Reduce Conflict by Considering Your Partners Core Values

Why are our core values important in a marriage or relationship? Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with different core values? 

My own parents had some similar core values and some very different ones. My mom was an artist who valued creativity and beauty while my father was an attorney who valued intellect and logical thinking. They sound very different but I think what kept them together were their shared values of honesty, trust, family and most importantly mutual respect. 

Let me explain what I mean by a core value. These are fundamental beliefs that drive our behavior. These beliefs affect all decisions and the choices that we make. We make our decisions based on what feels right to us and that inner feeling is a core value. Many of these core values are formed in childhood and passed on to us by our parents. 

When I say that I think that the value of mutual respect is what kept my parents together I mean that they treated each other with the same care that they would want for themselves. They listened with kindness and interest and assumed the best giving the benefit of the doubt. 

Here are some examples of core values that might drive your behavior

1. Honesty is always the best policy

2. Family is of fundamental importance

3. Be responsible with your money

4. Religion or spirituality is valued

5. Working hard, no laziness 

6. Being dependable and a person of integrity

These are some things that drive our behavior and when we go against these core values it just doesn’t feel right. I am sure you can see a lot of minefields here if you and your partner do not see eye to eye on these values. Let’s look at examples 1-3: your partner might suggest telling a “white lie”, canceling on a family activity to do something for yourselves or going in to debt to take a vacation. None of these behaviors are horrible in themselves but if it goes against a core value it just doesn’t sit well with you and can cause conflict in a marriage.

I am not saying that all values must be the same, my parents showed me that wasn’t the case, but we need to show respect and consideration of each others core values. Be aware that asking someone to go against their values can cause great anxiety and strife in a person. It is better to come to a compromise that each person can feel comfortable with. This is where the mutual respect is needed. 

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Written by Lisa Strong