Win Today with Christopher Cook

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The Key to Enjoying Time-Tested, Lasting Relationships

In life, we often seek to surround ourselves with like-minded people, but I believe there is a greater asset—an asset that will improve the quality of all our relationships: engaging with like-valued people.

Truth be told, titles like the one an inch north of this sentence are typically as shiny as the golden ticket that bought Charlie’s entrance into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Often, they insinuate a “silver bullet” solution for an otherwise complex topic. And with even more truth be told, most of us understand that there isn’t one magic key to enjoying successful relationships; instead, there are many. And they definitely involve commitment, intentionality, and the willingness to be wrong before you’ll ever be “right.”

Who doesn’t want to take their relationships to the next level in quality, communication, and mutuality? I know I do. And it’s for that reason that there is a hidden gem in the recesses of relationship building skills that may be less obvious than one would initially suspect, so here it is:

In life, we often seek to surround ourselves with like-minded people, but I believe there is a greater asset—an asset that will improve the quality of all our relationships: engaging with like-valued people.

What are Shared Values?

I believe that shared values create a home base so-to-speak from which the relationship builds history and a solid foundation on which it stands the test of time. Shared values are much more valuable than shared interests. Fundamentally, they are the beliefs that make-up your uniqueness. Often, they are formed early in life and help to define your core values in areas such as spirituality, finances, child rearing, education, and even politics to name a few. But as we grow older, our perspectives about life change and can certainly alter our core values, which directly affect our decisions, whether big, or small.

Matchmaking 101

I suppose it’s kind of like dating with the intention of seeking marriage as a potential outcome of the relationship. Working with young adults regularly in the last decade, I often heard the following rationalization for pursuing a relationship: “I know he/she is this way now, but I really believe he/she will change. At least I hope so. There’s so much time.”

And my response is usually, “Well I really believe that’s totally dumb.” Here’s why…

Is change possible? Certainly, but assuming change and underestimating the cost of compromise on a whim is an abandonment of your core values. It isn’t safe to make purposeful decisions upon that premise. In the context of dating (and later, marriage), you choose someone for who they are today, not who they might become. That’s hedging a bet that might backfire. More importantly, you’re cheating yourself today and possibly tomorrow. What you must understand is that significant decisions are rarely made from conjecture alone. The most significant decisions in life are often made from a deeper place—your belief system. And that belief system is nurtured by—you guessed it—your core values.

To me, what this boils down to is one word: authenticity. You can’t be successful in long-term endeavors if your decisions today aren’t founded upon authenticity. In any relationship, you should regularly ask yourself, “Beyond superfluous things, what really matters most to me? With whom can I truly connect? In whom can I place my trust?”

In My Life

Over the last couple years, I’ve taken time to ask myself why I believe my best relationships are…my best relationships. What I realized is that while we share common interests, favorite hobbies, and stimulating points of conversation, the deepest place of connection is a result of our shared values.

Completely unlike the Barone’s.

Like-valued people are like-minded people, but like-minded people aren’t necessarily like-valued people. On the flip side, I believe that when two people share core values, the relationship can still flourish even when shared interests (or being like-minded) are different.

The Benefits of Shared Values

Be encouraged. As you reframe the priority of your relationships to seek those with whom you share commonality in core values, you’ll discover:

  1. Relationships that are founded upon shared values stand the test of adversity and disagreement. Relationships on any level require intentionality and commitment, especially when adversity strikes. Disagreements, misunderstandings, and all-out bad days will happen. But shared values in the context of the relationship create a healthy foundation of mutuality that will stand the test of time.
  1. Relationships that are founded upon shared values create the opportunity for greater intimacy and more robust, meaningful communication. You know the people who can read you like a book; those with whom you can sit across a dinner table and not feel pressured to fill space with chatter? The people in whom you have permission to simply be yourself? Those are the best relationships and they flourish because of qualities far greater than common interests.
  1. Relationships that are founded upon shared values provide time-tested, reciprocal support during crisis, loss, and disappointment. Shared values often point to similarities in character. When life hits you hard, relationships that have stood the test of time and have been nurtured by meaningful communication and intimacy will rise to the surface and come alongside you through every battering wave.

Take stock in your relationships. Who are the people with whom you share core values? Nurture them. Develop them. Believe in them. Prioritize them.

You won’t regret it.