Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

Can Love Bloom Again, 30 Years Later?

Dear Vicki: My husband and I divorced thirty years ago. We never had children, which was fine with me since I spent almost every hour of the day building my medical practice. I wanted things done the right way, I wanted it to be the best, and that took time. Apparently, it wasn’t fine with Jim because he remarried within a year of our divorce, opened a restaurant, and immediately had two children with his new wife. We both stayed in Albany. Our paths rarely crossed, but in the little spare time I had, I did think of him a lot. Now, thirty years later, he is a widower and manages the restaurant he has owned for decades. I am retired and wonder if there is any chance we might try again. Since I’m not working, I think things could be better. Is that possible? Signed: Alone in Albany

Dear Alone: This is definitely an intriguing question. The Five Elemental Personalities certainly can help us understand each other, and ourselves. They can explain why some connections are harmonious and others discordant. They can even predict what issues might come up when we interact with someone else. But they can’t really explain love. Love is, well, sort of mystical, possibly even a connection of souls. The Five Elements are part of our personality. And that’s where most of us spend most of our time anyway, so let’s take a look at yours and Jim’s elemental personalities and start there.

As a medical doctor who was more interested in her career than having children, who liked having things done the “right” way, and wanted her practice to be the best, I suspect you are a primary Metal personality. Jim, on the other hand, sounds like a primary Earth personality. Family, home, and food matter a great deal to Earth people, as does a stable relationship. In your marriage to Jim, you were probably at crossed purposes a lot of the time.

However, it sounds like you might still love your ex-husband. If that’s the case, there’s no harm in reaching out to see where things might stand for Jim. You don’t mention how long ago his second wife passed, but that might make a difference in the reception you receive from him. Earth people cherish long-term relationships and don’t let go of them easily. He might think it strange that you are contacting him now, or he might welcome a once-close connection from the past. With the Earth personality, it’s hard to know exactly where they might land, so you’ll just have to take your chances. But before you do call Jim, it might be helpful to consider why your marriage to him failed in the first place and if things might really be different a second time around. And to do that, we’re going to enlist the aid of the Five Elements model (shown below).

As a Metal person and an Earth person, you and Jim relate on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model. This is the big circle in the model. Energy flows clockwise through that circle, which means that his Earth feeds energy to your Metal. Technically, this connection should have been a rather perfect set up for both of you. The Earth personality loves to do things for others and the Metal personality loves to have people do things for them as long as they stay out of the way. As an Earth person, Jim probably wanted more connection and togetherness than you did given you were trying to build a medical practice. Metal people approach their careers with laser focus and often make it the top priority in their lives. For Earth people, close relationships are always their top priority. (Food is a close second for them, so it sounds like Jim chose his restaurant career wisely.)

In some ways it’s not surprising that you find yourself thinking of Jim. The Metal personality does tend to focus on the past. That is where they learn the lessons that allow them to bring wisdom forward to the present. I encourage you to review your time with Jim and ponder what worked between the two of you and, more importantly, what did not. When you fought, what was it about? Have you changed enough to address issues you could not adequately address years ago? As a physician, you probably worked long hours which means your Metal energy was likely out of balance back then. Is your life saner now? Do you feel more grounded and balanced?

From Jim’s perspective, you will need to know if he is done mourning his wife. If not, he won’t be emotionally available. And how actively is he involved in the lives of his two children? Does he have grandchildren? Earth people want to spend as much time as possible with close family members, especially grandchildren. You never wanted to be a mother, but are you willing to become a grandmother figure to Jim’s grandchildren? Metal people usually aren’t interested in that kind of thing unless they have Earth as a secondary. And given your decision to focus on helping people via your medical career, it’s possible that you do have a secondary Earth personality that expressed itself through your medical career instead of a family.

Another important point to consider is that Jim is a business owner who probably needs to put as much time into the restaurant as you put into your career. Are you willing to accept his commitment to the restaurant and make it part of your life? Time with Jim thirty years later will be very different – and infinitely more complicated – than it was when you were first together. There is also the possibility that even though you might still be in love with Jim, he may no longer feel that way about you.

There is much to consider here. From a Five Elements perspective, you and Jim should be able to create a nurturing relationship. His Earth focus on close connections and, as seen in the model, the natural flow of energy from Earth to Metal could make it seem like a natural fit for him once again. Your focus on the past will make this comfortable for you, and hopefully your Metal tendency to learn from the past will ensure you don’t repeat previous mistakes.

In the end, as my grandmother used to say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I encourage you to reach out to Jim, express condolences on his loss, and see if he is interested in reconnecting. Then let nature take her course. If there is still that magical spark of love between you, time together should allow it to bloom once again. Blessings to you!