Shared Values in a Relationship: Core Beliefs for Couples

Being in a Relationship

By: Andrijana Ikonic

When it comes to loving couples who simply belong together, you’ll usually notice something more profound than just their affection for one another. While they might say their secret is that they “just get each other,” the truth actually lies in the shared values that make them work so well together.

Relationship values represent core principles and beliefs that shape how people interact and support each other. They are the glue that holds the relationship together, providing a solid basis for love and happiness.

As individuals change, so do their values, but it’s all about maintaining a shared understanding within a relationship for long-term compatibility and satisfaction.

In this guide, we’ll explore relationship values and help you build a love that lasts. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways:

  • Shared values are foundational for a lasting relationship. These values serve as the glue that binds couples together and keeps them strong through thick and thin.
  • Some of the core values in successful relationships are trust, honesty, respect, and effective communication.
  • Recognizing differences and similarities in values early can help navigate potential conflicts. Addressing them with respect and understanding is key to maintaining harmony in a relationship.
  • Every relationship is unique. It’s vital that you use your shared values to build a strong foundation so that you can confidently navigate life’s challenges together.

What Is a Value-Based Relationship?

A value-based relationship is the jackpot of all relationships. Both partners prioritize and align their actions with shared core values, like trust, respect, honesty, and commitment.

It’s not just saying, “Yes, I trust you and respect your personal space.” It’s actually trusting your partner even when things get challenging, which requires a good deal of vulnerability. 

But in a true value-based relationship, your partner gives you that same investment and commitment in return. You both have the freedom to grow individually while still nurturing the connection between you.

Given that a value-based relationship provides an ideal environment for both partners to thrive, you can imagine how challenges can arise in its absence.

Ross and Rachel’s roller coaster relationship really taught us that trust and commitment are essential for overcoming misunderstandings and challenges. (If you ask me, no, they were not on a break.)

When there are no clear, mutually agreed-upon values, misunderstandings are more likely to crop up. You might start second-guessing each other’s intentions or doubting motives, which can lead to conflict and overall dissatisfaction with the relationship.

If you want to set the stage for a loving and fulfilling relationship, make sure you share core values from the start.

Relationship Values: The Basics 

In a relationship, it’s not always about agreeing on everything. What truly matters is understanding and prioritizing what you value most in life and in each other.

Here are some critical core values that can help you create a solid and long-lasting bond with your partner.

Trust and honesty

A study of how 33 African-American girls judge healthy relationships found that honesty was among the most important values in a relationship. One participant, a 17-year-old, said, “If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, then there is no relationship.”[1]

I couldn’t agree more!

There’s a good reason honesty is considered a fundamental value in a relationship. 

When you trust your partner, and they trust you, you can be yourself. There’s no fear of getting betrayed, being judged, or taken for granted. 

You trust that they won’t hurt you.

You give them your heart and trust them that they will keep it safe. 

It’s the ultimate proof of love. 

Of course, it goes both ways. You’re honest with your partner, and you give them your trust too.

When you’ve got that kind of trust and honesty, my friend, you’ve got a relationship that’s built to last.

On the other hand, a lack of trust can create cracks in a relationship that widen over time. If not addressed, these cracks can lead to insecurity, jealousy, and a breakdown in communication.

It’s very hard to make a relationship work when there’s no trust.

According to research published in Social and Personality Psychology, trust is perhaps the most crucial factor in building and sustaining happy, healthy relationships. 

Authors Arikewuyo et al. explain that “lack of trust has also been associated with low emotional, physical, and other forms of sacrifice that may be needed for a successful relationship. This may result in a gradual or total reduction in intimacy or love.”[2]

So, get your trust game strong and build your relationship on trust and honesty.

Respect and mutual understanding

Talking about relationship secret sauces, we can’t forget about the good old respect. 

According to authors Hendrick and Hendrick, who studied respect among couples at Texas Tech University, respect is one of the four factors that can build equality in a loving relationship, the others being personal identity, autonomy, and self-worth.[3] 

Author Jennifer Hirsch, in her book A Courtship After Marriage, explains,

Respect also comes into play among equals: to demand respect is to assert equality . . . A marriage with space for multiple voices suggests a profoundly different concept of respect than the one implied by the notion that under no circumstances should women answer back to their husbands.[4]

When you respect each other’s boundaries, opinions, and decisions, you show that you value each other as individuals. You accept each other for who you are with all your thoughts, feelings, and life experiences.

I don’t know why you love me
And that’s why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me, flaws and all
And that’s why I love you
– Beyoncé, “Flaws and All”

Mutual understanding and respect go hand in hand. They mean you can see things from your partner’s perspective and empathize with their feelings. 

And no, this doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner about everything. It means you’re ready to make a genuine effort to understand where they’re coming from.

Emotional connection and support

Emotional connection is an essential ingredient for a healthy and loving relationship. It’s all well and good to say you need emotional connection, but how do you get an emotional connection? 

It’s all about intimacy. According to Robert Sternberg, who studied what it means to love someone at Yale University, intimacy “refers to feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in loving relationships. It thus includes within its purview those feelings that give rise, essentially, to the experience of warmth in a loving relationship.”[5]

And, honestly, building intimacy is the best part of being in a new relationship!

You know what I’m talking about.

Those long night talks, pillow talks, and raw discussions — there’s nothing quite like it. They’re the best part of every new relationship. This is when you really get to the core of each other’s soul. 

Those endless talks are meant to develop your spark into a deep emotional connection, help you peel back the layers and reveal your true selves. It’s in these precise moments that you share your deepest feelings, thoughts, and vulnerabilities.

This is how you become each other’s biggest cheerleaders. When you’ve built intimacy with someone, emotional support comes naturally. 

And supporting each other through both good and challenging times is priceless.

Physical intimacy and affection

Physical intimacy — whether it’s getting cozy under the blanket or sharing a spontaneous kiss in the rain — is what keeps the connection alive in a relationship.

Every couple needs physical intimacy, including sexual and nonsexual affection. Those intimate moments help build your emotional bond and keep the spark alive. 

For his doctoral dissertation at Oklahoma State University, author Michael Talmadge Hill explains in his analysis of relationship satisfaction,

Physical affection allows us to connect with another person by showing our feelings for them. By touching another human being in a loving way, not only can we bridge the physical distance between two human beings, we can bridge the distance between hearts and souls.[6]

It’s important not to neglect physical intimacy, even when life gets busy or overbearing. 

Indeed, a study of Australian men and women found that frequency of sex played a considerable role in the relationships of participants. In fact, those “who were dissatisfied with their frequency of sex were also more likely to express overall lower sexual and relationship satisfaction.”[7]

So, make it a priority to show love through physical intimacy and affection. 

Shared beliefs and principles

When you share your partner’s moral code, you’re essentially speaking the same language. Family, career goals, or life priorities all help you build a shared future.

A study conducted at Utah State University found that individuals with two commonly shared values had higher marital satisfaction than those without closely shared values. It concluded that couples who share the same important values argue less and enjoy their marriage more.[8]

When you share life goals, core beliefs, and moral principles with your significant other, you build a life of harmony and mutual respect, making your relationship a true partnership.

On the flip side, conflicting values can strain a relationship. When couples fundamentally disagree on important life aspects, such as religion or ethics, it becomes challenging to find common ground.

When couples fundamentally disagree on important life aspects, such as religion or ethics, it becomes challenging to find common ground.

These differences can create frequent misunderstandings, conflict, and make it challenging to build a lasting, fulfilling relationship.

Effective communication

It’s a tale as old as time: Communication is truly the most fundamental value in a relationship.

Research into gender and communications at Trinity Western University indicates a clear link between communication quality and marriage success or discord.

Author Karen Westerop says, “Generally speaking, research indicates that increased levels of communication are associated with greater marital satisfaction, while communication deficits are associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction.”[9]

It’s not just about asking, “Hey, how are ya?” in the morning. Real, raw, and open communication, this is what makes a strong relationship.

Effective communication involves listening actively.

I know it’s tempting to let your mind wander to TTPD lyrics when your SO is recounting the details of their day with mind-numbing detail, but fight the urge. Engage, ask questions, and read between the lines of what your partner is really trying to tell you.

Effective communication also means speaking up when something is bothering you instead of letting it fester into resentment. Try expressing yourself clearly, and be willing to compromise when necessary.

No games, no hidden agendas. 

When you broach topics that might involve conflict, be respectful and listen to what your partner has to say. Allow them to express their feelings without talking over them or shutting them down.

Sure, it takes guts, but trust me, it’s worth it. When you communicate openly and you’re honest, you build trust. It requires effort and vulnerability, but the reward is worth it — a loving and supportive relationship.

How to Identify Shared Core Values in Your Relationship

Now that we’ve explored some of the fundamental relationship values, it’s time to get personal. 

Your relationship is just yours. You and your partner are unique individuals, so naturally, you will have your own set of shared core values.

Let’s help you identify what those are.

Reflect on your individual values

Start by reflecting on your own personal values and what matters most to you in life and relationships. You can’t know what to expect from a relationship or your partner if you don’t explore this.

Figure out what makes you tick. Is it family, ambition, or adventures?

If you plan to have kids someday, what values will you bring to your parenting? Do you want to raise your kids how you were raised, or deviate from your own upbringing?

What about finances? Are you more of a saver or a spender? Does your professional success matter to you in a way that might differ from your partner?

Perhaps volunteerism is important to you, and you want to build a life with someone who also donates time and energy to making the world a better place. 

Whatever it is, just jot down your values, and later, you can get your partner on board. Talk about your main principles in life and rank them by priority. 

This soul-searching can be a great way to build a solid foundation for your relationship.

Have an open and honest conversation with your partner

Set aside time for a meaningful distraction-free conversation with your partner. This is the time to get raw and personal, and it’s important that you both do it.

Share the list you previously created with each other and talk it through. Explain why each value means so much to you and how you live it in practice.

Be open and honest, but also make sure you really listen to your partner’s perspective. Use this chance to get to know them. 

Values can say so much about a person, so get ready to uncover some juicy insights.

Look for common themes and priorities

As you both share your values and perspectives, look for common themes and priorities. For example, do you have the same religious beliefs or at least overlapping ideas? 

Whatever your most important value in life is, identify overlapping areas or similarities if you want to build a cohesive relationship.

But also be open to adopting new values. If this person is important to you, and they love to travel but the idea makes you anxious, maybe it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and embrace a spirit of adventure.

Remember that it’s natural not to see eye-to-eye on everything, but finding common values can help you build a strong future together.

Discuss past experiences and future goals

Once you’ve identified your shared values, you can use them to understand each other’s backgrounds and outlooks.

Share stories about past experiences or moments that have shaped your values and beliefs and made you who you are today. Allow your partner to see the essence of who you are and look for similar glimpses of their past.

You can also use these stories to start working on your future together. 

Talk about how these shared values and goals will impact you as a couple. If family is one of your top priorities, you can make plans to prioritize or plan family gatherings more often. What a wonderful way to connect!

Be open to compromising and finding middle ground

Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite keyword for relationships: compromise. Yes, it is THAT important to make compromises in relationships because how often do you find someone who shares your values and is worth the compromise? 

So, if you find the one who makes it all worthwhile, be open to finding a compromise when necessary.

How do you do it, you wonder? Well, it’s all about approaching your differences with an open mind and a willingness to find a middle ground that respects both partners’ core beliefs.

And no, don’t do it like Carrie Bradshaw, who consistently sacrificed too much of herself for the sake of her relationships. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Big!)

When done right, compromise looks far less toxic and more balanced in real life.

For instance, if your partner is career-driven and you, on the other hand, are leaning toward a more adventurous lifestyle, you can start by accepting and respecting each other’s values. They make you who you are. Remember that.

Then, talk openly and, more importantly, be judgment-free. 

Plan adventures around work schedules or seek careers that allow for flexibility.

Always remember to encourage each other’s priorities in life, so that you can both thrive individually and together!

Regularly check in and reassess shared values

For better or for worse, nothing lasts forever. People change, and relationships evolve. What matters to you deeply now might not in a couple of years. And that’s okay.

It’s essential to revisit and reassess your shared values periodically. 

Talk about how well you’re upholding these values now and whether they still resonate with you. 

Keep an ongoing discussion to ensure you remain connected and respectful of each other’s values.

The Importance of Shared Values in Relationships

Shared values are a set of principles that guide your relationship toward a future you both enjoy.Zach Brittle, a member of the Gottman Institute and best-selling author of The Relationship Alphabet, says,

Creating shared meaning is one of the most rewarding facets of a marriage. It can be awesome, messy, agonizing, joyous, elusive, fun, risky, maddening, invigorating, mysterious, and all of these at once. If you start your relationship off by ensuring that it’s meaningful, you can save yourself a lot of pain and heartache down the road.[10]

When you’re on the same page about your priorities, everything is much easier to handle.

All those life challenges and obstacles are a breeze when you have someone to hold your hand and help you make tough choices.

Some other long-term benefits of shared values: 

  • Deeper connection: Shared values mean you get each other on a deeper level, which is a recipe for a long-lasting bond.
  • Stronger communication: When your values align, communication flows, making it easier to overcome hardships in life.
  • Security: Shared values also bring stability to your life.
  • Aligned goals: You support each other’s dreams and aspirations.

 When you’re in sync like this, life’s challenges are just bumps in the road — you’ve got this!

Conclusion

Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect partner or working on your current bond, find someone who shares your values.

As you imagine a future with this person, do you love and respect each other? Are you partners with shared goals? 

This is all possible if you have the same values and you’re both ready to make it work.

At the end of the day, it’s you and your partner against the world. And your shared values make sure you’re ready to face it all.

Want to learn more topics about being in a relationship? Check out our page here.

FAQs: Your Values Questions Answered

What is the value of love in a relationship?

The value of love in a relationship is in its ability to provide emotional fulfillment and build a fundamental connection that offers a sense of warmth, security, and belonging in a relationship. Just remember, love is not just something you feel, it’s something you do.

Can a couple have different values?

A couple can have different values, but it’s easier when most values line up. Although having similar values can be a strong indicator of a successful relationship, it doesn’t mean you and your significant other have to agree on everything. A healthy relationship is still possible even with different values.

What values and qualities are important to you in a relationship?

To understand what values and qualities are important to you in a relationship, first consider your individual priorities, such as trust, honesty, or respect. Once you know your values, you can build a relationship that brings fulfillment to both you and your partner.

References

1. Debnam, K. J., Howard, D. E., & Garza, M. A. (2014). “If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, then there is no relationship”: African American girls’ characterization of healthy dating relationships, a qualitative study. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 35(6), 397–407. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-014-0362-3

2. Arikewuyo, A. O., Eluwole, K. K., & Özad, B. (2021). Influence of lack of trust on romantic relationship problems: The mediating role of partner cellphone snooping. Psychological Reports, 124(1. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294119899902

3. Hendrick, S. S., & Hendrick, C. (2006). Measuring respect in close Relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6), 881–899. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407506070471

4. Hirsch, J. (2003). A courtship after marriage: Sexuality and love in Mexican transnational families. University of California Press.

5. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93(2), 119–135. https://pzacad.pitzer.edu/~dmoore/1986_sternberg_trianglelove_psyrev.pdf

6. Hill, M. T. (2002). Intimacy, passion, commitment, physical affection and relationship stage as related to romantic relationship satisfaction [Doctoral dissertation, Oklahoma State University]. Oklahoma State University Digital Archives. https://shareok.org/bitstream/handle/11244/7430/School%20of%20Teaching%20and%20Curriculum%20Leadership_142.pdf?sequence=1 

7. Smith, A., Lyons, A., Ferris, J., Richters, J., Pitts, M., Shelley, J., & Simpson, J. M. (2011). Sexual and relationship satisfaction among heterosexual men and women: The importance of desired frequency of sex. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 37(2), 104–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2011.560531

8. Parry, Travis G. (2016). The association between shared values and well-being among married couples [Doctoral dissertation, Utah State University]. Digital Commons at Utah State University. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd/4927 

9. Westerop, K. R. (2002). Building healthy couple relationships: Do communication skills, gender, hope, and family types make a difference? [Master’s thesis, Trinity Western University]. Trinity Western University Digital Archives. https://www.twu.ca/sites/default/files/westeropkaren_0.pdf

10. Brittle, Z. (n.d.). Create shared meaning. The Gottman Institute. https://www.gottman.com/blog/shared-meaning-is-key-to-a-successful-relationship/

Author

  • Andrijana Ikonic

    I’m a passionate writer with a flair for relationship and self-development topics. I’ve previously written articles for professional coaches and blogs, which involved in-depth research and a keen understanding of these areas. On a personal note, I've been in a happy, loving relationship for six years (and counting), giving my work that extra touch of authenticity. As the go-to advice giver in my friend group, I love bringing that same supportive energy online.

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