If you are a mature adult who is either in a long-term relationship right now or thinking about committing to a new relationship you should want it to work. Right?
One could even say that you should want it to work all the way to the altar. That is, this partner of yours right now should be a person you’d be prepared to spend the rest of your life with. Right?
If this is true, there’s something very important that you need to consider—something that far too many couples never consider.
It’s the ONE THING that can make or break any relationship.
Your core values.
In other words, you two might have all sorts of things in common:
- You like the same music, TV, movies, books
- You grew up in the same town
- You work in the same field
- You went to the same college
- You have mutual friends
- You “look like a good match”
- You both have the same hobbies
- You both come from similar backgrounds
- You both like sex
- You have great chemistry
But! You’re actually not compatible.
That’s because these things are not values.
These are common interests and hobbies, and they truly have nothing to do with how compatible you two are when we’re talking about the possibility of a long-term, lasting relationship.
Instead of looking to commonalities and shared interests, you need to find out if your core values align.
What Are “Core Values” and Why Are They So Important?
Core values are things like family, religion, and politics. Unlike “sharing a favorite beer” or “both liking football,” core values represent what each of you feel deep down about how you want your life to play out.
Oftentimes, couples (even married couples who have been together for years) never discuss these values. And because of this, breakups and divorces happen that are very disruptive and sad, but totally understandable because of diverging core values.
When you think about it, of course a couple with two completely different religions is going to have trouble down the line. Where will you get married? What holidays will you celebrate? How will your children be raised? What will you do on worship days?
Similarly, a couple that includes one person who definitely wants children and another who never wants children simply can’t work properly unless someone gives in. Maybe the sex is great. Maybe you adore your long conversations and each other’s company.
But how are you going to live your life? Kids? No kids? You’ve got to work it out.
5 Core Values to Consider in Your Relationship
- Marriage and Family
Do you want to get married or have a civil union? Kids? If so, how many? How important is family time? How will your children be raised? What if one of your parents or close relatives needs to move in with you for health reasons?
This is number one for a reason. The values you have around family life will structure your existence, and you two need to be on the same page.
- Faith and Spiritualty
This one can be big or small. It depends on how devoted you are and whether your faiths are actually that different. For example, a faithful Jew and a faithful Muslim will have some serious conflicts in a relationship. But a semi-faithful Protestant and their Catholic-raised but no longer faithful partner might be able to work things out more easily.
- Political Views
Are you a republican or a democrat? What candidates do you support? How do you view certain social issues? Depending on how fervent you are, you may be in the clear even if your views aren’t exactly the same. But often, when one partner supports something that the other partner finds abominable, it creates a rift between the couple that is alienating and can be irreparable.
Money disagreements have caused far too many relationships to end.
First off, who makes the money, and once it’s made, who spends it? What is it spent on? Do you splurge when you want to, or save, save, save all the time? These are all questions you need to discuss.
- Health and Fitness
This is at the bottom because it may not be a big problem for some people. But health problems have been known to cause some breakups and divorces.
This is because a health problem in one partner usually requires the other partner to do much more in the relationship. Naturally, this doesn’t always go over so well—especially when the health problem is self-inflicted (ie. One of you is refusing to follow doctor’s orders or lose weight or stop smoking).
It’s best when both individuals are on the same page as far as taking care of their health and steering clear of addiction.
Can People with Opposing Views and Values Ever Make It Work?
Ok, now onto this more complicated question: Must you share all core values in order for your relationship to work?
The short answer is: No.
The long answer is: Not always, but your relationship is going to be a lot harder if you don’t share these values, and you may be at a higher risk for breaking up or getting a divorce.
In other words, not sharing the values listed above can really get in the way of you two making the best of your relationship. But, if you do share a passion and dedication to each other, anything can potentially work.
You might relate it to a house that is built on a faulty foundation. To make sure the house is strong and stable and a happy dwelling, more work will be required. But that doesn’t mean that the house deserves to be scrapped completely in all cases.
Couples all over the world have managed to create Happily Ever After stories despite partners being from opposing corners of religion, politics, money, etc.
In the end, it’s just important that you take the time to consider these values in your relationship.
And consider them soon. Don’t wait. Don’t commit to the next stage of your relationship and then decide to consider values.
Often times, if you realize soon enough that despite a strong chemistry or common interests, you’re really not compatible where your core values are concerned, you can exit the relationship soon enough so that no real damage is done.
Also, don’t assume your partner or you will change. You probably won’t.
Building a house on a faulty foundation is possible … but wouldn’t you rather have a strong house with a strong foundation to build your life upon?
It all comes down to core values.