What Do You Do When You and Your Wife Have Different Values?

What do you do when you and your wife have different values? And by that, I don’t mean necessarily that she totally doesn’t like one of your values and you totally don’t like one of hers, but that they’re just different. Values oftentimes, they’re not necessarily a moral, it’s not clear which ones should be the highest. Oftentimes there’s just a lot of things you can value. And sometimes your wife value some things more than you do or vice versa. And I really love the way that Phil and Diane Comer talked about this and their book Raising Passionate Jesus Followers. The example they used is that Diane, a high, high value for her is cleanliness in the house. And for Phil, a high, high value for him is fun. And neither of them really share the other’s value super high.

And so they had to figure out as a couple, what is going to be our family culture around fun and cleanliness, if one of these values is shared more by one of us than the other person? And I think that is an incredibly powerful conversation.

And there’s different ways this tends to play out you guys. In some families, one spouse dominates. And so their top values are just flat out the top values of the family and the other spouse just loses all the time in terms of any distinctive values that they’re bringing to the table. And then of course, there’s other families where the family culture is just incredibly weak and every individual values their own thing. And there’s not much cohesion in the family, and that’s probably pretty common in modern families.

But what I think is so much more dynamic is if you could think about those distinct values and if they are values that you aren’t super excited about personally, but are really important to your wife, then I think you need to say to her and to the family, we want mom’s value for this thing to be one of our family values. We want her values to impact our family culture. And so I am going to champion that value because it’s important to my wife. And likewise things that are important to you, she may have to decide to champion for the family. And that could mean dialing down some lesser values in order to make some room to really prioritize and really reflect values that are really important to your wife and to make sure that there’s a good dynamic going on.

But I just think it’s a really important process and this is where we really encourage you guys to take a step back as a family and think about what are those pillars or those values that you’re really going to fight for. Articulate them clearly, but make sure that they represent both you and your wife really well and the things that you care a lot about. That it’s not simply just one person dominating the values conversation or that you’re not having it. But Jeff, what are your thoughts about how this works?

Yeah, no, I agree. Because also what it does too, is it kind of creates this endless cycle of what actual love’s supposed to do, which is like this reciprocal, cyclical nature of serving one another. So when you elevate someone else’s values, what it does is then they usually respond by willingly wanting to honor and serve you back. And then you go… It really creates this cycle rather than doing the other thing where you’re fighting for your rights, fighting for your values, tends to really stop the cycle. It just kind of kills it. And so I would just say the cycle of love and grace and intimacy, that kind of goes further and further and further into Jesus, and into growing you guys, and into making you more and more how a marriage should look, usually tends to happen by kind of that cyclical nature of people giving up their rights or giving up their values at some level or prioritizing the other person.

That’s literally what it says, by the way, in Philippians two. I’m blanking on it right now, but it literally says like, “Count others above yourself” or whatever the town… That’s pretty simple straight forward, just count their needs or priorities above you. Their’s are more important. That’s pretty simple. And when you do that and when both people are doing that, it’s something really, really special.

And so what can that look like? Especially for the fathers listening, what can it for you to lead in that, to serve in that, to ask your wife maybe a really simple question after this episode would be like, “Hey, what do you prioritize that I don’t tend to prioritize? So it probably maybe doesn’t get as seen in the home as you would like it to be.” And that question could probably spark a fun conversation. So that’s what I’d say to you guys.

And if you guys want to have some real space to have this conversation as well, in a little bit more of a guided way, I really encourage you guys to come to the family teams weekend. This is really where we workshop three things. We talk about that your family mission and pillars and so we actually give you time and a workbook where we work through…

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