Decisions and Intense Feelings

Additional Information on Chapter 4, page 46

A great challenge that Elizabeth and I have encountered in conducting seminars is that so many participants have trouble understanding that logic and emotions are not mutually exclusive qualities. Stated another way, it is quite possible to have intense emotions and still make logical decisions. Another way of saying it would be, it is quite possible to have a relationship in which each partner has powerful emotions for the other.  These intense emotions, however, in no way eliminate the possibility of stepping back from time to time and, with a keen eye and a level head, examining what is going on.

In many walks of life people are encouraged to avoid important decisions when they are experiencing intense emotions. Let’s provide a business example and then explore some other settings where this axiom is applied.

Brad Sugars (as of this writing) is a 38 year old businessman from Australia now living in Las Vegas.  When I attended a seminar conducted by Brad in 2007, he was worth several hundred million dollars and climbing toward billionaire status.  Brad during his relatively brief sojourn on this earth has purchased, built to profitability and sold 42 businesses.  He has also bought and sold hundreds of properties.

During one phase of his presentation Brad declared “Rules are made to be . . .”  Someone from the audience hollers out “broken!”  Brad’s response was surprise and mild irritation. “No,” he says, “rules are made to be followed!” “I have achieved my modest fortune by following the rules, and one of the most important is, never make important decisions when emotionally aroused.  If I see a property that excites me I would never purchase that property until I had coolly and rationally determined whether the property had solid potential to be financially profitable.”

Most people, at one time or another, have experienced the “keen eye and cool head” referred to above.  A method I frequently use in class is to pose the following situations:

First I say, “I want to describe two different scenarios.  After I have described them you tell me which one will yield better results:”

Scenario A: Two of your close friends who are dating come to you to listen and advise them concerning a problem they are experiencing.

Scenario B: You and your romantic partner are experiencing an identical problem as your friends in Scenario A.

Is it easier to work on your friends’ problems, or is it easier to work on your own?

The unanimous answer I have received over the years is: “It is easier to work on the friends’ problem.”

Next, I ask them, “Why is that?”

A composite of the many answers I have received runs something like this: When you are working on your friends’ problem you are calm, rational, listening carefully and trying to gain insight as to how your friends might resolve their issue.  When you work on your own problem you are typically upset, defensive, perhaps sensitive or needy and your discussion is so emotionally fraught that you don’t have a chance of coming to resolution.

That answer is, of course, right on.

So, let’s make an application to important decisions about relationships—particularly romantic relationships where a choice to continue the move toward marriage or to break off the relationship is imminent.

Are partners likely to be emotional when in this type of situation? Absolutely!  They have by this time pretty much experienced the entire array of positive and negative emotions associated with any romantic relationship that encounters the standard array of challenges.  Now if they make a decision about the relationship following a fight how valid is their decision likely to be?  Likewise, if they make a decision following an intensely romantic and wonderful evening, would a decision at that time be any more valid.  It is likely that the emotions of the moment would generate opposite decisions, but both decisions would be flawed.

So, what is the better answer?  First, we would suggest that with the “keen eye and the cool head” that they read through The Compatibility Code and apply the principles presented to issues in their own relationship.  All relationships experience positive and negative emotions, but the urgent questions is, “Are these positive and negative emotions part of the fabric of any relationship, or, do they represent red flags or disqualifiers?

The most frequent issue that couples present to us is, “We’re not clear whether or not this is a serious concern.”

They are certainly asking the right question.  In some instances the book will provide clear answers. In others a session with a counselor might provide better clarity.

However, even with a cool head and a keen eye, your judgment may be flawed.  We all view the world through our own “interpretive filters” and are subject to blind spots—every one of us.  That is why it may be important to consult a counselor or a wise, objective friend who is able to see things you cannot and assist you through them.

In Sum:

  • Don’t make important decisions when emotionally aroused—particularly decisions that have long-term consequences.
  • On relational issues, read The Compatibility Code and make personal application to assess the likelihood of a long-term successful relationship with your partner.
  • Make your choice to marry in the cool absence of emotion.  Once the choice is made be as outrageously creative and romantic in your style of proposal as you like.
  • Recognize your own interpretive filters.  Seek input from a counselor or wise, experienced, objective friends when you’re not sure.
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