Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

Are They Business Partners or Marriage Partners?

Dear Vicki: I need help with my marriage. Dale and I have been married for 27 years and have two married daughters who both live out of state. Sadly, no grandchildren yet despite my hints. Five years ago, in a fit of spontaneity, Dale and I started a business. It has been very stressful trying to grow it to profitability, especially during the past two years. There’s been lots of fighting, arguing, and aloneness, but not much making up. And definitely no fun or laughter. Dale used to tell jokes and laugh all the time, but now he has gone crazy with rules, schedules, and the right way to do everything. He works all the time and it feels like the business is all that matters to him. We don’t even have time to go visit our daughters now that we can, which breaks my heart. I don’t spend time with my close girlfriends anymore, either, but I think they understand. What matters most is my marriage. What can I do to help it? Signed: Missing My Marriage

Dear Missing: Running a family business is a lot like having another child; it can take everything you have to make it successful, especially during the past few years of Covid. My husband and I ran a business together for five years, so I totally understand what you are going through. As you have found, the business can become the primary focus of everything you do, leaving little time to keep up with other relationships. Sadly, this also means there is less time to do what is necessary to help keep a marriage strong.

From your letter, it seems clear that you are a primary Earth personality. As an Earth, strong and lasting connections are of the utmost importance, especially family connections. In truth, family can be everything for the Earth personality, certainly more important than business success. And grandchildren, well, they are very important to the Earth personality, as well. On the other hand, it sounds like Dale is a primary Metal personality. Schedules and rules are the joy of Metal people. And for them, nothing matters as much as doing things the “right” way. And the right way to run a business is to make it successful.

It is typical for an Earth personality to place family over business. And it is just as typical for a Metal personality to place business over family. For Dale, business success will matter as much as, if not more than, marriage and family. It is very common for both Metal and Wood personalities to value business success. But unlike the Wood personality who sees success as a reflection of their value as a person, the Metal personality sees success as an indication that they are wise and understand the ways of the world. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

Another important distinction is that Wood people see the future and believe they have all the time in the world. With that comes the belief that if this business isn’t successful, perhaps the next one will be. Unlike Wood people, Metal people focus on the past, so don’t see a future full of possibilities laid out in front of them. Instead, sitting at the end of the Five Elements cycle as they do, Metal people tend to feel like they are quite literally running out of time. Structuring that time is a way of assuring it is used wisely.

What this means is that Dale may perceive this business as his only chance to prove himself, so will put his all into it. And unlike Earth people, Metal people are just fine being alone. In fact, many Metal people actually prefer being alone. But if they are going to be with anyone, they will usually partner with an Earth person. And that is the biggest silver lining in your situation. You and Dale relate on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model (the big circle in the model below), and it is your Earth that feeds his Metal, so at a very basic level, he needs you and your Earth energy.

To help your marriage, the first thing you have to do is help yourself. Feeling alone is a clear sign that your Earth energy is depleted. And that’s not surprising. Close connections feed Earth, but right now most of your close relationships aren’t in your life anymore. Your husband has become more of a business partner, your children are grown and living off on their own, and you don’t have time for your girlfriends. No wonder your Earth is underfed. You clearly need to focus on building your Earth, but how you do that will be very important. If you just engage in any and all activities you know build Earth energy, that Earth will turn right around and feed Dale’s Metal, which he clearly doesn’t need.

This apparent dilemma can be solved by building your Earth using the element that feeds Earth in the Five Element model, which is Fire (Fire feeds Earth via the Nurturing Cycle). And the added benefit of building your Fire to feed your Earth is that Fire also controls Metal via the Controlling Cycle (the big star in the model). So, by helping yourself, you will also start helping Dale relax some of his overdone Metal tendencies.

Finally, since we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our energetic wiring, building your Fire will also help build some of the Fire that Dale must have had when you guys used to joke around and have fun. Fire loves fun! The fact that Dale’s Metal energy is so strong now indicates his own Fire is depleted enough that it hasn’t been available to control his Metal energy. And because Fire is all about quick connections, Dale’s Fire will burst back into flames when faced with another Fire. And you can be that Fire!

To build your Fire, you just need to bring it to the front. You can do that in many ways, including wearing red whenever you are around Dale. You can bring more red into your joint environment in other ways, too. Perhaps paint a wall of your office red (or burgundy, if pure red seems too bright)? On cooler evenings, if you have a fireplace in your home or office, keep a gentle fire burning in it. You can also burn candles. And purchase an inexpensive oil diffuser and use rosemary or lavender oil (which both balance Fire energy) in it for the home and office. If you and Dale like spicy foods, this would be the perfect time to enjoy them. Spicy food can help build Fire. Wearing garnet or ruby jewelry on your skin 24/7 will also help build your Fire. And finally, the hallmark of Fire is fun, so please plan some fun events for yourself and see if you can cajole Dale into attending several of them with you.

I know you feel depleted, but I think you will find that building your Fire to feed your Earth will help you feel recharged. Then you can use your Fire energy to remind Dale of the fun his Fire used to have before the business took over your lives. Just because an element isn’t expressing in someone doesn’t mean it’s gone. In Dale’s case, his Fire just hasn’t been allowed out to play in a long time. But it’s there, waiting for the opportunity. Building your own Fire will not only feed your depleted Earth, it will also help ignite Dale’s long-forgotten flames. Then your joint Fires can have fun together again while they soften his Metal obsession with structure and schedules and work. I wish you all the best!