Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez

If you are in a committed and non-abusive relationship and would like to feel more connected to your partner, the following exercise may be for you.

As a relationship develops, each party to that relationship contributes and responds to circumstances from their unconscious conditioning. The past has etched that conditioning into unconscious ways of being over time and automatically influences how we interact with and respond to others.

Most couples don’t consciously compare values, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations before committing to a long-term relationship or marriage. Instead, an unconscious selection process takes place as both parties present what they believe to be their most valuable and lovable selves.

Have you ever taken stock of your values? If you aren’t consciously aware of what values drive you – conscious and unconscious – talking about those values with your relationship partner will be difficult.

In any relationship, each individual’s conditioning including their values bump up against or harmonize with the conditioning and values of the other. So, making what has been unconscious conscious can have a positive impact on the relationship. Whether you are in a new relationship or have been together for decades, it’s never too late to talk about what is important to each of you.

This can be challenging. What if your partner doesn’t like what you tell them? What if your partner tells you something you don’t want to hear? What if you disagree?

If the disharmony of clashing values has never been acknowledged, a tension will exist in the relationship. By illuminating conflicting values, that tension can be eased if both parties in the relationship can approach the conversation with curiosity and compassion.

Take the following steps to identify your values and the values of your partner.

Step 1. Ask your partner to do this exercise and to have this conversation.

Step 2. Click this link for a list of 83 common values.  https://motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf

Step 3. Separately, without influencing each other, identify your 10 most important values. It may be tempting to identify the values you believe your partner wants you to have. But if this exercise is going to be helpful, it will require that you identify the values that are actually important to you.

Step 4. After you have completed your top 10, identify the top 10 values you believe your partner lives by.

Step 5. Find at least one hour to meet with your partner to compare, clarify, and discuss how you perceive your own values as well as those of your partner.

After having the conversation, answer the following questions.

1. What did you learn about your partner that you didn’t previously realize?

2. What did you learn about yourself that you didn’t previously recognize?

3. What difference will this conversation make for you?

4. What difference do you want this conversation to make for your relationship?

Sign up for my newsletter to receive my personal development articles

* indicates required