In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of developing and articulating a set of shared relationship values. Values are the concepts, qualities, or ideals that we're just not willing to forget or forgo. When a pair of people recognize, share, and talk about important values, hard decisions get easier, more trust emerges, and a sense of teamwork develops. But all that goodness doesn’t show up automatically, we have to work at it, intentionally. It is all too easy to forget our values and stray from them.
A few months ago, Kelly and I spent a morning choosing and honing our current relationship values. They are:
So now we set aside every Wednesday night as Enrichment Night. We still sit on the couch, but we leave Netflix off and instead spend time going over our spending and savings goals. (We use a program called You Need a Budget and we recommend it highly.) Part of that budgeting work includes deciding how to distribute our charitable and political donations (an action that helps us live into another value of Giving). If we finish the financial work, we enrich our relationship further by either playing a card game or watching educational videos.
I admit there are many Wednesday nights that we both wish we could just watch another episode of Queer Eye and call it a night. But because this new habit is linked clearly to a relationship value, we acknowledge its importance and give ourselves to it.
The regular habit of Enrichment night means that we never neglect our finances (which we know is one area that lots of couples fight over) and it means we are supporting each other in being our best selves, most aligned with our lofty values. We encourage all of you to establish concrete habits tied to your values, whether or not you are in a relationship.
What is one habit you will try one that will engage your values? If one of your values is health, will you walk everyday? If your relationship values include intimacy, will you make a practice of breathing together? If a value is beauty, will you commit to going to a museum or gallery every month?
Let us know in the comments what habit you aim to create.
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Charles Matheus grew up in an old mining town in Arizona. He managed to graduate from an Ivy League University and knows that you won't hold that against him.