Our values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live and work. Values determine our priorities. They underpin who we are. Relationships can survive, even thrive, with differences – in interests, in looks, race, religion, etc. But differing values in relationships are much more difficult to handle.
Differing Values And Relationships
I mentioned in an earlier post that José and I been for a marriage preparation course a couple of months before our wedding. The course itself was rather weak in its teaching although there were one or two good speakers. What stood out for us is some of the couples also attending.
We were the oldest couple there, so there was naturally a difference in perspective between us and the others. But some couples gave us cause for concern.
There was one couple who seemed to be living beyond their means. He would come in a very flashy car – from all accounts bought on credit. She told us all about her wedding dress that she was importing and the plans for the wedding. They had one shared value – making sure they presented a good image to the world. I didn’t see them talk much to each other during the programme, and I wonder if starting a marriage with debts is a great idea.
The other couple was from different religions. She was Catholic and he was Hindu. He seemed younger than her. Since this programme is mandatory for those getting married in Church, the guy too had to attend. But it seemed like his sole motive was to make sure the Church gave him permission to have a regular boys’ night out!! He asked every speaker their opinion on him going out on the weekend with his friends. His fiancée was not amused. There was a clear difference in values there. More importantly, this was something they could have sorted out between them.
José and I have different values when it comes to money. He knows how to make it, invest it and use it prudently, whereas I tend to be more careless. We’ve learned to work this out through communication and respect.
Do A Values Audit
The important thing is to see the differences, own them and then work through them. One good exercise to work through the differences is for the couple to do a values audit.
- The couple (separately) draws up a list of things that they each think are important for a mutually satisfying relationship. This will probably include things like love, respect, money, sex, children, extended family, etc.
- Each of them then ranks their list in order of importance.
- Compare the two lists.
This exercise will help you start a conversation about things that matter the to you. The ranking system will help you understand each other’s values better. You can work out whether you share the same values, can work around differences in values or whether at the very worst, there is just no way forward.
Are differing values between your partner and you causing a strain on your relationship. These differences might get even more underlined as we’re all living in stressful times. Have you considered online therapy as an option? Free online therapy can save relationships. Read this article to find out more.