Can She Bring Back the Enthusiasm?

Dear Vicki: I’m writing about my partner Lizzie. We’ve run a small auction business for several years and have done really well. I love seeing what comes in and the challenge of researching its history. I run our office, but Lizzie literally runs the auctions. She is engaging, outgoing, funny, and makes running the events look easy. Or at least she used to. Our auction house burned down several months ago and while I took it philosophically—that’s what insurance is for—Lizzie was devastated. I’ve done everything I can think of to get her to see things the way I do, but nothing I’ve said or done has perked her up. Not even breaking ground for our new building. It’s like she’s really burned out or something and the more I try to help her, the worse she gets. I’m fine doing this alone, but I miss Lizzie’s sunshine. How can I help her get enthusiastic again? Signed, Gloomy in Glendale

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Dear Gloomy: I’m so sorry about the fire. It’s surely a traumatic event for both of you, but based on your primary elemental personalities, it is probably something that will be easier for you to get over than for Lizzie. But there are ways for each of you to heal, so let’s look at your primary elemental personalities and see what we can do.

The fact that you manage the details of the business, love to research the history of the pieces that come in, and have approached the fire in a philosophic fashion makes me suspect that you are a primary Metal personality with a secondary Water personality. The Metal part of your personality will absolutely love the history of the pieces you sell because Metal people tend to appreciate the past. And no elemental personality does details like the Metal personality. However, your philosophic approach to the fire and loss is something we often see in the Water personality. Water people care less about things and more about ideas and meaning. You don’t mention it, but it wouldn’t be out of character for the Water part of your personality to wonder what the meaning was behind the fire or why the fire happened at all.

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Her Female Partner Not Included in Family Plans

Dear Five Faces: My mother recently made an extremely unreasonable request and I am writing for help on how best to deal with it. After a long illness, my father passed away this summer and our small family held a simple, private funeral for him. My fiance, Shelley, attended with me and all was well. Recently, my father’s brother (who lives out of state) has decided to stage an extensive memorial service for my father in January. My uncle is a very conservative person and Mom has asked that Shelley not attend; she’s concerned about flak from his family. Apparently, my parents never mentioned to Dad’s family that I’m gay. How should I handle this? Shelley says she understands and is willing to skip the ceremony for family harmony, but it just isn’t fair. How can I convince my mother that Shelley should be allowed to attend? I’m really angry that Shelley is being snubbed! Signed: Angry Daughter

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Dear Angry Daughter: First, I offer my condolences on the loss of your father. Losing a parent is always difficult. And losing a spouse can be just as difficult, sometimes more so, which means that your mother is probably in a pretty stressed place these days. She may still be reeling from all that needs to be managed when someone passes, so let’s figure out your elemental personalities and see if we can find a way to help you and your family with this issue.

Because you are angry and upset at the unfairness of Shelley not attending the service, I suspect you are a primary Wood personality. Fairness is key to Wood people and anger is where they go when things seem unfair. Shelley’s willingness to skip the service to keep the peace suggests she’s a primary Earth personality. Family harmony is very important to Earth people. Finally, your mother’s insistence on Shelley not attending because of appearances suggest she is probably a primary Metal personality. Appearances matter to them. And even if your mother isn’t normally a primary Metal, with the recent death of her husband she is probably in a Metal place these days. Grief, loss, and letting go all sit in the Metal element of the Five Elements model.

The main elemental dynamic at play here is that you and your mother (as she is now) relate on the Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model, with her Metal energy controlling your Wood energy. Wood people do not like to be controlled, so it’s understandable that you are having serious trouble with your mother’s request. Something else Wood people hate is when things seem out of control, which touches on another dynamic involved in your situation that is probably bothering you, as well.

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Is Her Partner Disconnecting?

Dear Vicki: I just read your excellent post on help for a Metal husband and Fire wife and I wonder if you could comment on the variation I think I have going on. I am a Fire/Earth and use Wood for structure. My partner is Metal, but he is an artist so I think there’s a fair amount of Water in there, too. Anyway, we’re having problems. I drive him nuts with all my home projects and inability to sit still for a whole movie or TV show. He drives me nuts with his laser-focused attention that resents interruption whether working or relaxing. He doesn’t understand why it bothers me when he doesn’t answer a question. He decides if he thinks it needs an answer, and if he doesn’t think so, he is mum. I’ve tried to be patient with him because he recently lost a close friend, but it’s not working. I worry he might be pulling back. When we first got together, I felt our Earths bond strongly, but over time this has become intermittent. When stressed, I am drawn outdoors where I work on significant flower and vegetable gardens and a flock of chickens and a few fish in the pond.  He hates gardening and yard work. Maybe you could suggest another way to bring up his Earth? Signed: Nuts in Nevada

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Dear Nuts in Nevada: This is an excellent question. On the surface, it does seem like the information offered last week to a Fire/Metal couple should fit for you and your partner. However, I believe that there are more differences between the two couples than similarities. First, I suspect that you are really an Earth/Fire, not a primary Fire. My reasoning for this is that when stressed, Fires rarely seek solace outside with gardens, chickens, and fish. Instead, they usually seek events with other people where they can feed their need for excitement and connection. So your question is more about making a relationship work between an Earth/Fire and a Metal/Water. And I can tell you right up front that more Earth energy isn’t going to help, so let’s look at what will.

First, as with most relationships, it’s important to understand the underlying dynamics between you and your partner. In fact, it is more important in your relationship than with many others. As you know, your Earth will feel good to his Metal because Earth feeds Metal on the Nurturing Cycle. Metals expect this from Earths. However, your Earth relates to his secondary Water via the Controlling Cycle (Earth directs Water). More importantly, your secondary Fire relates to his primary Metal on the Controlling Cycle, (Fire melts Metal). That isn’t going to feel good to him at all. But turnabout is fair play, because his secondary Water relates to your secondary Fire via the Controlling Cycle (Water puts out Fire).

The takeaway from all of this is that the only Nurturing Cycle connection in your whole primary/secondary relationship complex is your Earth feeding his Metal. Every other connection you have with him is via the Controlling Cycle. Your Earth controls his Water, your Fire controls his Metal, and his Water controls your Fire.

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Fire Off Balance with Watery Partner

Dear Vicki: I am a Fire/Wood. I recently moved in with my Water/Metal boyfriend and things are not going well. Now that Frank and I live under the same roof, it feels like I’m walking around in a water-soaked blanket and my happy Fire feels shut down. To compensate, my Fire grows and I go into panic and anxiety. Plus, Frank’s Metal can be so sharp and detached that I feel a great deal of anger toward him. He often goes into his deep place of yearning for information and leaves me to take care of “our life” for long periods of time. I am fighting off resentment and doing my best to be compassionate while keeping the reasons we fell in love in the first place in the forefront of my mind, but I am struggling. What can I do to protect my Fire from being extinguished and get along better with this guy I think I love? Signed: Drowning in Seattle

Dear Drowning: First, let me commend you on the excellent job you’ve done assessing your situation. Also, it’s wonderful that you are attempting to be compassion and keep in mind the reasons you fell in love with Frank. At times that may not be easy. Based on your understanding of the elements, I’m sure it’s not lost on you that you and Frank have a relationship based on the Controlling Cycle, with him doing most of the controlling. His primary Water controls your primary Fire, and his secondary Metal controls your secondary Wood. Also, there is absolutely no overlap in any of your elements. Between the two of you, four of the five elements are represented in your primaries and secondaries. That means there isn’t any common ground between you, which that can make you seem like strangers to each other. But in good times, it can feel like you complete each other.

Right now, it sounds like you’re feeling more like strangers. As you suspect, your Fire is an important piece of the puzzle. But the anxiety and panic you feel isn’t coming from a state of too much Fire when it grows to compensate for all the Water around you. Actually, it’s coming from too little Fire based on all the Water around you. Too much Fire makes one scattered and overwhelmed, too little Fire manifests as anxiety and panic. This means that, as you have surmised, you need to grow your Fire. And this brings us to a fascinating aspect of your relationship dynamics with Frank. At an elemental level, he could be the perfect person for you. Let me explain.

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It’s All About Balance for this Rocky Relationship

Dear Vicki: My partner and I have quite a turbulent relationship. He is VERY Wood and can be loud, judgmental, and sure he’s always right. On the other hand, he can be the most generous, kind, and thoughtful person ever. Sometimes, even if he’s in a great mood, he gets quite loud and talks non-stop and can’t seem to calm down. He can be very overwhelming and interrupt a lot, too. I’m sure that as a Fire/Water, I have traits and habits that probably drive him crazy, but life with him can be so overwhelming. It’s especially hard when he’s in one of his judgmental moods because he doesn’t get all the facts before passing judgment. When my Fire is unbalanced, I overreact and this makes things even worse. I’ve learned that approaching him from my Water works much better. Even so, we’ve really been having a hard time lately and have talked about separating. Neither of us wants this, but after 7 years we are both feeling more than a little stressed that we just can’t get it together. Signed: A Frustrated Fire

Dear Frustrated Fire: You have summarized your issues well. On the surface, it seems that the two of you should have a great relationship: His Wood relates to both your Water and Fire on the Nurturing Cycle. This means that your Water feeds his Wood, and his Wood feeds your Fire. It would be interesting to consider your partner’s secondary element to see if there is any Controlling Cycle influence in your relationship. Right now, the only controlling factor is your own Water to Fire. Is it possible that he has a secondary Metal? You don’t mention his occupation, but the fact that you find him very judgmental suggests that Metal might be strong in him. Metals are the final discerners in a cycle; they decide what matters and goes forward to the next cycle, and what is released and left behind. They are the ultimate authority on fact, too, so if your partner has a poor relationship with facts, his Metal (whether secondary or further back) is likely out of balance. His Wood will also bring an impatience for moving forward without full preparation.

If he is a secondary Metal, he would have a Controlling Cycle relationship with himself just as you do – his Metal would control his Wood. His secondary Metal would also add a Controlling Cycle factor to your relationship because your Fire controls his Metal. This means that between the two of you, four of the five elements would be represented in your relationship. Significantly, the one missing is Earth, the element of relationships. And this isn’t as bad as it sounds. If neither of you have a strong Earth, you won’t miss it in the other. However, it does imply that the two of you must be pretty compatible to have stayed together for seven years without a lot of Earth, so let’s see if we can help smooth things out.

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