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Given the fact that you and your partner fell in love in the first place, there's a good chance you two already share at least some of the same values. However, if you intend to spend the rest of your lives together, it's important to make sure that those values include the ones that will carry you through a happy and healthy marriage. "Having shared values in a relationship is very important because our values indicate what matters most to us, meaning we have strong emotional reactions to those things," says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., a psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out. "Having similar values can make things run more smoothly because you are both basically on the same page about what you are co-creating." Here are some of the most important values experts say you and your partner should be aligned on.


Your ability to trust your partner and your partner's ability to trust you is the foundation upon which you'll build the framework for your entire relationship, according to Dr. Sherman. "Trust creates a safe space to rely on each other and is what will keep your relationship strong through good times and bad," she says. If trust isn't there, couples counseling may be your best bet to work on figuring out where the mistrust is stemming from and how to work through the issues leading to it.


We all get busy now and then, but you and your partner should be on the same page when it comes to how much time you designate to each other on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. "A lot of couples make the mistake of thinking they can just get their time back 'when things settle down,' but the reality is that your lives are only going to get busier and busier as the years go on," says Laura F. Dabney, M.D., a relationship psychiatrist. "Setting aside quality time together allows you the space and time you need to talk about things that are under the radar so they don't bubble up and explode later."


There's a reason this is the most fought about topic in a marriage—it's a touchy subject! While you're bound to have some disagreements over the finances, it helps to be somewhat in agreement of the overall way you spend and save. Dr. Sherman urges couples to set aside time to discuss how they can successfully coexist when it comes to spending. "Sometimes both pay bills and save together and have discretionary income if their own to spend as they wish," she says. "Whatever works for you is fine, but having a plan will help prevent issues from arising."

Work Ethic

If you've been with your partner for several years, you may already have a good feel for his or her work ethic, but if not, it's important to make sure your priorities align. "It can cause problems when two people view work as very different priorities," says Dr. Sherman. "When both people value working a lot they understand each other and can support one another's goals, but when their values are very different they need to compromise in some way."

Family Planning

If you and your partner plan to spend the rest of your lives together, a conversation about your family plans is a must. This involves if and when you plan to have children, how many you'd like to have and how you plan on raising these children. "So many couples have kids and then are shocked to realize their spouses are on a different page with how to parent!" says Dr. Dabney. "Talking about how you were raised and what is and is not acceptable to you with your partner or spouse is a wonderful first step in getting aligned on parenting values."

Extended Family Involvement

How much time and effort you put into your relatives is a very important value on which to align, according to Dr. Dabney. Otherwise, she warns, one or both of you may feel irritable, exhausted or guilty about having to "choose" between your spouse and other family members. "Questions such as how do you see your parents fitting into our lives once we're married or once we have children is an excellent start," she says. "It's also worth addressing topics such as gift giving, loaning funds, as well as who you spend major holidays with."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
January 7, 2021
These are very good points, however two big areas that are very important to discuss are religious training for children a couple might have, or religious beliefs in general, as well as political ideology. Liberal ideology is very different from conservative values and over time can be difficult for couples to resolve; many choose not to discuss politics at all because of this, but that leaves a big empty space if that area is important to you later on. I have counseled couples that never discussed these topics until children came along, or they wanted their spouse to attend church with them and they each assumed the other was on the same page. Compromises can be worked out, but it takes work, and if you are compatible to begin with in these areas, it is so much easier. That is why courtship is so important, as these issues should be discussed during that time. I once dated a guy for over a year before I realized he never wanted children; thankfully I could move on.