Current Events Stress a Relationship

Dear Vicki: I’m having an issue with my husband of three years and hope you can help. Jax is a wise and kind guy who’s really into things being done the “right” way. When he’s stressed, he can get pretty dismissive, but other than that we usually get along really well. Recently, though, we had a significant argument about the upcoming elections. I can’t believe what’s happening in our country and am terribly concerned. Jax just shrugs and tells me not to worry. But so many people are hurting in so many ways, how can I not worry? And how can he be so seemingly indifferent about something so important? Does he even have a heart? What can I do to convince him that he needs to care more? Signed: Worried Wife 

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Dear Worried Wife: Yours is not the first letter I’ve received about current events here in the U.S. This is not a blog about politics, but fortunately for your situation, I think the issue is less about politics and more about understanding each other. I can’t help you with specific election issues, but I can help you understand some of what’s going on between you and Jax. Much of it has to do with the interaction between your elemental personalities, so let’s start there.

Based on the way you describe Jax, I think it’s safe to say he is a primary Metal elemental personality. Doing things the “right” way, an ability to stay detached, and becoming dismissive when stressed are all pretty characteristic of the Metal personality. And you are clearly a primary Earth personality. Caring what happens to people and a tendency to worry are two very dominant characteristics of Earth people. So, what does that mean for your relationship? To answer that, we will look at our ever-popular Five Elements model.

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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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