Why Core Values are Important for a Successful Relationship

Center of a flowerWe frequently mention core values in our writings without giving much explanation, so let’s discuss what they are, why they’re important and how they serve as the foundation for a good relationship.

Whether you have been aware of yours or not, they underlie all your behavior. They are core because they give meaning and value to your life. They are the principles you live by. These are not intellectual constructs, but rather deeply felt truths that arise from your inner being.

They are your understanding of how relations in the world should be, and exist as feelings about the world. They manifest by how they are shown in action, and are felt rather than thought out. Finding the words for them comes afterwards. Many of us are not fully aware of what ours are.

Ensuring that core values match is an important part of establishing a new relationship. It’s not what a person says, but what they do, and it takes time and a few stressful situations to reveal a true character. Our vision is also clouded by the heady rush of a new relationship. If your partner has different values, you are going to clash repeatedly over how you treat each other, as well as how you act in the world.

How do they apply to your relationships? Whether you are developing one, or have been in one a longer time, they are the foundations on which relationships are built. Some people are not concerned with how their partners act in the world, as long as their values match in how they treat each other. Either way, for a relationship to be successful, there must be a place of matching. Whatever works!

It can be very illuminating to sit down and write out what your true values are, as well as looking at each other’s. We decided to do just that. Here are each of ours:

MAUDE: The principles I live by are
1. We are all related literally; brothers and sisters with the same spiritual parents.
2. We are all in this together.
As a result, my underlying rule of conduct is to act with love at all times and to grow in an understanding of how to do this. This leads to my core values: love, peace, service, fairness, kindness, truth, honesty, trust, honor, respect, loyalty, acceptance, goodness, acknowledgment, and goodwill.

PHIL: Before starting this, I thought my answer would be fairness, which is one of the five moral foundations identified by Jonathan Haidt (though I want to add that I don’t agree with his conclusions.) But I wanted to explore further, so I searched for a list of core values and chose the top result, giving me a list of 200 items. I checked the ones that spoke to me and came up with honesty, respect, fairness, trust, empathy, kindness, community, truth, and openness. (As an aside, openness to experience is one of the Big Five Personality Traits, so I took an online test which put me at the 80th percentile on that measure.)

Matching core values are an important part of a relationship. #relationships #quote #marriage Click To TweetYou will notice that we both had very different methods of arriving at our lists, and yet the lists are strikingly similar. When you see that your same core values are being expressed by your partner, but in an entirely different way, it is a grand opportunity to learn. Vive la difference! We both chose fairness, which is a primary liberal value in Jonathan Haidt’s five moral foundations. For conservatives, authority and loyalty rank highest, so there may be other relationships where the core values are mutual support or an agreed hierarchy.

Have a look at your lists together. If they are not really matching, ask yourselves if they are complementary or truly at odds? The answer to this question will give you critical information about the possibilities for your relationship, and then you can make informed decisions.

When your partner holds the same values as you, nothing they do can truly offend. Using that, you can accept everything else as a manifestation of their personality, and if it bugs you when it doesn’t clash with your basic values, that’s for you to work out why.

Knowing yourself always precedes being able to know another. Sit with your own core values, learn about them. It will create greater depth to every relationship you have!

2 comments on “Why Core Values are Important for a Successful Relationship
  1. Carol Barringer says:

    Thank you for this important blog post. I learned a lot about myself by trying to name my core values and the beliefs that go with them. Really productive journaling came out of this, identifying some important issues to address into the future. Thank you.

  2. Maude says:

    Kathy Jean Schultz posted: A really good and provocative post. One of my core values is fairness, which I found out the hard way is part of my core, and has brought lots of challenges in a world that often isn’t fair.

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