Heart vs. Head

cheerful1_gwMarch 28, 2007

In deciding whether to leave or stay, do you listen to what your head says, or your heart?

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Both -- You can't live well without either one of them.
Which is telling you what?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:58AM
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You ask an interesting question. I haven't left my spouse at this point, but the option has definitely come up and we are currently trying to resolve our issues in marriage counseling; I don't think I listened solely to my head or my heart, I think I listened a little bit to both. My heart wanted me to try to find happiness somewhere else, my heart also wanted me to keep my family intact. My heart wanted me to make the best decision for both myself and our child, but my heart didn't know what decision that was. My heart is fickle and contradictory and leaves me feeling both confused and helpless.

My head encouraged me to keep trying, so that I would feel like I did the best I could to keep my marrige together. My head told me that I needed help w/trying, help like reading books/forums and seeking counseling. I knew my spouse was a good person and was someone who would be a good life partner if we could overcome the difficulties standing in the way. I knew that marriages should not be easily thrown away when troubles arise.

My heart wanted me to reach out to an old friend I had recently reconnected with, mostly because my heart wanted comfort I wasn't getting from my marriage. My head told me it was a mistake. Although I initially listened to my heart, I believe it could have become an affair if I didn't finally listen to my head. Although it hurt to break off communication w/my friend, my heart didn't break and I feel at peace and I know that I am doing what is right--or at least what is right for me at this point in my life.

I think my head and heart work together to help me decide what to do, even though they sometimes seem conflicted. When I have conflicted feelings, I ponder the issue more deeply. I believe that, eventually, the right resolution will emerge.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:58AM
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Head is saying leave; heart is saying stay.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:20PM
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Sometimes the heart doesn't listen to the head and puts people in dangerous situations (think of those people who stay in abusive situations..they are not listening to the voice of reason in their head that says...HEY, GET OUT). BUT, if the heart is "in the moment" i.e. an affair, when the head says "it's wrong", then hmmmm head is right again.

So, it is not an easy answer.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:25PM
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Intellect gives meaning and perspective to emotions. Without a rational mind, we would all live from tantrum-to-tantrum and ecstasy-to-ecstasy like very young children do. (Actually, it seems to me many adults still do.)

Assuming you're a normal, rational person....go with your head. "Love" isn't enough.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:43PM
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asolo: would you say without a rational mind, we would have chaos?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 1:06PM
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Not sure I'm ready to go global with it.

Only saying emotions -- "heart" if you will -- benefit from rational control and perspective provided by intellect. Saying very young children are essentially emotional beings -- "heart" controlled, if you will. Growth of intellect/rationality allows them to govern their "feelings" -- their "heart"-- as they grow -- part of a process we typically call "maturing". We expect adults to govern their emotions via intellect. When they don't, we say they are "childish" or "immature". Deciding what to do in a particular situation requires intellectual consideration of emotional feelings -- deliberate, rational consideration of what the spontaneous emotions cause us to feel. Without it, people do whatever they "feel" like doing. I know people like that. All of them have "chaotic" lives unless they have a partner to do the job for them.

Probably overstating and I'm obviously no intellectual or teacher but I think you get what I'm saying. I don't know what your specific situation is but if you're considering staying/leaving I have little doubt there's huge emotional component. Suspect it requires a good helping of rationality to make sense of. I wish you well in that endeavor.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:11PM
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A relationship can be good, rewarding and fulfilling -- even if it's only temporary. Or it can lack endurance because it's painful and damaging. Or it can be one of those disappointing relationships that "looks good on paper" but is just missing that critical spark...

If the head is saying leave, that tells me there are fundamental flaws in the relationship that probably doom it to eventual failure. Is it something you two can overcome with effort? Like different backgrounds, religions or life views. Something critical but benign, like different core values -- an area where there's no absolute right or wrong but you can't really compromise without compromising your identity? Or something damaging, like abuse or a predisposition to infidelity? There you're just asking for pain.

If the heart says stay, that tells me there's a powerful attraction on a physical or emotional level that makes it in some way, for now at least, worth staying through the pain.

So the key question for me would be "Is it the good clean pain of a doomed love? Or the damaging, diminishing pain that comes from not being treated well?"

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:12PM
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I am so impressed with all the insightful comments. Its such an interesting topic to toss around.

Close...what a wonderful thoughtful person you are, I wish you all the best in your counselling sessions.

My heart and head are always in battle, and the one thing that has helped me achieve some clarity is meditation. I feel this often leads to clear decision making, where you just "know" its the right decision. I guess I gain faith in myself and my judgement.

Good luck with your decision cheerful.

Have these postings helped you come to a decision ?


    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:41PM
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Right. All wonder and cheerfulness. Faith. Hope. Clarity via meditation. (Yes, I am familiar with meditation.)

Have a nice day.

Yo, cheerful1...use your head.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:49PM
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I haven't decided yet; it's a very hard decision, but I appreciate everyone's insight into this question.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 6:36AM
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I think you may have to figure out WHY your head and heart are saying what they do. For instance:

You might be in a situation where your head says "go" because you know very well that the person you are with is abusive and will, sooner or later, harm you seriously. Or you might be in a situation where your head says "go" because you have been offered a job on the other side of the world and if you take it your career will take off like a shot but it would mean wiping out your partner's career.

In either case your heart may be saying, "but I love my partner". Both cases have to do with self-interest. But I don't think there would be much argument about which is the more completely acceptable choice.

The difficulty comes partly because figuring out the motives of heart and head must be done with the head for the most part. It is difficult to be objective enough to judge your own situation. That's where exercises like writing down all the points "pro" and "con" so that you can see them side by side can sometimes help. Counseling is also an option when you reach a real impasse.

I wish you wisdom and compassion in making your choice.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:49AM
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Popi: I probably could use some meditation right now. Right now I'm leaning toward leaving (I think it's best for both of us so neither one of us is hurting any more). Why does logic have to be so miserable? My heart won't stop pounding, am scared stiff of the confrontation to come.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 1:36PM
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Our confrontation has already started (via e-mail). He wants to leave as well. I've hurt him too much with my behavior. I had a very bad habit of not being able to admit when I made a mistake. It continued over the years (we would have been married 30 years next month). The constant repetition of this finally weared on him. I know I can never be forgiven for this.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 3:02PM
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I live with someone who hates admitting to a mistake.

That is starting to cause me a lot of angst, its very immature, I think.

I would like to know what to say to someone who does that a lot, without causing an argument.

Cheerful, all the best for you, keep talking to the forum, you might find some comfort with that dialogue.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 4:35AM
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Thanks, Popi. I wasn't expecting to get any sympathy. I'm not really a bad person, and I never meant to hurt anyone.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 5:44AM
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