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How Important Are Your Wants And Needs Compared To Your Core Values?

Commercial signWhat do you do when disagreements arise in a relationship? There will be times when it appears you and your partner are at odds.

  • We get along great, but I don’t do well with the step-kids.
  • I am passionate about my field and want to do a Ph.D. in it. A prestigious foreign university offered me a scholarship, but my partner has just been promoted and doesn’t want to move.
  • My partner is a slob; they leave dishes in the sink and clothes all over the bedroom.
  • I can’t stand it when my partner spends without regard to the budget we’ve agreed on.

Some of these desires are material: where you live, what your physical needs are, how important possessions are to you. Others are emotional, to use the term broadly. What is your balance of privacy and connection? What are your expectations of support? What do your religious/spiritual beliefs call for? The difference is between needs and values. Wants and needs are worldly, while values form the basis for how you interact with the world.

These wants and values lie on a spectrum of importance, some being more subject to change and some that rank higher and are less likely to change, and you don’t always have a sense of which are the important ones when you are caught up in a moment of passionate feelings. Social pressures to conform and copy other people can also distort your personal view of what is important to you.

These make it hard to see what you want for yourself. It takes quiet contemplation to do this. It is important because when you act according to your inner sense of what is right, you feel grounded, real, authentic.

The deep core values are what you base your life choices on and they determine how you live your life. They are felt, not thought, and are moral and ethical in nature, arising from your basic spiritual perceptions. These are better expressed in a sentence like “All people are related and I will treat them as family,” rather than a single word like truth or loyalty.

Understanding these deep core values is a vital part of practicing the path to successful relationships. Knowing your fundamental values grounds you in this world and helps you find and maintain relationships with matching values that will create peace in your life.

It is also of great help to your relationships to have a good understanding of your wants and needs.

People often think they go well together because their wants seem to match – “We are great together, we want the same things.” If these similar wants don’t reflect matching values, those wants won’t turn out to be fulfilling, as the values underlying them are actually different.

When your wants differ from those of your partner, it can cause problems, depending on how important they are to each of you. The reaction can range from “I could let that go” to “that offends everything I believe in.” It is not always easy to recognize which are which.

Sometimes it is possible to understand the want or need in terms of a deeper want that underlies it to such an extent that you can alter the specifics of how you can satisfy that want, which can lead to a path of mutual solutions.

Wants can be substituted and satisfied in this way, but values are not so amenable. That is why matching core values is so important. When the values match, the method of their expression can often be quite varied without causing problems. Matching core values underlie the ability to practice acceptance of individuality and the varied way people can express their values.

We are developing a course on our practice, and core values will be the first part of the course. If this is something you are interested in pursuing, please contact us. We are looking for a small group to take part in a pilot program and help us shape this part of the course.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week we wrote that wants and needs are worldly, while values form the basis for how you interact with the world. Here are some people writing about the importance of core values in your life.

11 Core Relationship Values Every Couple Must Have "When we talk about core values, we are referring to the fundamental beliefs that build your identity. They guide our behavior giving us a compass of what is adequate and desirable as opposed to wrong and unacceptable. When we don’t act in accordance with our core beliefs, we feel we are betraying the essence of who we are."

The key for a successful relationship: Aligned values "Aligned values are one the most important things in any relationship. Whether it is with your life partner or business partner, aligned or misaligned values will define the success or failure of a relationship from day one. I like to visualise this as a pyramid, where at the very top you have your values, and below that, you have your life vision, then your objectives, and then at the bottom, your interests."

How to Live Your Core Values "When we think of how our lives are measured, we recall the experiences that felt meaningful to us: a graduation, a birth, a celebration, an achievement. But these experiences alone do not define your core values, says career coach Tara Mohr. It’s the qualities underneath those peak moments that define us."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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