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Published on March 27, 2020

10 Core Values of a Lasting Relationship

10 Core Values of a Lasting Relationship

Building a successful relationship takes dedication. There are untold life situations that can spring up, and test the strength and unity of your partnership. Having compatible core values will provide you with the necessary strength and camaraderie to be able to navigate through those stumbling blocks together.

Imagine a passenger getting on a train. Now imagine that the train is headed for San Diego, and the passenger wants to go to Sacramento. The passenger is going to be quite disappointed when he realizes that he’s arrived in San Diego, and not at his destination of choice. Both the train and the passenger need to be headed in the same direction for successful travel.

The same holds true for relationships. Similar core beliefs are fundamental for you and your partner in order to feel safe, protected, connected, and comfortable, to name but a few.[1]

So what are relationship values? They are the guiding principles that dictate your behavior; your personal perspective, not only about yourself, but about others and the world. Core values are the underpinnings of how you live your life.

Be sure your relationship values have substance when discussing them with your partner. Here’re 10 important core values for a successful relationship:

1. Trust

This core value stands above all others. It is the foundation of your relationship. Without trust you basically have nothing. According to an article in Strategic Psychology,[2]

“Trust is integral to happy and fulfilling relationships in both our personal and professional lives. We require trust to develop over time to build successful and meaningful partnerships.”

You and your partner need to trust each other with all you have. You need to feel confident that they will have your back, that you’ll have theirs, and that if there are children involved, their welfare comes above all else.

Your beloved and you can have a triumphant relationship. How? Trusting that each of you will always do the best for the greater good of the relationship. If you truly trust your partner, and they you, you are on your way to conquering any hurdle that stands in the way.

If you are working on building trust in a relationship, see this article for advice.

2. Loyalty

This core value is extremely important and goes hand in hand with trust. Being loyal and having a loyal partner assures that both of you are on the same team. According to Relationship Advice: How to Define Loyalty in a Relationship,[3]

Loyalty is dedication; knowing that you’re devoted solely to each other. That all of the choices and decisions you make have been considered with your partner and the impact on your relationship in mind. Your commitment never wavers and your bond is unbreakable.”

If both you and your honey are reliable and true to each other above everyone else, you’re on the right path. If not, it could be a warpath. I once treated a couple in which one of the partners was missing the loyalty “chip.”

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He was loyal, but not to his wife. His family came first and foremost. This did not bode well with his wife, obviously. His parents had to have the last say in their big decisions, and when they directed negative comments at his wife, he did not step up to defend her.

He remained silent and allowed her to take their verbal beating. This is not being loyal to your partner. Loyalty is a key core value for the health and survival of your relationship.

If you are loyal to each other, your love will thrive in the best possible way. And isn’t that the goal of every successful relationship?

Learn more tips about building loyalty in this article: How to Build Loyalty in Your Relationship

3. Religion

This core value is paramount, especially if you are going to raise children together. Religion has a strong place in many people’s lives.

Despite possible difficulties, you might still decide that your partner’s different faith isn’t significant. In her article, Why Religious Compatibility Matters in Relationships, Kelsey Dallas, states,[4]

“Religious differences don’t always spell doom for relationships, but they can lead to arguments and tensions. Religiously mixed couples should be proactive about addressing the role faith will play in their family life, according to experts on religion and romance.”

It may be true that religious differences might not end the relationship, but consider the effects on your children if you happen to have them? How will you raise them? Will you let them make up their own minds when they’re old enough? Or are you going to say, “The children must be raised Christian/Muslim. And that’s final!?”

Even if the couple comes to a similar conclusion, there is also the issue of extended family. If they are intricately involved in their religion—the one you were raised in—they may expect that their grandchildren should be as well, and apply undue pressure to make it happen.

If it’s important to you, make sure you discuss this core value, and that you’re both on the same page. And if you are, you’re adding another building block to your already solid partnership.

4. Family

Your dream growing up may have been to get married, have children, and extended family nearby. That’s always been a core value for you. But what happens if your partner wants no children, and plans to move to Africa to study elephants? You’re not going to get too far. Family is a highly critical value, and one that both of you need to share.

I knew a couple who initially decided they didn’t want to have children. It all went smoothly until the wife decided she wanted to have children, after all. Unfortunately, her husband hadn’t had a change of heart.

A choice had to be made. Did she leave her husband of 12 years to try and meet another guy, fall in love, then have children? Or did she stay with the man she loved, and give up the idea of having a family? She chose the latter, but with painful consequences.

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Decide early on what your values are on family. Do you want to live near your extended family? How often do you want to visit? Do you want to have a family of your own? If so, how many? This core value, if not shared, could mean the end of your relationship.

In his article, Family Values: What are family values and why are they important, Bryan Zitzman, Ph.D, LMFT, writes,[5]

“Ultimately, your family values will be specific to you and your family unit. They represent the ways you want to live your family life, and they may have been passed down through multiple generations throughout the decades. Knowing what a family–both the nuclear family and extended family–values can help solidify bonds among family members. Family values help kids and young men and women make good choices because they have a set of beliefs to help guide them.”

When you both hold this core value near and dear to your hearts, it can be very rewarding, bringing you closer together, and expanding the great thing you already have.

5. Communication

Without a doubt, this core value is crucial to the development and well-being of your relationship. In an article by Saminu Abass, 3 Benefits of Effective Communication, he states,

“Living together as husband and wife (or any romantic partnership) can only work when there is an effective back and forth of information between the couple.”

Communicating with each other will bring you closer; allow you to get to know each other as deeply as you can. If you like to keep things to yourself, believing that no one needs to know your business, not even your partner, and your partner loves to talk about every feeling, then the relationship will more than likely fail.

Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to process situations before talking about them, and your partner wants to talk about them immediately. That’s OK. As long as you both want to keep the lines of communication open, it can still work. You and your honey can decide on a time to talk about the issue/s, and resolve them. The problem arises when there is no talking at all.

Remember to also communicate the good stuff. Communicating with each other is a way to invest in your relationship. Any time you are sharing a piece of yourself and your life, your relationship will benefit, and you’ll be rewarded with increased intimacy.

6. Lifestyle

You like to go hiking every weekend and your mate loves to stay home binging New Amsterdam. Lifestyles are important to every relationship.[6] If you both like to do different things all the time, spending no more than a few minutes a week together, then your relationship is less likely to prosper.

I’m not saying that you have to be glued at the hip, but it’s a good idea to spend fun, quality time with each other. If you’re an outdoorsman, and your partner is a homebody, or you love to go out partying every weekend, and your partner sits in the corner counting the minutes until they can go home, then again, that could create a stumbling block.

As a couple, it’s important you do things together; that for the most part, you enjoy participating in the same activities. But even if you like chasing tornadoes, and your spouse likes taking walks in the park, your relationship can still function totally fine. Just make sure that most of your other core values are on point.

7. Honesty

This core value is critical to every relationship. In an article by Trudy Adams, TBH: 5 Reasons Why Honesty is Important, she writes,[7]

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“Without honesty there is no foundation for a lasting or enjoyable relationship in any context, whether that be with a family member, friend or romantic interest. Honesty is a voice for love that builds trust. Without it, even ‘I love you’ becomes a lie in itself and there’s no real security in the relationship.”

The value of honesty is priceless. When you and your partner are honest with each other; when you both believe that honesty is the only way to carry on your relationship, you are saying that your union is decidedly important to you.

If you and your partner are both genuine with each other, you are elevating your alliance to the highest place. There is no guessing game for either of you; you both know where you stand, and that is the best way to grow together.

Honesty can sometimes feel awkward, especially if what you have to say is difficult, but in the long run, it’s better than concealment, which can cause irreparable damage.

If both you and your partner share this beautiful core value, your chances are good that your relationship will thrive in the best way possible.

8. Self-discipline

You may wonder what self-discipline is doing on this list. Let me explain. Let’s suppose you get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to work out. You are disciplined about your eating habits, maintain a clean home, and delay gratification for future benefits.

You regard self-discipline as a strong virtue. But what if your partner hits the snooze button every morning? What if he doesn’t get out of bed until 9:00 a.m. and then runs out the door with a bag of chips for breakfast? How would you feel? In a case like this, resentment could easily fester.

It’s important to share similar core values in this arena to avoid constant arguments

If you, as the self-disciplined partner, don’t care about your partner’s habits, then it could work, but there’s a strong possibility that if you’re highly self-disciplined, you will expect the same from you mate.

9. Self-improvement

When I was working on my Master’s Degree, we were told that many marriages resulted in divorce during this phase of the program. It was then explained to us that if one partner is on the path of learning and self-improvement, and the other partner remains stagnant, the gap between the couple could widen.

If you are on a continual quest to become the best version of yourself, and your mate doesn’t care to go beyond the knowledge he/she acquired in high school, consider this a cause for alarm.

Whenever you learn something new, it’s natural to want to share it. And who better than with your partner? If they’re not interested, it could lead to disappointment and frustration on your part.

Learn and grow together, and you’ll be on your way to a successful relationship.

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For more on the role of self-improvement in relationships, I suggest a blog post by Mel Robbins, You’re Growing but the People in Your Life Are Not. Here’s What You Can Do. She provides some valuable ideas on how to manage self-improvement and growth with your partner.

10. Finances

In order for your relationship to flourish, you must have similar thoughts and goals about how you manage your finances. If one of your core values is saving money for a rainy day, and your partner’s is to throw it away like it grows on trees, then this is going to create havoc in the most fundamental parts of your partnership.

According to Dave Ramsey, financial infidelity endangers the future of your relationship.[8] If you or your partner are making big financial decisions without consulting the other, then this shows a total disregard for the economy of the relationship, and the relationship itself.

Your core values on finances need to be the same, or frustration is going to plague the saver and the spender. In her article, Keeping Money Secrets From Each other: Financial Infidelity on the Rise, Yoki Noguchi states,[9]

“Marital infidelity is well-known, but financial infidelity might actually be more common. The few academic studies have estimated that as many as 41% of American adults admit to hiding accounts, debts or spending habits from their spouse or partner.”

If you don’t share the same core values on finances, it will more than likely lead to lying on the part of the partner responsible for the financial infidelity. The lying will lead to broken trust and feelings of betrayal. This is significantly difficult to repair.

Make sure that you and your honey have the same core values regarding money. This will fabricate a more solid relationship, and a future where both of you, working together, will determine your financial future, and all that that includes.

Final Thoughts

Core values are deeply held beliefs. Those beliefs dictate how you behave in your life, and with others. Having a significant other who holds those same beliefs is a wonderful complement to the relationship, and the stuff that strong unions are built upon.

Having said that, your core values may change over the course of your life. You may have one set of values when you’re twenty, and then experience situations that alter those values when you’re in your thirties, forties, and beyond. Still, whatever changes occur need to be in sync with your partner’s for your relationship’s success.

If you appreciated learning about core values, be sure to post this article and share some of your relationship’s core values.

Featured photo credit: Davids Kokainis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener How to Be a Better Parent: 11 Things to Remember What Is Attachment Parenting and Does It Work? How to Love Someone in the Way They Need How to Be a Successful And Happy Stay at Home Mom

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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