Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

Why Does She Fall Out of Love in the Fall?

Dear Vicki: Jim and I started dating 16 months ago. He is a cook and artist (yes, an interesting combination). I’m an admittedly pretty outgoing primary school teacher. Summers with Jim have been a dream; I feel free, funny, and in love with everything. But when school starts, I throw myself into teaching and our relationship takes a 180-degree turn. When that happens, Jim tries even harder to make me happy, but I want to focus on teaching my kids, so feel like pushing him away. In the Fall, I don’t have the time or energy to keep us entertained and really don’t want to owe him for all the wonderful things he does for me while I’m teaching. I know he’s just trying to be nice, so I don’t really understand my intense, angry reaction towards him. Also, Jim is a really great artist, but doesn’t seem to take his career seriously. He always has work, but is so laid back about things that sometimes I want to jump in and manage his career. I do love him and want it to work between us for a long time, but why do I stop loving him every Fall? Signed: Frustrated in the Fall

Dear Frustrated: It is absolutely possible for you to have a long-term relationship with Jim. But you will need to be mindful of your energies and manage them well, so let’s take a quick look at your personalities. As an outgoing and funny person in love with everything, you are probably a primary Fire personality. You know that you love connecting and having fun with people, but your Fire energy doesn’t necessarily need for those connections to last very long. On the other hand, as a cook and artist, Jim is probably a primary Earth personality with a secondary Water energy.

The good news for you is that long-term relationships between Fire and Earth personalities can feel happy and natural for both people. It’s a Nurturing Cycle relationship in the Five Elements model (the big circle in model below) where Fire feeds Earth. In nature, an earthen hearth is the perfect structure to hold and support fire which allows it to burn stable and steady, something that fire doesn’t often do left to its own devices. As a primary Earth personality, Jim can provide this gentle structure for you and your Fiery ways.

One of the reasons you feel so happy and in love during the summer is that summer is your season. During summer everyone has a little more Fire energy as we loosen the structure of work, take vacations, and devote more time to play. Life is fun! The two summers you’ve been with Jim, you have had a ready companion to hold your Fire energy. I suspect you have been able to be more of your Fiery self your two summers with Jim because he has held the space for you. That would make your summers with Jim seem very much like a dream. But summer can’t last forever, and I think part of the problem you’re having in your relationship is the advent of Fall and the energy it brings. Autumn is Metal time; it calls us all to slow down and turn inside. For you as a teacher, it also asks you to get serious about your profession. To do this, I think you allow your secondary personality to influence you more than you know.

I have little doubt that you have a secondary Wood personality, and this can show up more in the Fall. The Fire that kept the Wood part of your personality managed during summer (Fire consumes Wood via the big circle in the model) dims as you move out of summer. This allows your Wood energy to step up more, which is perfect to help you get serious about teaching. However, that means in the Fall more of your Wood personality is available to relate to Jim’s Earth personality. Wood and Earth have a Controlling Cycle relationship (the big star in the model). If Jim ups his “Earthiness” in the Fall to help you when you are so busy, your Wood probably steps up even more to “control” this increase in Earth.

Another factor that might increase your Wood energy in the Fall is the fact that the Metal energy inherent in Fall will feel controlling to your Wood, asking it to slow down when all it really wants to do is ramp up. Some Wood personalities find that their Wood energy actually over-ramps a bit at the beginning of Fall as a reaction to feeling controlled by the Metal energy of the season.

All of this can create a state of excess Wood energy in you during the Fall. This is especially apparent in your impulse to push Jim away when he interferes with your focus on teaching (Wood people don’t like anything interrupting their work), your strong desire to “manage” his business (Wood people don’t like chaos and are excellent managers), your admitted anger and frustration with him when he tries to be nice (the classic Wood energy responses), and not wanting him to do more for you than you can do for him (Wood people love fairness).

So, while you and Jim have a Nurturing Cycle relationship in the summer, it shifts to more of a Controlling Cycle relationship in the Fall. But all is not lost! As we have mentioned in previous posts, Controlling Cycle relationships with Earth are usually less about control and more about balance. In nature, the roots of trees stabilize the earth and in no way diminish it. There is no reason you can’t continue to have a great relationship with Jim during your higher Wood energy phase of the year, but you will need to be aware of this shift in dynamics (from a Nurturing Cycle to a Controlling Cycle relationship) and act accordingly.

As you move into Fall, your challenge is going to be managing your Wood energy. The first step really is awareness, because you can’t fix what you don’t understand. When you feel anger toward Jim, remind yourself that this is a typical Wood response. Use some of the Metal structure the Fall energy provides and take a mental, logical approach to whatever issue has you upset. Rationality sits in the Metal element and is a great aid in calming the overdone Wood energy. Other easy ways to help manage excessive Wood energy is to wear lots of white in the Fall (Metal’s color), listen to music that features wooden flutes, and give yourself a few minutes of quiet time every day where you sit resting your fingertips at the outer corners of your eyes. This posture will definitely help keep Wood energy calm. In the midst of a Wood outbreak, you can use peppermint or lavender essential oils to balance your energy. Or grab a cup of dandelion tea.

In many ways, you and Jim bring excellent energies to your relationship. You have four of the five elements in your primary/secondary mix, which gives you a great degree of flexibility in meeting situations that arises between you. If you bring thought and understanding to your relationship dynamics, and are mindful of your Wood energy, Fall can become a time of beauty and deepening love for you both. Blessings to you!