1. What are your top five personal values?
Your core values are the guiding principles of your life. They represent what is most important to you and how you want to spend your time. If either of you haven’t defined your core values, review this list of 400 value words to help you determine your top five to ten core values. Share your list of top values with each other.
2. What should be our most important values as a couple?
Your individual values may not be exactly the same as your values as a couple. As a team, you might have values that support and honor your relationship and family. Review the list of values together and determine your top five to ten values as a committed couple. Start by selecting all the values that seem important, then hone them to the most important few.
3. How are we prioritizing our values in our life and family?
After you determine your values as individuals and as a couple, examine your lifestyle, behaviors, and choices to see how you are currently living in alignment with those values. Honoring your values as a couple and individually is critical to living authentically and happily. Ask your partner how he or she perceives you, related to honoring your individual core values. Sometimes your loved one can see you more objectively than you can see yourself.
4. What do we need to change to live closer to our values?
The previous exercise will likely highlight where you aren’t honoring your core values. What is happening in your lives or relationship that undermines one or more of these values? Discuss what is getting in the way of living in alignment with your values, and what actions you need to take to improve that.
5. How important is your spiritual life, and how do you practice it?
Even if you’ve discussed this prior to committing as a couple, it’s important to revisit your feelings about your spiritual life. Throughout the years, your beliefs and practices might change. One of you might have differing spiritual needs or beliefs. Maybe one of you has felt uncomfortable discussing this. Give each other the freedom and respect to openly discuss the importance (or lack of importance) of your spiritual lives.
6. What should we do as a couple to enhance our spiritual lives together?
Where do your spiritual or religious views overlap? It might be something as simple as spending time in nature together or reading an inspiring poem out loud before bed. Maybe you want to pray together or attend services more often as a couple. Connecting as a couple to something deeply meaningful and larger than yourselves is an important way to create intimacy and connection, even if you don’t completely agree on spiritual matters.
7. If we don’t share the same spiritual or religious views, how is this impacting our relationship?
If you have differences related to your religious or spiritual views, consider how these differences are impacting your love and respect for each other. Some couples can easily hold different views and maintain an intimate, bonded connection. However, if one or both of you feels resentful, worried, or frustrated by the other’s views or beliefs, this can create a divide between you. You might discover it’s best to agree to disagree, as attempting to sway your partner to embrace your beliefs can backfire. Mutual respect and acceptance is generally the best path for the health of your relationship.
8. How would you react if my religious or spiritual views changed, and we no longer shared the same views?
Your beliefs and views can change, and this can be disconcerting to the spouse who still holds the same beliefs you once held. Religious beliefs can be so important to some people that they will only marry someone of the same faith. If you are in the position that you no longer share the same faith, and it’s causing distress for both of you, then counseling is definitely in order. Trying to force someone to believe or disbelieve will never work. People’s views about faith and religion are uniquely their own. Counseling can help you find a way to navigate your religious differences and save the relationship.
9. What religious or spiritual beliefs do you have from your primary family that might no longer work for you?
More often than not, our religious views were adopted from our family of origin. If you were raised Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or nothing at all, then you likely had (or still have) these beliefs. However, as we get older, we might change our views and see that the beliefs of our parents are not our beliefs any longer. Maybe you or your spouse feels this way but has never articulated it. Give each other a safe and nonjudgmental space to talk about this and how it feels to diverge from the family’s beliefs.
10. What spiritual or religious views do we want to teach our children?
Perhaps this is something you discussed early in your marriage or relationship. If so, are you honoring your own desires related to teaching your children particular religious or spiritual views? Is one of you more responsible for this than the other, and is that acceptable to both of you? If you haven’t had this conversation before, then this is a good time to discuss how you want to involve and educate your children in spiritual or religious matters.
Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to your spiritual life and values? What specific action steps will you both take to improve your understanding of each other and yourselves related to your values and spirituality? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.