You and your partner each bring your own values to the relationship, these are often the values of your family that you were taught as a child. Each partner may not have a clear understanding of each other’s values until you begin living together and having to make some difficult decisions. Issues that often cause problems in relationships are values around child raising, finances, social friends and events, communication and intimacy.

Each partners principles, goals, and beliefs, shape their choices, actions, decisions, and motivations. The way you communicate about values impacts your relationship and your future. You might not discuss conflicting values until a situation makes it necessary (for instance, discussing parenting values when a baby arrives).

In successful relationships, partners determine that their conflicting values are acceptable or tolerable and are worth the effort. They communicate in ways that are respectful and supportive of each other’s values while focusing on what is best for their relationship. They encourage each other to reach individual goals, instead of trying to change your partner. So before you make the plunge, perhaps sit down and have a discussion about each of the topics that might cause you problems and ask:

1. What is really important for you about (being a couple, work /life balance)?
2. What do believe in regards to (savings, child rearing, affection)?
3. What are your life goals or what do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?
4. How would you like me to raise difficult topics?
5. When you get upset what do you do?
6. What is the most important thing for you about being in a relationship?
7. How will you support my needs in this relationship?
8. How would you like me to support your needs in this relationship?
9. What will be our shared goals?
10. How would you like me to communicate if I feel this is not working for me?

Being willing to have a difficult conversation at the beginning might save you a lot of heartache down the track. The key is can you be honest and not betray yourself when you answer.