It is important in your marriage that both of you are true to yourselves not only as individuals but also true to yourselves as a married couple. Before you can do that you need to know what the two of you value.
How to Know the Difference Between Values and Ideals
There is a difference between values and ideals.
A value is something you recognize as good and worthwhile and that you choose to have in your life now by being willing to sacrifice other things for it now.
An ideal, on the other hand, is something you recognize as good that you want in your lives sometime in the future, but you are not willing to sacrifice for it now.
Values and ideals are often confused, but the difference between the two is the level of commitment and willingness to give something else up for it. For example, some couples say they value a good marriage, yet they do nothing to make their marriage better. So in reality, for them, a good marriage is an ideal, not a value.
How to Recognize Your Values
The best way to recognize your own values is to analyze two very important aspects of your life.
- The first is finances. How do you spend your money? Where does it go?
- The second is time. How do you spend your time? Are most of your hours at work or school? How much time do you make for one another? How much time is spent on hobbies or recreation?
Prioritize Your Values and Ideals
Sometimes both of you may place a value on the same thing, but the value is different in terms of priorities and importance. Without the two of you talking about this, the differences can lead to conflict. confusion, and disappointment.
For example, a couple is considering relocating to a locale far from family. Although they consider being close to extended family one of their values, one spouse places a higher priority on it than the other because of opportunities for career enhancement rank higher on the list for the other spouse. Being close to family is a value for one and an ideal for the other. In order to deal with this difference in values, this couple will need to honestly appraise whether the decision is going to be good for their relationship or not.
A question to ask yourselves as you discuss your values and ideals is, "Will doing [such and such ...] bring us closer or allow us to grow apart?" Consider having each of you write down your top ten values and compare them. Choose the ones that are on each of your lists and individually prioritize them with the most important at the top of the lists. Compare your lists and see if there are any values that both of you put towards the top. Continue to compare and discuss the top values until you are both in agreement as to what your top three values are.
Remember that a value is an ideal if you don't incorporate the value into most aspects of your lives -- your leisure time, at work, when you are with family and friends, how you spend your time and money, etc.