Relationship Astrology is a game of MASH: Don’t Forget the 4th House

4th house, astrologer, astrology, horoscope

Weddings used to the be the rite of passage in which adults (or those deemed to be adult enough) left the homes of their parents and entered into home life together. Now, we can all live with whomever we choose for as long as we choose, so the rite has changed and, I think, it has become rather irrelevant as a gross display of wealth most couples don’t really have to spare (or their parents). While I think marriage is still valid, I’m not so sure weddings are. I read somewhere that the bigger the wedding, the more likely the marriage would end in divorce. Hm. A distraction from the real issues? Lack of financial planning?

What we forget is that, if marriage is the goal, then there is a journey that doesn’t end at the wedding. It is to have a home. Too often, astrologers tend to look at the 5th house and the 7th house (and to a lesser extent, the 8th house) to understand relationship dynamics. However, it is the nature of the 4th house, the ruler of the home, the sign, it’s ruler and the conditions related to it and how those interplay between charts and work in composite charts that determine whether or not a couple will stay together, for better or for worse, in harmony.

The 4th house is our origin and our respite. It indicates what our childhood home was like, for better or for worse, and what we view as home and come to expect from it. How do we retire from the world? How do we fortify ourselves and shield ourselves from the elements of change? What safe spaces are there that make us comfortable enough to just be ourselves, what are they like, and what retreats do we create? The 4th house is both home of origin and family of origin. Look to the planets in the 4th house and the ruler of the 4th house by house placement and sign. Then, look at aspects to the house ruler. If a person has a pretty happy 4th house ruler, then this person probably grew up in a place that, to the native, seemed nice and harmonious. If not, well then, they may not have fond memories of the home and living with family as a child. For example, a person who has Libra on the 4th house cusp and Venus in the 11th house conjunct Jupiter probably grew up in a nice, pretty home where no one fought and there were lots of friends over. The parents probably raised the children to believe in and pursue their dreams. But wait…what if Saturn is in the 4th house? This changes the game a little bit. The home was peaceful…or else, and it may have been like a museum, where everything was for show, or neither parent would make a decision about anything. There were friends and associates over, but largely those of the parents, because the home was probably more of a place to make negotiations and contracts rather than a respite.

What this has to do with relationships may not mean as much when flirting or even dating, but once the couple moves in together and creates a family, the fun begins. Every person comes to adulthood with some idea of what home is, what it isn’t, what it should be, what it should have been. The moon has a natural affinity to the 4th house. Since the moon rules both emotional needs and primal fears, we tend to want a home to tend to our emotional needs and to quell our primal fears. Now, if the home was a place to be feared, then the native is going to have a doubly hard time creating a safe space to live in with another person. Often, the frightening behavior in homes is due to one person being given, or taking, too much power to make the home a safe place to be themselves, their shadow selves, away from the world. They are using the home as a respite, but selfishly, demanding all of the power to unleash and unwind and allowing it to no one else. One of the problems in our culture is the idea of the home being a castle, and the idea that the man is the head of the household and therefore is the one who can make it into his own personal paradise or hell as he sees fit. Though the tides are changing a little, there is still domestic violence and child abuse abounding. Our concept of the home as a personal fortress, and not representative of a social unit which is part of a larger whole, exacerbates the problem. However, for those who do not feel free to commit violence at home, there are still issues to work out.

If you analyze the history and expectations of home in the astrological chart, you can get an idea of what a person expects home to be like. Continue on and look at the 5th house to see how the person enjoys the home, if at all, and the 6th, to see how they take care of the home (also, their attitudes and habits toward cleaning and tidiness). Some people are simply not compatible as a couple living together, no matter how much they seem to like each other. Even without looking at the charts, one can tell if an adult is ready to share his or her home with another person. Some people just can’t share and have not learned to share, and were not raised with the idea that they have to share.

To understand how someone shares and their ability to share possessions, look at the 2nd house cusp, the ruling planet, and the conditions of that planet. Look at planets in the house and the nature of those as well. This house not only tells you what material goods a person values and what they value in themselves, but how generous they will be with their things and their talents. A person who has indicators of stinginess (Saturn afflicting Jupiter or Venus, for example, or Saturn afflicting the ruler 2nd house cusp), may have a much harder time sharing material resources. This stems from poverty mind, or the fear that sharing or loaning something out causes scarcity, and there will not be enough for themselves. Since this comes from the origin, it is ingrained behavior from childhood that a person may have to work to overcome.

On the other hand, since the 2nd house also rules cash on hand, a planet that would indicate sharing, like Neptune, also indicates a lack of care in finances. It can be quite problematic indeed to live with someone who blows the rent money on shopping trip, even if she buys something for you, too. However, the home will have lovely artwork (or goofy artwork). These people grow up with the idea that having money is not really within their means or control, and if they have money, don’t really think about tomorrow.

So, when we learn how a person has lived and has dealt with money, we should try to figure out what they expect a home to be like. A person who has Gemini on the 4th house cusp may have grown up in a cluttered, crowded home with a lot of shallow activity and noise. However, this may not be what the person actually wants. What is going on with Mercury? What is it telling us about the home of origin? How do the Sun and Moon relate to Gemini? If the sun or moon is in Sagittarius, for example, this person may have felt rather suffocated in the home and probably wandered away a lot (as Sagittarius does). If in Virgo, the person longed for order, and if in Pisces, longed for quiet.

There is a reason that the ascendant and descendant don’t always make a square to the imum colei (4th house cusp), but when they do, this indicates a person who really needs to get out of the family home and live their own lives in a separate place. It can also indicate a person who may be shooed from the nest. One of the things I’ve noticed among the various charts I have done is that having squares between the ascendant and imum colei and the imum colei and descendant indicate a person who leaves home at a young age or chooses to have a much different home life from the one they grew up in, and having a trine/sextile aspect indicates a person who leaves home later in adulthood or insists very heavily on repeating certain aspects of family life from the family of origin, unquestioned.

Hint: do you know anyone who spanks their kids and says they do it because their parents did it and they ‘turned out fine,’ or some other answer like that? Anyone who insists their wife becomes more like their mother, or that the extended family spends all their holidays together every year, look and see if there is a trine/sextile aspect between the IC and the ASC and DSC.

Now that you know what a person expects the home to be like and how they treat the possessions in the home, you can figure out what they expect from the home. Even the person with Gemini on the 4th house cusp may want peace and quiet (Pisces rising) and a neat and tidy spouse (Virgo descending), but may want the home to be full of books, or a place to indulge in writing, or various activities and hobbies. The home must be conducive to exploring many interests. They may get annoyed that the TV is too loud, but will appreciate being connected to the world. If this person is not in a good place, they could take to hoarding books or media, or distracting themselves with lots of phone calls and guests. If they have Taurus on the cusp of the 2nd house, will furnish the home with fine things and don’t mind paying more for quality, because they will use it until it falls apart. However, they may not readily share things, and may hide their favorite cookies from their partner so they’re not eaten up.

Whatever a person expects the home to be like also indicates what they expect their partner to do. If someone thinks the home is a place for hobbies and mental activities, they are probably not the type of person who wants to come home to finding the partner’s friends sitting on the sofa, drinking beer and watching the game, or finding their office or activity room suddenly converted into a storage place or a temporary animal shelter (my ex did that to me).

If people have conflicting expectations of what the home should be like, or cannot mesh ideas, then the problems begin. Some people are simply not ready to live with other people. Some people will not have an easy time of sharing their space with others. For example, if the ruler of the 4th house is Saturn or Mars, or if the ruler is in the 6th house (indicating an unequal relationship in which one person is to serve the other), one person expects the other to do more, or ends up doing more, or is prone to power struggles in the home, or prone to silently stewing. And Mars ruling the IC (for Scorpio or Aries) doesn’t always indicate a person who is a powerhouse in the home. I’ve seen it in charts of homemakers who don’t do homemaking or do the bare minimum to get by while expending energy elsewhere and expecting their children to leave them alone until they are ready to do something. In charts with the ruler of the 4th house in the 6th, either one partner does everything, or expects the other partner to be servile. Sharing responsibilities for regular maintenance of the home is not on their agenda, and unless they get a partner who demands it with focus and passion, they tend to go into adulthood being a maid or expecting a maid. While this aspect can also indicate a person who is very fastidious about a clean and neat home, I’ve found that it indicates that they like a clean and neat home but only one partner really ends up taking the helm.

Can two people live together? Sure, they may have romance, good sex, and love, but can they share a living space, make a home, and make a home conducive to planning a future together? Check the synastry, but also, do a Davison composite chart and check out that 4th house, the sign on the cusp, and the nature of the ruler of the sign, as well as planets or points in it. Is there an indication that they can make a home together? It is entirely possible for a couple to live like roommates, and many couples let their relationship degrade to that point, but it is not ideal at all. Roommates share resources; couples share life, and the home is the place where life should proliferate, if not literally in fertility but of the mind and heart.

Now, if you want to go further with this, check out the individual 6th houses and see how they deal with cleaning and regular chores as well as food. It can be very difficult for a spartan to live with a hoarder, and for a person who doesn’t want to deal with animal mess to live with someone who keeps a lot of cats (6th house rules pets). You can also look at cleaning styles, which can be difficult things to reconcile for couples. Some people like to hide clutter and call it clean. Some people are more thorough and precise than others. Some people prefer elbow grease to chemicals. You can actually tell these things based on the preponderance of elements and the 6th house. Air sign folks seem to like new-fangled cleaning supplies and formulas. Earth sign folks prefer elbow grease and DYI formulas. Fire sign people like hiding messes and using machines. Water sign people prefer sponges and natural cleansers. Now, take an Earthy person and pair them up with an Air sign person and see how that works when the Air person mixes up floor polish and floor cleaner, shellacks dirt into the floor and the Earth person gets on their hands and knees in the middle of the night with a handbrush in attempt to scrub it all off. But moreover, some people think a neat pile of newspapers is clean, while others think throwing the old papers away is a better idea.

Now, think about food. Eating together is an unquestionable social event. It bonds people. It is sharing. Cooking, shopping, choosing food is important. I think that couples fight about food more than we care to admit. After money, sex, fidelity, the kids, and the bills, we deal with food a lot. Feeding each other is what we do; a husband is not a man but a man who owns livestock. He is a food provider. In non-agrarian cultures, women gathered or grow the bulk of the family food. Traditionally, a man would not be able to get a wife from her father if he had no means to feed her or his children. A woman was not marriage-ready until she had the 6th house skills of cooking, cleaning, mending, and gardening, despite her looks or charms. You can’t eat glamor. Food is ruled by the 6th house, though tastes and desires are from many different factors. Diet and cooking is a 6th house thing. Do the couples want to eat the same types of things, or if not, are open to eating other things? A foodie and home chef cannot live happily with a finnicky eater. A vegan cannot live happily with a meat eater. A person with an interest in food, of any type, cannot live happily with someone with no interest in food. Again, look at the 6th house factors to determine what a person’s relationship with food is like. You may also want to take an inventory of how many planets in earth signs a person has.

For example, I have a chart of a professed Supermom who has only on planet in an earth signs, who has no planets 6th house, mutable signs on the angels, an air or fire sign on the cusp of the 6th and the ruler of it in detriment in the 12th house. This person was a housewife for thirty years and strongly identifies with it, but you would never know it if you went to her house or ate anything she cooked. The moon is in the 4th house in Aries, opposing Neptune in the 10th, indicating that there is illusion, and possibly delusion, about her vocation as a housewife, of which she seems to have little actual interest in other than her pride at having the role. Neptune close to the Midheaven, if not tempered by aspects from realistic planets like Saturn, indicates volunteering but also professional martyrdom and the inability to see yourself publicly the way other people see you, or to project an image very different from what you really feel. In fact, I met her through one of her many volunteer activities. She was complaining that her children, of which she is a apparently a Supermom to, bug her with their daily needs and their audacity for coming down with the flu when she had already volunteered her time for some other activity. Her husband worked so hard at his job and didn’t have time or energy to help out at home, but he would help her by spanking the kids when he got home if she was really upset by them earlier in the day. She had to leave early too, to make sure she got his beer before he got home. He liked to drink himself to sleep on the sofa.

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