My Partner Has Different Values

Our values are emotional rules that influence our behavior and the decisions we make. Our system of values may include ethnical, cultural and natural norms, moral rules, and our own beliefs what is important, useful, good, bad, etc. These rules are largely predetermined by a variety of factors: our own peculiarities, our parents’ preferences, life experience, etc.

Different or alike?

In the majority of couples, partners get along well since their core values coincide. Differences in beliefs and opinions may easily cause tension and constant stress in a relationship. Due to the fact that values go together with definite expectations, conflicts typically arise on the basis of unfulfilled dreams.

Here are some examples from routine life:    

“How can we go on vacation if our house needs painting?”

“You say you believe in God. Why don’t you go to church with me?”

“In my family, men would usually buy cars.”

“I can’t live realizing that we will have no children.”

Quarrels and discussions (even the hottest ones) caused by such differences are normal and even useful. A collision of values usually lets partners of any age clarify their own priorities, get to know each other better, learn to respect such discrepancies, and make up new common values.

Susanna Phillips, a psychotherapist at Long Island University, suggests that we ask ourselves the following questions.

Things to consider about your relationship

Can there co-exist two systems of values in your relationship? Family life in which partners are able to find time both for painting a house and going on vacation symbolizes a relationship that can combine both partners’ values.     

Aren’t you trying to impose your values on a partner depriving them of the freedom of choice? As for questions concerning religious beliefs, many people guess that if a partner respects them, they won’t force them to do the things they don’t like (go to church, for instance). A lot of people are even proud of the fact that their partners have other beliefs and interests.

If something is very important to your partner, they’ve got used to it, it makes them happy and doesn’t harm you, will you be able to respect that trait of theirs? For instance, your partner likes some special dishes, working in the garden, or laying the table in a specific way. Predominantly, all these elements make your life richer as well, but you fail to notice it.

Is it possible to combine or slightly change your values and expectations taking into consideration your current common life with a partner? He may always be very religious or she may always want to spend holidays not at home. Both partners can come to a compromise taking some values from their parents’ families or national culture and creating a new system of values that will satisfy them both.

Unbearable contradictions

What if your values differ to such an extent that it will be too difficult to find a compromise?     

It may be very hard to realize that your partner’s system of values differs from yours to such an extent that preserving a relationship is impossible. For instance, a woman doesn’t want to have kids while her husband wants. A man wants to be touring with his band all the year round, while his wife isn’t ready for such a long separation and doesn’t want to bring up their kids alone.   

Possible solutions

What should such couples do? The majority of couples want to preserve their personal dreams and goals. Even this desire is a common value that can serve a basis for possible compromises. Some partners are too scared that they won’t manage to reach a compromise. Consequently, they keep constantly postponing any discussion of diverging values and are secretly offended. Hidden offense gradually destroys a relationship. Yet, it should be born in mind that you can’t share with another person things that aren’t verbally expressed. Thus, express everything bothering you and see what can be done about that.

Finally, some couples understand that their values are too incompatible, compromises are impossible to find, and their relationship is doomed. Should they fail to independently cope with this problem, why not ask a professional psychologist for help?

A few of us are marrying a person who has absolutely the same beliefs, opinions, and values. That’s why, from time to time, the majority of married couples find it difficult to reach a balance between each partner’s personal values and their common dreams and goals. But if you are ready to accept your partner as an individual with their own specific traits and build a family life, you’ll have to learn to combine values significant to you both.

Let your partner preserve their individuality

Why is it so important to let your partner be themselves and do things they like and that make them happy? For this, we have to recollect why we’ve fallen in love with a definite person. Without a doubt, we liked our partners since they seemed special to us exactly because of their interests, opinions, beliefs, etc. Thus, why should we force them to get rid of these things now when we seem to be absolutely happy and want to create a family with them?

Moreover, as soon as we stop growing and developing, we get absorbed in the mud of routine. When we were pupils, it seemed to us that after finishing school, we would know everything and things would flow perfectly. Having grown up, we understand that we’ve been wrong. It turns out that learning isn’t the most boring thing.

Thirst for novelty

Perhaps, it’s really cool that we won’t have to pass exams anymore, but we need new information. Experience, world outlook, knowledge should be constantly replenished. Should we feel stagnant, it means that our brain requires some “food.” Try to learn something new, master skills you’ve always wanted to possess, attend specialized courses. If your and your partner’s constant self-development becomes one of your priorities, the routine won’t scare you anymore. Just imagine how many interesting and useful things you may learn from each other later on!   

Last but not least, make joy one of your top mutual priorities. Look for joy even in the simplest things. Don’t be afraid to forget about material things, do the things you like, meet the people you love more often. Remember funny moments and laugh heartily. At least sometimes, let yourself behave not as an adult. Dream and make your dreams come true. Enjoy each other, life in general, and your common life, and you will definitely find common values!

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