LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVI. PLATE THREE: DECIDING WHAT’S IMPORTANT (IDENTIFYING SHARED VALUES)
Bettina also noted that this shared commitment is flexible, given that it shifted when they had children. The children became the center of attention for both Bettina and Neil, as is the case for many couples we interviewed. If both Bettina and Neil don’t make the shift then conflict can occur. One of them remains committed to the relationship as the primary value in their life, while the other partner shifts attention to the children. This shift is often viewed as a betrayal unless it is mutual as it apparently was in the case of Bettina and Neil.
But what happens when the children grow up and leave home? Once again, Bettina and Neil have remained flexible. Bettina notes that they both felt less like a couple when they had children: “but once the kids leave it seems that you are more of a couple. For me it’s a more pronounced feeling of being a couple when we don’t have to think about anything else.” Neil enthusiastically agree It, “That’s right! That’s right!”
KEY CHAPTER POINTS – PLATE THREE: SELECTING VALUES
• Choose values structures that reflect their own distinctive life experiences rather than those imposed by society, friends or family.
• Hold deeply rooted, commonly-shared value(s) as a core of their relationship.
• Negotiate with their partners over the priority or importance of their individually held values and their joint values.
• Tend to make the relationship itself a top priority.
• Accept their individual differences in values and are fond of such varying characteristics each other holds.
• Find the best in one another and find ways to use these strengths in their survival as a couple.