What Values Should You Share With A Partner? The Experts Weigh In
I had a partner in college who didn't believe in tipping. Now, I understand the arguments for why, as a system, it could be replaced with higher wages, but I didn't think that was a reason to not tip service workers before they got higher wages. In general, I found him lacking in generosity, and therefore, I didn't feel like our values lined up. It's important to ask yourself: What values should you share with a partner? For example, I had another partner who didn't think Grey's Anatomy was worth watching, and, while I disagreed strongly, I didn't think it mattered that our ideas of how to spend a Thursday night didn't align (and is taste in TV show really a value? I think so, but it might not be universal). Different issues matter to different people, so I sought out some expert advice on figuring out what values you and your partner should share.
Values that deal with how you behave in a relationship are particularly important to share, according to experts. "In a relationship, alignment in values anchor the relationship into a specific direction, setting the couple on the same course in their relationship," sex and intimacy Coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily. "Without alignment around certain values, couples will likely find themselves either giving something up that’s important to them or pressuring their partners to do the same, ultimately becoming resentful that what’s most important to them is not honored." Examples of these alignment values include whether the relationship is monogamous or not, how much the two of you want to see each other's family's, and the value of sex in the relationship. That doesn't mean your relationship definitely won't work out if one of you wants to see their parents (or is able to see their parents) more than the other, for example — it just means you should communicate your needs regarding these issues.
Communication and the role it plays in a relationship can be an important value to share. How you communicate with each other and the importance you place on communication and connection can affect your happiness in the relationship, so it might be useful to share these values. "Spending time together is not an automatic value for all couples," Fehr says. "Some couples value spending a lot of time together and others find their space and time more valuable and want to intersect only during specific times." Again, a relationship can be a happy and healthy one if the two people have different needs regarding alone time, for example, but valuing each other's company and communicating with each other can determine how happy you'll be in a relationship.
Values that don't change the way you feel about your partner don't need to be shared, but respect for each other's values does matter. What do these values look like? "If you value religion and your partner doesn’t, and if there is no desire that you both believe in the same thing, you can happily coexist without sharing the same value," Fehr says. "It also works for couples where one person values having children and had children in a previous relationship, but another person does not desire to bear children." If you choose for yourself to value your own religion or have your own children but you don't care if your partner makes the same choice, then you can be in a happy relationship without sharing values. That said, it might be important to you to find a partner of the same faith tradition or with the same family plans, and that's OK too — it's just a matter of what's important to you. A relationship is composed of two individual people, and you are each entitled to your own values.
If you and your partner don't share every value that's important to you, it doesn't mean the relationship is doomed to fail. You might find that by communicating with them, you can reach a happy medium or at least be satisfied with an understanding of why you have different values. "Talking about it is important," Fehr says. "Start with curiosity and inquire about your partner’s values and priorities: what’s important to them and why, and what expectations do they have about living out these values in the relationship." You may learn that their life experiences have lead them to a different set of values, but they've chosen these values from a place of love and honesty, so you're able to look past them. That doesn't mean you have to change your own values, but understanding why your partner has different values from you can make you more compassionate in the relationship. Of course, if you can't move past value differences with your partner, that's OK, too — you have the right to prioritize your own values.
You get to choose what values are most important to you. That said, you might be happier if you have a partner who sees eye-to-eye with you on the issues that matter (or you might not — it's up to you). You need a partner you can respect, so if your views differ, it has to be on topics that don't cause you to lose respect for your partner. Debate can be healthy for a relationship, but at the end of the day, you deserve a partner whose values match your own on the issues that matter most to you.