Having Lots in Common, or Shared Values: Which is More Important in a Relationship?

Photo by Everton Vila

Both are important in any successful relationship. However, while having a lot in common helps to keep the parties together in mutual activities, what really underpin any relationship, and control its direction, are the shared values between the couple.

No matter what is happening superficially – differences with looks, beauty, personality, activities etc. – people will stay connected only if their basic values are in tandem. Real opposites represent conflict from the beginning because there would be little alignment in needs and objectives. This would keep the parties going in different directions. For example, it is unlikely that someone with criminal tendencies will have a successful relationship with someone who believes in honesty and integrity, no matter how much both might like playing golf or attending the same events. There would be too much conflict in reconciling their values.

For example, you don’t get greater difference than an Indian guy in a turban from Kenya and a devout Catholic woman from the West Indies! Totally different upbringing, cultures and perspectives about life. I met a Sikh when I was 19, and married, to much opposition, across the racial and cultural divide. No one, least of all his parents who tried everything at the beginning to break us up, expected the marriage to last more than a couple years, at best. We went on for over 30 years and when we parted, we still had very strong feelings for each other. At the end, though the love was there to a large extent, our direction and values had clearly changed in what we sought in our lives.

At the beginning, my ex-husband and I complemented each other in many ways, because we believed in the same things when we met. We were both rebels in our communities; we both loved reggae and Bob Marley, and we both had the same outlook on maintaining a home and raising children. Without realising it then, I also sought a kind of protector, being young and naive in England, and, being very clever and more secure, he wanted someone to protect. Bingo for our expectations!

When I began to feel more independent and to value other things in life, like my own creativity and freedom to act in ways I enjoyed, the dynamics began to shift and our values gradually differed, especially as he grew more conservative and controlling in approach. In fact, we became opposites in our needs over such a long time and stopped connecting, appreciating and communicating with each other.

So, having lots in common do help for better enjoyment in a relationship, but the individual perspectives and beliefs that form our values have to mutually align to keep a couple together.

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