what might be going on for you to create the sadness and frustration.

When Earth people are faced with a crisis at home, they usually do whatever it takes to make sure everyone and everything is managed as well as possible. The fact that you have some Metal energy in your mix will help drive a desire to do things not only the “right” way, but the best way possible. That’s because Metal people not only strive for perfection, they also honor the wisdom of the past, a wisdom that tells them what is “right” and what is “wrong.” This sense of what is right added to your Earth need to raise your children well is probably why you couldn’t manage a large family and a full-time job and do both perfectly. Not surprisingly, your Earth personality’s desire to do the best for your family won out.

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Finding True Love

Dear Readers,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In the spirit of the day, I am reposting a letter from last year that really sums up how useful knowledge of the Five Elements can be when looking for true and lasting love. Enjoy!

Vicki

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Dear Vicki: I want to be married and in love, but I’ve been divorced three times. Even though I was so sure I’d found true love with each guy, the relationships didn’t last. My first husband and I married young – we were only 19 – but we were in love and wanted the same thing: a home and family. Or so I thought. He left me for his flashy young secretary who was a better fit as he climbed the corporate ladder. Husband #2, a college professor, left to accept a fellowship to study primitive tribes in Africa. And Husband #3 is an artist who found his muse in the woman who runs a local gallery. They live together in a loft now. I honestly thought each of these men was my true love, a person I could grow old with. But now, at 37, I’m wondering how to find the right guy. All I want is a happy home and family. Signed: Unmarried in Marengo

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Dear Unmarried: It sounds like you’ve had quite an experience relating to different kinds of guys. I’m so sorry your marriages haven’t worked out, but I do think there is a Five Elements explanation as to why. Let’s take a look at your primary elemental personality and the personalities of your three husbands to see what we can learn so that marriage #4, whenever it happens, is a wild success.

Based on your overwhelming desire for a happy home and family, I think it’s safe to say that you are a primary Earth personality. Home and family are very high on their list of priorities. The resiliency you’ve shown and hope you continue to hold out for a lasting marriage suggests that you might have Water as your secondary personality. Bless you on staying positive. But be mindful to keep yourself balanced because too much Earth (desire for a relationship) and Water (trust that everything will be perfect) together can create a lot of mud, which usually lacks clarity and focus. And these are important to have when entering into a relationship. Information about the person and their personality tendencies is important, too, but selecting a life partner isn’t as simple as finding a “positive” elemental match.

The Five Elements model shows us that all of the elements can get along well with each other if they try. This means you can “pick” whomever you fall in love with, but then make sure you take the time to determine their elemental personality so you can understand what their priorities will be in life and relationship. I also suggest that you help them understand what your priorities are as an Earth personality. Too often we tend to trust “love” as being all we need. And while it’s extremely important, I also believe that we need understanding and acceptance if any relationship is to go the distance. So in the name of that understanding, let’s take a look at what might have unfolded at an elemental level in each of your previous marriages.

Based on your letter, it appears that you have been married to a Wood person, a Metal person, and a Water person, in that order. Technically, your first marriage had every chance of working. Even though Earth and Wood relate on the Controlling Cycle, an Earth wife and Wood husband recreate what was considered the “perfect” marriage in the 1950s. The Wood person’s desire for success and accomplishment provided the financial means to support the Earth person’s desire for a home and family. There’s no way to know exactly why your first marriage failed, but perhaps your husband’s secondary personality got in the way. He clearly didn’t have a secondary Earth personality or the two of you would probably still be together. Instead, his desire to climb the corporate ladder and have someone a bit flashier at his side suggests that Fire might have been his secondary. If so, your secondary Water personality would have been problematic for his secondary Fire (Water controls Fire); there were probably times he felt like you rained on his parade. But Earth people value loyalty and he clearly was not able to give you that, so the bottom line is that it wasn’t a good match.

Your second husband was probably a Metal person given his desire to move halfway around the planet all alone to study a chosen topic. Metal people tend to be loners who will go the distance (sometimes literally) in search of knowledge. And even though the two of you related on the Nurturing Cycle (Earth feeds Metal), it was your energy feeding him. I wonder if there were times you felt he drained you. That can sometimes happen with an Earth/Metal relationship since Earth people want to give and Metal people often feel they deserve the attention. It’s unlikely that Husband #2 had Earth as a secondary personality either since it wasn’t difficult for him to leave the relationship for his chosen work in Africa. Instead, I suspect he had Water as a secondary, another loner element. But more importantly, Earth and Water relate on the Controlling Cycle, so even though Earth’s version of control is very gentle, it can still feel “containing” to Water, which wants to go with the flow no matter where the flow goes.

Interestingly, your third husband was also probably a primary Water personality; creativity and imagination sit in the Water element. Your Earth personality could have felt supportive and stabilizing to him, but it also might have felt slightly controlling, especially if your Earth was out of balance. It’s likely you desperately wanted this third marriage to work, so could have tried harder to please him than necessary, or wise. Too much Earth energy usually feels cloying and restrictive to Water people. Also, artists often find their “muse” in someone radically different from them. In this case, I suspect his muse was a Fire person, the yang to his yin, the light to his dark. This opposing energy could hold them together, or they might tire of the differences and separate. But if this happens, please don’t go back with him; he has clearly proven he is not the right person for you.

Instead, try to hang around people who are Earth or Fire personalities. Another Earth person will value home and family as much as you do. In fact, two Earth people together usually live for home and family. But they need to be careful to stay balanced and not give everything to the other person or they risk falling into co-dependency. However, should you fall in love with an Earth, if you stay balanced and present with each other, you will probably feel like you have finally found heaven.

Fire is another element that could work well for you. Fire people like connections just as much as Earth people do, and since Fire feeds Earth on the Nurturing Cycle, you will feel seen and appreciated in an Earth/Fire connection. You will also have a great deal of fun. That said, most Fire people don’t value long term connections as much as Earth people do, nor do they like to stay home as much as Earth people tend to. But if you are up for having parties at home and going out a lot, you could find a relationship with a Fire person to be enjoyable and satisfying. Especially if that Fire has Earth as a secondary.

The truth is that you will probably find lasting happiness in a relationship with anyone who has Earth as a primary or strong secondary personality. To meet Earth people, get out and do the things you enjoy because other Earth people will enjoy them, too! You might try a series of cooking classes or perhaps a course on home decorating. If you aren’t doing this already, I encourage you to volunteer for causes that matter to you because many of the people there will also have Earth personalities. And let your friends know you’re interested in dating teachers, people in the healthcare field, and social workers. These are all areas often filled by Earth personalities. Most importantly, give it time and be yourself. Your Earth personality will attract someone who values what you value, I promise. I wish you all the best and may cupid find you soon!

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