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"Sharing of values" in a relationship

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hey guys,

i sometimes find it a little confusing when people say that good relationships are based on "sharing of values".

just let me give you this:

i watched the movie "mission impossible III", where you have ethan hunt marrying that woman. at some point in the movie ethan tells us why she married her. it's because she represents what life was "before all this", meaning before his carrer as a secret agent with all the time consuming missions, hardly having time for family life, constantly having to tell off going out with your wife/friends and so on. some part of him misses that kind of life.

i don't believe that ethan is unhappy with the life he's living, but i believe what he needs is someone who lives that other life for him, he likes to see that other life "being lived", too, he needs someone from the "other world" on his side. someone who still has what we might call a "normal" life. because having such a person on your side gives you some sort of "balance" and "compensation". by watching her live that life, he feels like he is somehow getting that life back. that her enjoyment of that life somehow "swops over" to him, and i don't mean that in any mystical way at all, i think most of you will know what i mean. and his wife, the one he marries in that movie shortly before his next assignment, gives him all that what he's lacking.

now, why am i giving you all this?

first of all, let me say, i don't see anything wrong in that relationship, do you? nothing wrong in ethan's motives, provided i have understood them correctly. it appears to me that he engages in a proper relationship.

i just have problems integrating it into the well-known phrase that you must "share values".

basically, i find that phrase ambiguous. i could understand it in two ways:

1.)

you have certain important "common" values with your partner, meaning they are the same.

2.)

you can provide certain highly important things for your partner (in your caracter, your attitude, your life and feeling of life) that your partner lacks and can never provide for herself and vice versa.

i think you can find examples of proper relationships for both 1.) and 2.). but as for 1.), i think there are cases in which this isn't neccessarliy sufficient. and i think my mi III example is already one of them.

i'm trying to put the value ethan is seeking into a term. let's just call it "normality in life" for now. i know it probably doesn't cover everything he wants, but it gives us at least an element to start with.

according to 1.), ethan could have as well married someone with the same problems he has. someone like that chinese female colleague at work, provided she feels the same lack in her life. he could marry her according to 1.), because they would both be pursuing the same thing, it would be the same object of desire they would be running after, in other words they would have a common value which they "share".

but obviously that wouldn't satisfy either of them. after having made some love to each other in an orgy of mutual compassion, they would still both have to look for some counterpart to themselves to make love to. someone who not only LOVES "normality in life" but also HAS it. and i'm sure that love would be much more meaningful to them than the love between these two secret agents.

to me, ethan hunt is the number one candidate for "sharing of values" in the sense of 2.) and it appears to be a proper basis for a relationship in my eyes.

examples like these just tell me that "sharing of values" in the sense of 1.), the sense that i perceive to be widely used in society, can be highly insufficient in a lot of cases. personally, i believe i could use a mixture of both.

it is not just to have values "in common". it's also to "have important values provided to you, that you can't provide for yourself". i think this makes a relationship special and interesting.

i don't think you MUST have a type-2.)-relationship to make it perfect. i think it's just that some two people are the same and don't need anything new or different, they are just happy to have someone like them, while other two people are totally different and therefore need and and enjoy each other, too.

what do you think?

you're also very welcome to put my observations and descriptions into some better language, using the proper philosophical or psychological terms. i'd be glad to learn about their usage.

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Now first off, let me just throw the caveat out there that this is very abstract. So I can give only the broadest of statements in response.

i just have problems integrating it into the well-known phrase that you must "share values".

basically, i find that phrase ambiguous. i could understand it in two ways:

1.)

you have certain important "common" values with your partner, meaning they are the same.

"Sharing values" does not mean that you express them in the exact same way. What you call, for lack of a better term at the moment, "normalcy" is valued by both of them: she by living it and he by fighting for it. These are both ways of valuing it, and so I think it is valid to say that they share this value.

There's also the matter of the masculinity of his job. Just because men value having deep voices and muscular, manly bodies does not mean they desire these qualities in a parter. :confused:

Only that they desire a partner who desires them (in part) for those qualities.

*(I speak of heterosexuals here, of course)

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i just have problems integrating it into the well-known phrase that you must "share values".

basically, i find that phrase ambiguous. i could understand it in two ways:

1.)

you have certain important "common" values with your partner, meaning they are the same.

2.)

you can provide certain highly important things for your partner (in your character, your attitude, your life and feeling of life) that your partner lacks and can never provide for herself and vice versa.

i think you can find examples of proper relationships for both 1.) and 2.). but as for 1.), i think there are cases in which this isn't necessarily sufficient. and i think my mi III example is already one of them.

Actually, I don't think that's quite the way to put it. The common values (1) don't have to be exactly the same -- i. e. for your example, even though I haven't seen the Mission Impossible movies, they wouldn't both have to be secret agents. However, in the abstract and in their particular way of expressing it, I would think that a secret agent guy out to defend America would have to have a romance partner who values America as much as he does, and not be your ordinary run of the mill homemaker. Maybe if he is a secret agent, she might not know about it, but if she found out she would have to think that is was wonderful that her husband was a hero in that regard. Maybe at first she would be shocked that he lied to her for X number of years about what he does for a living, but then, in a dramatic twist, she finds out and realizes that if she knew about it beforehand she might be putting either his life or her life in danger (if the bad guys found out).

In other words, I don't know that they would both have to love CSI or Stargate Atlantis or Dr. Who (some of my favorites), but she wouldn't be of much interest to him if she thought they were the silliest things on television on the grounds that heroism is silly. If she loved to watch stupid comedies that continuously put man qua man down (including woman qua woman) while he loved inspiring drama that showed the potential in man, then it probably wouldn't workout (though there are some well-done comedies out there). The difference between laughing with the heroes versus laughing at heroism would be too great of a difference.

Regarding values (2), I think they would both have to have similar characters and sense of life or one would become a burden on the other. The one who had the more uplifting and joyous sense of life would feel burdened by the one who is always down and out, even if the down and out person would be inspired by the happier one. This also goes to (1) in that the person who is inspired by heroism versus the one who wants to relax into silliness, probably don't look at life enough the same way on a sense of life level to be compatible. And if one of them had a bold character -- you know, always spoke his mind, was straight forward, etc. -- would probably be board after a while if he tried to get into a romance with someone who was always very timid and afraid to speak her mind. To put it another way, Howard Roark could never fall in love with a Catherine Halsey; and Catherine would think that Roark was too domineering and arrogant.

Romantic compatibilities center mostly around sense of life, rather than particular identical accomplishments and particular identical values; though I would say the more they loved particular values identically within a range the more compatible they would be. But they both have to have the character to stand up for what they know is right; and independence -- the ability to provide for oneself -- would be one of the traits they would both need; or it becomes a "needy relationship" whereby the lesser one always needs the stronger one for moral support.

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Now first off, let me just throw the caveat out there that this is very abstract. So I can give only the broadest of statements in response.

"Sharing values" does not mean that you express them in the exact same way. What you call, for lack of a better term at the moment, "normalcy" is valued by both of them: she by living it and he by fighting for it. These are both ways of valuing it, and so I think it is valid to say that they share this value.

Yeah, I also meant to say they both share this value, meaning that it is valued by both of them, but I think it wouldn't do anyone any good if they were both just fighting for it. I think that one of them, it's HER in the movie, must be actually LIVING it, so HE can enjoy it. Her too, of course. And of course SHE also gets something in return, namely heroism, dedication to protecting the country and courage from HIM, which SHE can enjoy. Him too, of course.

Again, they both have common values, but there is a division of roles in WHO lives which one. This way it's a double-gaining relationship.

There's also the matter of the masculinity of his job. Just because men value having deep voices and muscular, manly bodies does not mean they desire these qualities in a parter. :o

Only that they desire a partner who desires them (in part) for those qualities.

*(I speak of heterosexuals here, of course)

Right, there are also values you can't or don't want to live, but you want to fight for as a woman, such as masculine sexual expressiveness in your partner. And vice versa. Again, both of them value it, but only the right sex can live the sexual expressiveness of his respective gender. But there is a mutual exchange of values.

Two MEN living in a relationship would miss the other side, since what they're providing to each other doesn't include the sexual counterpart. Of course gay couples would tell you they don't need it, though I have a bad feeling about it. But that's a different topic.

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Actually, I don't think that's quite the way to put it. The common values (1) don't have to be exactly the same -- i. e. for your example, even though I haven't seen the Mission Impossible movies, they wouldn't both have to be secret agents. However, in the abstract and in their particular way of expressing it, I would think that a secret agent guy out to defend America would have to have a romance partner who values America as much as he does, and not be your ordinary run of the mill homemaker. Maybe if he is a secret agent, she might not know about it, but if she found out she would have to think that is was wonderful that her husband was a hero in that regard. Maybe at first she would be shocked that he lied to her for X number of years about what he does for a living, but then, in a dramatic twist, she finds out and realizes that if she knew about it beforehand she might be putting either his life or her life in danger (if the bad guys found out).

In other words, I don't know that they would both have to love CSI or Stargate Atlantis or Dr. Who (some of my favorites), but she wouldn't be of much interest to him if she thought they were the silliest things on television on the grounds that heroism is silly. If she loved to watch stupid comedies that continuously put man qua man down (including woman qua woman) while he loved inspiring drama that showed the potential in man, then it probably wouldn't workout (though there are some well-done comedies out there). The difference between laughing with the heroes versus laughing at heroism would be too great of a difference.

Yeah, sure. There needs to be a common basis of what both value in a more abstract way. As for the wife being your "ordinary run of the mill homemaker", I'm not very familiar with that term. Is it

"I don't reflect about life very much but just do things instinctively and I don't have very strong feelings for heroism"

or

"Being a homemaker is what I can do with great passion and ability. I really admire heroes, but I don't have the (mental etc.) capabilities to be one the way my husband is. But I do LOVE it very much, more than many who have those capabilities but don't love it. That's why I'm very happy for anyone who can achieve that. Thus I'm trying to support it in any way I can in my husband. I think that's the best I can do to support my values."

?

I wouldn't see any problem with the latter case, would you?

Regarding values (2), I think they would both have to have similar characters and sense of life or one would become a burden on the other. The one who had the more uplifting and joyous sense of life would feel burdened by the one who is always down and out, even if the down and out person would be inspired by the happier one. This also goes to (1) in that the person who is inspired by heroism versus the one who wants to relax into silliness, probably don't look at life enough the same way on a sense of life level to be compatible. And if one of them had a bold character -- you know, always spoke his mind, was straight forward, etc. -- would probably be board after a while if he tried to get into a romance with someone who was always very timid and afraid to speak her mind. To put it another way, Howard Roark could never fall in love with a Catherine Halsey; and Catherine would think that Roark was too domineering and arrogant.

Romantic compatibilities center mostly around sense of life, rather than particular identical accomplishments and particular identical values; though I would say the more they loved particular values identically within a range the more compatible they would be. But they both have to have the character to stand up for what they know is right; and independence -- the ability to provide for oneself -- would be one of the traits they would both need; or it becomes a "needy relationship" whereby the lesser one always needs the stronger one for moral support.

What you're calling wrong is a one-sided-gain-relationship. And I think you're right about it being inproper if that's all the relationship involves.

If timidity is constant and persistent to the extend that hardly a word is uttered, I agree.

But if timidity comes in the context of carefulness and consideration, but the "ice" can be broken through encouragement and showing that you have an open ear for her feelings and are highly interested in what she thinks and will try to understand rather than despise her thoughts or feel hurt, then that shouldn't be a problem. Also, her carefulness can remind you of how to deal with people in society and help you learn to be more careful at times. And your openness could also teach her some more outspokenness towards people in cases where she should rather stand up for herself, rather than accept too many things from other people.

If you are uplifting and joyous in a temperamental way and view it as something you wanna be all the time, then you can't live with someone who is rather calm in temperament all the time, even it is a happy form of calmness.

But what I'm thinking of is: You bear that ability to be full of enjoyable temperament. And you wouldn't need any inspiration to live like that, because it's inside of you. But you also feel, that you really need to calm down half of the time, you're missing the calmness to enjoy other things due to your temperament. But you don't really know how to initiate that enjoyment, how to get into it and hold it. You need someone who exumes that "aura" or however you call it to inspire you. And let's say your partner needs your temperamental joyful inspiration in the same way, but bears that automatic calm joy inside of her that she wants to get out of half of the time. I would say that in this case, two people could "complete" each other. I hope to say "complete each other" does not already have any other, negative meaning.

But you see, this isn't a burdening relationship, but a "net profit" one. And you're enjoying things together, it's just a matter of "timing".

I'm not talking about a relationship with a "lesser" one, you see? It's about a relationship with MUTUAL exchange of values that both enjoy together.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will begin by saying I have not seen the movie you are speaking of, but unfortunately I am experienced in that kind of relationship. There is a profound difference between needing someone in your life and wanting someone in your life. This applies to all human relationships, but most especially to love. That said, there is definitely something wrong with a relationship where one person needs the other to fill in some void of self-doubt, or to help them set their priorities. If he truly needs her in his life to keep him linked to "the way life was before," it sounds to me like he does not have a good grasp of what his values are in life. Romance, as it should be, is based on shared values, but if he is in so much turmoil regarding his job, purpose, etc. does he really know what it is he wants to pursue? And if he is having doubts about the values he is pursuing, and the priority rating he's placed on them, what does he have to offer her in terms of romance? Is her perception of him based on only a partial understanding of who he is? While two people may seem to function well, and can benefit from the presence of others, that kind of relationship does not constitute what a romantic relationship should be. Shared values are key, and with that, a shared sense of life is pivotal. If being connected to that kind of life is what makes him happy, he needs to pursue it himself and not let her function as some sort of philosophical patch.

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