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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Her Husband is Ignoring Her

Dear Vicki: I’m married to a workaholic! Jason goes to work early, stays late, takes calls on weekends, and is forever checking his cell phone. We’ve been married for 10 years and during that time he’s done well in his law firm. But now he’s obsessed with becoming a partner, so all he cares about are his numbers, referrals, and keeping a high profile. When I mention quitting my secretarial job to start a family, which he knows matters a lot to me, he says it just isn’t the right time for him yet. That may be, but this isn’t just about him. My biological clock is ticking and I’m worried I’m running out of time. This whole thing is exhausting. What can I do to get back the loving and attentive Jason I married before he went to law school? Signed: Alone in LA

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Dear Alone: The short answer to your question is that you will probably never “get back” the Jason you knew in college. Time takes us forward into new experiences and these experiences change our views, priorities, and goals. Hopefully, your relationship with Jason is strong enough to morph with these shifts. It’s likely you knew Jason wanted a career in law before you married him, but perhaps you were unaware of what that might entail. And even if you were, the reality of life with an attorney may not be all you’d hoped. So let’s see if there are ways we can help you adjust, adapt, and possibly even feel better.

The fact that Jason is an attorney suggests that he is probably a primary Metal personality. Metal people are excellent with detail, hierarchy, and protocol, all of which are very important in the practice of law. However, his strong drive (even need) to make partner in his firm suggests that he also has a lot of Wood energy in his personality. The self-esteem so important for most Wood people usually comes from doing a brilliant job and succeeding. And within the structure of a law firm, the young attorneys who bill the most hours – meaning they work the most hours – usually get the best reviews and the promotions. Jason is being true to his combination of Metal and Wood personalities: he is playing by the rules of the game to get ahead.

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He’s Giving Her the Cold Shoulder

Dear VickiI started dating a guy last spring and we connected immediately. Jack is a super outgoing guy who does voice over work and is lots of fun to be around. We laughed and had tons of fun all summer. It was perfect and seemed to get better and better, so I thought he might be the one. But as winter rolled in, it seems like he’s drifting away. We did a few things around the holidays, but now he says he’s really busy and will call later, but he never does. I’m really busy too – I’ve just started a career as a nurse – but I still have time to reach out to him. When I do, he says he’ll get back to me, but nothing. It’s rude of him, I know, but I really loved being with him. What did I do that drove him away, and what if he never comes back? Signed, Nervous in New York

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Dear Nervous in New York: I am so sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation. It’s never easy to be in a relationship that is changing in a way that you don’t want, so let’s take a look at what might be going on between you and Jack. As a nurse, it seems very likely that you are a primary Earth personality. The caring and desire to do for others that nurses embody is characteristic of the Earth personality. As for Jack, the intensity with which you connected last spring, as well as his occupation as a voice over actor, suggest that he is probably a primary Fire personality. Intensity, especially around relationships, is not uncommon with Fire people, and most forms of acting usually come naturally to them.

In the Five Elements model, Fire and Earth relate on what is called the Nurturing Cycle, with Fire feeding Earth. That would explain why the relationship felt so good to you. It probably even felt natural to Jack for a time. In nature, an earthen hearth is a very comfortable container for Fire’s energy, at least in the beginning. So what’s going on now?

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She’s Dreading the Winter Solstice

Dear Vicki: The Winter Solstice is approaching and that means the start of winter. I hate it. The dark and cold always make me very unhappy, but my sister (a writer) loves December: The darker and colder, the better for her. I think she’s crazy, but how can we be so different when we’re just one year apart? Could this have something to do with our elements? I don’t even know what element I am, I just know that I hate winter. Can you help me understand why? Signed: Hates the Cold and Dark

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Dear Hates the Cold and Dark: Winter Solstice does indeed herald the start of winter in the northern hemisphere; December, January and February are usually the coldest months here. But within the Five Elements model, the Winter Solstice represents a pause in the year-long journey from longest day to longest night, then back again. December 21 is the shortest day of the year, thus the longest night. Beginning the next day, the nights shorten and the days lengthen. So if you hate the dark, Winter Solstice is actually good news for you because beginning December 22, the days get longer. But the cold? Well, that is around for several more months.

To answer your question, how we respond to a time of year absolutely can have to do with our elemental personality, especially since (as was mentioned in last week’s post), each elemental personality has a seasonal affiliation. On the surface of things, it seems logical that each personality would resonate with their own season – and that can be true – but it isn’t always so straightforward. If someone’s primary element is unbalanced in their personality, they may not do well with their own season, so could really need what another season has to offer. Let’s look at how this might work and perhaps you will recognize yourself in one of these elemental personality descriptions.

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Help! She Hates Thanksgiving!

Dear Vicki: Thanksgiving is less than one month away and I’m dreading it. I hate Thanksgiving. It’s so much work! I remember my mother used to cook for days to be ready for Thanksgiving dinner. And then it took hours to clean up after it. She never complained, but it must have bothered her when Dad and my brothers went off to watch football while my sister and I helped Mom clean the kitchen. My girls are teenagers now and while I’ve made the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal all of their lives, and they have helped me, I’ve dreamed about doing things differently. I want to honor the idea of being grateful – that’s the most important part – and I want my family to have a wonderful holiday, but when I suggest changing it up a little in the food department to make things easier, my husband refuses to break with tradition. Secretly, I’d like to boycott the whole holiday this year, but then I feel guilty. Am I a horrible mom? Signed: Hates Turkey

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Dear Hates Turkey: The short answer is that, no, you are not a horrible mom. Actually, you seem like a pretty honest mom to me. You care about your family and want to do well for them, but you also want to make it easier for you and your girls. That is very reasonable and actually very loving. The fact that you really want to make a good Thanksgiving holiday for your family but are feeling guilty that you might not be doing enough for your family suggests that you probably have a good amount of Earth energy in your personality. Earths care about making and keeping people happy. They want to do the best they can for their friends and family. But a balanced Earth will also know when and where to draw the line so they don’t become a squishy doormat. Congratulations on knowing when to raise your hand and ask for change!

And then there is your husband. People who value traditions and want to stick with them usually have a Metal personality. As we have said here many times, Metal people focus on the past. From that perspective, they determine what has worked before, what has not, and what should be carried forward. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” is a common Metal anthem. This sounds like your husband, right? The Thanksgiving traditions have worked for him, so why change them?

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