Building a successful relationship takes dedication. There are untold life situations that can spring up, and test the strength and unity of your partnership. Having compatible core values will provide you with the necessary strength and camaraderie to be able to navigate through those stumbling blocks together.
Imagine a passenger getting on a train. Now imagine that the train is headed for San Diego, and the passenger wants to go to Sacramento. The passenger is going to be quite disappointed when he realizes that he’s arrived in San Diego, and not at his destination of choice. Both the train and the passenger need to be headed in the same direction for successful travel.
The same holds true for relationships. Similar core beliefs are fundamental for you and your partner in order to feel safe, protected, connected, and comfortable, to name but a few.
So what are relationship values? They are the guiding principles that dictate your behavior; your personal perspective, not only about yourself, but about others and the world. Core values are the underpinnings of how you live your life.
Be sure your relationship values have substance when discussing them with your partner. Here’re 10 important core values for a successful relationship:
This core value stands above all others. It is the foundation of your relationship. Without trust you basically have nothing. According to an article in Strategic Psychology,
“Trust is integral to happy and fulfilling relationships in both our personal and professional lives. We require trust to develop over time to build successful and meaningful partnerships.”
You and your partner need to trust each other with all you have. You need to feel confident that they will have your back, that you’ll have theirs, and that if there are children involved, their welfare comes above all else.
Your beloved and you can have a triumphant relationship. How? Trusting that each of you will always do the best for the greater good of the relationship. If you truly trust your partner, and they you, you are on your way to conquering any hurdle that stands in the way.
If you are working on building trust in a relationship, see this article for advice.
This core value is extremely important and goes hand in hand with trust. Being loyal and having a loyal partner assures that both of you are on the same team. According to Relationship Advice: How to Define Loyalty in a Relationship,
“Loyalty is dedication; knowing that you’re devoted solely to each other. That all of the choices and decisions you make have been considered with your partner and the impact on your relationship in mind. Your commitment never wavers and your bond is unbreakable.”
If both you and your honey are reliable and true to each other above everyone else, you’re on the right path. If not, it could be a warpath. I once treated a couple in which one of the partners was missing the loyalty “chip.”
He was loyal, but not to his wife. His family came first and foremost. This did not bode well with his wife, obviously. His parents had to have the last say in their big decisions, and when they directed negative comments at his wife, he did not step up to defend her.
He remained silent and allowed her to take their verbal beating. This is not being loyal to your partner. Loyalty is a key core value for the health and survival of your relationship.
If you are loyal to each other, your love will thrive in the best possible way. And isn’t that the goal of every successful relationship?
Learn more tips about building loyalty in this article: How to Build Loyalty in Your Relationship
This core value is paramount, especially if you are going to raise children together. Religion has a strong place in many people’s lives.
Despite possible difficulties, you might still decide that your partner’s different faith isn’t significant. In her article, Why Religious Compatibility Matters in Relationships, Kelsey Dallas, states,
“Religious differences don’t always spell doom for relationships, but they can lead to arguments and tensions. Religiously mixed couples should be proactive about addressing the role faith will play in their family life, according to experts on religion and romance.”
It may be true that religious differences might not end the relationship, but consider the effects on your children if you happen to have them? How will you raise them? Will you let them make up their own minds when they’re old enough? Or are you going to say, “The children must be raised Christian/Muslim. And that’s final!?”
Even if the couple comes to a similar conclusion, there is also the issue of extended family. If they are intricately involved in their religion—the one you were raised in—they may expect that their grandchildren should be as well, and apply undue pressure to make it happen.
If it’s important to you, make sure you discuss this core value, and that you’re both on the same page. And if you are, you’re adding another building block to your already solid partnership.
Your dream growing up may have been to get married, have children, and extended family nearby. That’s always been a core value for you. But what happens if your partner wants no children, and plans to move to Africa to study elephants? You’re not going to get too far. Family is a highly critical value, and one that both of you need to share.
I knew a couple who initially decided they didn’t want to have children. It all went smoothly until the wife decided she wanted to have children, after all. Unfortunately, her husband hadn’t had a change of heart.
A choice had to be made. Did she leave her husband of 12 years to try and meet another guy, fall in love, then have children? Or did she stay with the man she loved, and give up the idea of having a family? She chose the latter, but with painful consequences.
Decide early on what your values are on family. Do you want to live near your extended family? How often do you want to visit? Do you want to have a family of your own? If so, how many? This core value, if not shared, could mean the end of your relationship.
In his article, Family Values: What are family values and why are they important, Bryan Zitzman, Ph.D, LMFT, writes,
“Ultimately, your family values will be specific to you and your family unit. They represent the ways you want to live your family life, and they may have been passed down through multiple generations throughout the decades. Knowing what a family–both the nuclear family and extended family–values can help solidify bonds among family members. Family values help kids and young men and women make good choices because they have a set of beliefs to help guide them.”
When you both hold this core value near and dear to your hearts, it can be very rewarding, bringing you closer together, and expanding the great thing you already have.
Without a doubt, this core value is crucial to the development and well-being of your relationship. In an article by Saminu Abass, 3 Benefits of Effective Communication, he states,
“Living together as husband and wife (or any romantic partnership) can only work when there is an effective back and forth of information between the couple.”
Communicating with each other will bring you closer; allow you to get to know each other as deeply as you can. If you like to keep things to yourself, believing that no one needs to know your business, not even your partner, and your partner loves to talk about every feeling, then the relationship will more than likely fail.
Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to process situations before talking about them, and your partner wants to talk about them immediately. That’s OK. As long as you both want to keep the lines of communication open, it can still work. You and your honey can decide on a time to talk about the issue/s, and resolve them. The problem arises when there is no talking at all.
Remember to also communicate the good stuff. Communicating with each other is a way to invest in your relationship. Any time you are sharing a piece of yourself and your life, your relationship will benefit, and you’ll be rewarded with increased intimacy.
You like to go hiking every weekend and your mate loves to stay home binging New Amsterdam. Lifestyles are important to every relationship. If you both like to do different things all the time, spending no more than a few minutes a week together, then your relationship is less likely to prosper.
I’m not saying that you have to be glued at the hip, but it’s a good idea to spend fun, quality time with each other. If you’re an outdoorsman, and your partner is a homebody, or you love to go out partying every weekend, and your partner sits in the corner counting the minutes until they can go home, then again, that could create a stumbling block.
As a couple, it’s important you do things together; that for the most part, you enjoy participating in the same activities. But even if you like chasing tornadoes, and your spouse likes taking walks in the park, your relationship can still function totally fine. Just make sure that most of your other core values are on point.
This core value is critical to every relationship. In an article by Trudy Adams, TBH: 5 Reasons Why Honesty is Important, she writes,
“Without honesty there is no foundation for a lasting or enjoyable relationship in any context, whether that be with a family member, friend or romantic interest. Honesty is a voice for love that builds trust. Without it, even ‘I love you’ becomes a lie in itself and there’s no real security in the relationship.”
The value of honesty is priceless. When you and your partner are honest with each other; when you both believe that honesty is the only way to carry on your relationship, you are saying that your union is decidedly important to you.
If you and your partner are both genuine with each other, you are elevating your alliance to the highest place. There is no guessing game for either of you; you both know where you stand, and that is the best way to grow together.
Honesty can sometimes feel awkward, especially if what you have to say is difficult, but in the long run, it’s better than concealment, which can cause irreparable damage.
If both you and your partner share this beautiful core value, your chances are good that your relationship will thrive in the best way possible.
You may wonder what self-discipline is doing on this list. Let me explain. Let’s suppose you get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to work out. You are disciplined about your eating habits, maintain a clean home, and delay gratification for future benefits.
You regard self-discipline as a strong virtue. But what if your partner hits the snooze button every morning? What if he doesn’t get out of bed until 9:00 a.m. and then runs out the door with a bag of chips for breakfast? How would you feel? In a case like this, resentment could easily fester.
It’s important to share similar core values in this arena to avoid constant arguments
If you, as the self-disciplined partner, don’t care about your partner’s habits, then it could work, but there’s a strong possibility that if you’re highly self-disciplined, you will expect the same from you mate.
When I was working on my Master’s Degree, we were told that many marriages resulted in divorce during this phase of the program. It was then explained to us that if one partner is on the path of learning and self-improvement, and the other partner remains stagnant, the gap between the couple could widen.
If you are on a continual quest to become the best version of yourself, and your mate doesn’t care to go beyond the knowledge he/she acquired in high school, consider this a cause for alarm.
Whenever you learn something new, it’s natural to want to share it. And who better than with your partner? If they’re not interested, it could lead to disappointment and frustration on your part.
Learn and grow together, and you’ll be on your way to a successful relationship.
For more on the role of self-improvement in relationships, I suggest a blog post by Mel Robbins, You’re Growing but the People in Your Life Are Not. Here’s What You Can Do. She provides some valuable ideas on how to manage self-improvement and growth with your partner.
In order for your relationship to flourish, you must have similar thoughts and goals about how you manage your finances. If one of your core values is saving money for a rainy day, and your partner’s is to throw it away like it grows on trees, then this is going to create havoc in the most fundamental parts of your partnership.
According to Dave Ramsey, financial infidelity endangers the future of your relationship. If you or your partner are making big financial decisions without consulting the other, then this shows a total disregard for the economy of the relationship, and the relationship itself.
Your core values on finances need to be the same, or frustration is going to plague the saver and the spender. In her article, Keeping Money Secrets From Each other: Financial Infidelity on the Rise, Yoki Noguchi states,
“Marital infidelity is well-known, but financial infidelity might actually be more common. The few academic studies have estimated that as many as 41% of American adults admit to hiding accounts, debts or spending habits from their spouse or partner.”
If you don’t share the same core values on finances, it will more than likely lead to lying on the part of the partner responsible for the financial infidelity. The lying will lead to broken trust and feelings of betrayal. This is significantly difficult to repair.
Make sure that you and your honey have the same core values regarding money. This will fabricate a more solid relationship, and a future where both of you, working together, will determine your financial future, and all that that includes.
Core values are deeply held beliefs. Those beliefs dictate how you behave in your life, and with others. Having a significant other who holds those same beliefs is a wonderful complement to the relationship, and the stuff that strong unions are built upon.
Having said that, your core values may change over the course of your life. You may have one set of values when you’re twenty, and then experience situations that alter those values when you’re in your thirties, forties, and beyond. Still, whatever changes occur need to be in sync with your partner’s for your relationship’s success.
If you appreciated learning about core values, be sure to post this article and share some of your relationship’s core values.
We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.
The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.
Table of Contents
The Importance of Living in the Moment
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha
While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.
Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:
By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.
Improve Your Relationships
Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?
Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.
How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.
By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.
You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.
Why Do We Worry?
Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.
When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.
Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.
Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.
3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment
Step 1: Overcome Worrying
In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:
Calm Your Mind
When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.
The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.
In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.
Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems
Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.
People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.
If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.
Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment
In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.
Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.
You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.
If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.
Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past
None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.
So how do most people cope with painful emotions?
By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.
In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.
Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.
A Wandering Mind
From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.
Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.
Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.
Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.
Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.
Step 3: Practice Mindfulness
So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?
Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.
The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.
When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality.
You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.
This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.
To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.
If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.
You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.
Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.
Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.
You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.
This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article:
While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.
You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.
Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)
Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?
Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?
Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.
You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.
In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.
You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.
Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.
The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.
Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.
So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:
- Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
- Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
- Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.
You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating
Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.
Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.
You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.
Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.
Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.
The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.