Common Values - For Your Marriage
I say this because in my counseling I repeatedly came across couples who had If one spouse values a simple lifestyle and the other values accumulating. Some people worry that having different values or ideas to their partner – on, say, things can create friction, it's by no means a sign that you can't work as a couple. One thing counselling tries to help people understand is that differences. And generally, this is the advice I would give to. Most relationships where the partners have different values and life goals tend to not work out so well. Your partner and you will have to come to a conclusion, one way or another, that works .
Common values, however, can be a deal breaker. If one spouse values faith and the other resents religion, conflict is inevitable. One partner may really want children and feels marriage would not be complete without a child, while the other is ambivalent or, worse, thinks children would impinge upon their lifestyle.
Good communication can only clarify this difference, not solve it. Likewise, if one spouse believes that career is the top priority and the other puts family first, the argument will be eternal- either by outward criticism and fighting or by going underground with general dissatisfaction or depression. Whether one spouse should stay home with young children is a subcategory of this issue.
Different beliefs about respect for human life and other moral values are deeply rooted. Getting new information and talking through differences usually only lead spouses to realize that they have vastly different life goals and values.
Is it too late? This is fine, you may say, for engaged couples who have not yet made a marriage commitment, but what about us married couples?
Me and my partner have very different values
Can value differences be fixed or changed? The answer is that prevention is always preferable but seldom is a situation hopeless.Relationship Deal Breakers
A lot depends on the severity of differences and whether there are compromises that both spouses can tolerate. Over time they may learn that not everything is black and white.
On the other hand, a spouse who rationalizes away ethical decisions, saying they are unimportant, may, with commitment and effort, develop a more sensitive conscience. Sometimes a couple can agree to disagree on a few values and live their lives in different spheres. For example, one night a week she goes to a prayer group and he plays his favorite sport. Most serious value differences require counseling. Searching my memory, I failed to come up with a single example of someone saying: The best thing is — we share the same core values!
Take Emma, who at 87 has been married for 58 years. Fortunately we had the same values on most things. We came to our decisions by just realizing that we had usually the same goals.
Whether the wife purchases an expensive camera or the husband a new golf club is not the core issue in what can become a monumental fight, but rather the deeper attitude toward what money means, how it should be spent and whether the financial interests of the couple are more important than indulging an individual whim.
Similarity in core values serves as a form of inoculation against fighting and arguing. Keith, 78, told me: We came to the point where we asked: Do we believe the same things in life are important?
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The long-married elders recommend that you discuss this issue and to make sure core values are as similar as possible. A number of the elders offered this tip: Early in the relationship, each of you writes down your basic values or principles in areas like money, children, work, and sex — then share these statements with one another.
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We both had strong commitments in feeling that we owed something back…to the community, not only of resources but of time. We both loved to travel, and we had a sense of adventure.
Very seldom did we disagree about friends. And parenting, of course. We had very similar values in terms of our kids and what we wanted for them.
The wisdom of the elders is very consistent with research findings over the past several decades. Social scientists who study marriage look for two things over the long term: The research findings are quite clear: Sharing core values has also been found to promote marital stability and happiness. So the elders are in the scientific mainstream when they urge you to seek a partner who is similar to you in important ways.
But what should we do with this information? In this advice, we come up against a dilemma. On the one hand, the elders agree that someone who is generally similar in upbringing, general orientation and especially values is the single most important thing in choosing a mate.