December 30, 2021

Determining your relationship values

Couple Holding Each Others Hands


Do you know your relationship values? Are they the same as your partner’s relationship values? This is the fourth episode of a series on Getting Ready for Marriage. ​In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Polinsky discusses the importance of knowing your personal values, your relationship values, and how to determine your relationship values together with your partner. 



  • What are values?
  • How to know your personal values.
  • How to use an ACT Matrix to determine your relationship values. 


1. Why I am doing this series on Getting Ready for Marriage:

It’s wedding season now and I had a wedding photographer reach out to me asking me to provide some tips for couples getting married. I created an entire checklist for her with the things I think are foundational for getting ready for marriage and starting off your marriage on the right foot. If you want the checklist, you can download it here!

2. My Relationship Fail Moment:

Last thanksgiving, my husband and I were on a walk and came across an unmanned hot chocolate stand.  My husband joked about stealing a marshmallow from the hot chocolate stand, and later that night I yelled at him and tell him how he wasn’t a good man because he would consider stealing a marshmallow. This was a relationship fail on my part because I had let my anger build up instead of talking about the issue when it was happening. Looking back now, we see it as a funny story. But at the time, I was anger that he would even THINK about the possibility of stealing a marshmallow. My level of anger was  related to my personal values, and thinking that my husband and I did not share the same values. More on this in a little bit…

Values are  about what you want to stand for in life” — Elizabeth Polinsky 

3. What are Personal Values: 

Values are qualities of being that are important for who you are and what you want to stand for in life. For example, you could value curiosity, adventure, honesty, service, community, etc.  For me, with the marshmallows, my personal values of honesty and respect were at play. Being respectful of other’s property is important to  me even if it is a marshmallow! So when my husband had the joke about stealing the marshmallow, it signaled to me that he didn’t value respect the same way I did–and that was very frustrating. 

In relationships it is helpful to know your personal values as well as your partner’s personal values because differences in values can be a source of conflict in relationships. If you can both identify your personal values and discuss them together, then maybe you can avoid marshmallow incident like what we had!

It’s important to know that your core values typically don’t change over you life,  although  the priority might change over your life. For example, a value of service may always be important, but if you have young children then caring for them may be a higher priority than service while they are very young. It doesn’t mean that the value of service isn’t still a core value though. 

If you aren’t sure what your personal values are, you can check out this list of personal values from Dr. Russ Harris as well as the youtube video below to help you figure out your personal life values. 

4. Figuring out your relationship values.

In relationships it is important to be a team. It is important to decide together as a team what you want your family to stand for, what your your collective family core values will be. This may be different or similar to your personal core values. Examples of family values could be loyalty, financial stability, etc.

There is something called an ACT Matrix that comes from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help you determine your values. I go over how to use the ACT Matrix for your relationship in the YouTube Video below:

You can Download the worksheet here!! This worksheet has the example worksheet I did in the youtube video, as well as a blank worksheet for you and your partner to fill out together!In the worksheet, you and your partner together ask yourselves these 5 questions: 

  1. What is most important to us as we get married for how we want to set the stage for our marriage together?
  2. If we are living in alignment with the goals and values identified in Question 1, what would a video camera pick up on us doing together?
  3. What sorts thoughts and emotions might show up for either one of us that would get in the way of us moving towards the answers from Questions 1 & 2?
  4. What would a camera catch us doing if we were really in the grip of those thoughts and emotions from Question 3? How workable would those behaviors be in both the short-term and the long-term for our relationship?
  5. Given all of this from Questions 1-4, what else do we need to know to remain aware, compassionate, and effective in our relationship?

Action Steps: Download the worksheet for determining your relationship values here!

Liz’s Useful Links: 

Podcast Sponsor: The Adventure Challenge  is a mysterious scratch off book of 50 unique and creative adventures. You don’t know what you’re doing until you scratch it off! The goal is to inspire connection in your relationships through adventures and fun.  There are 3 editions–one for couples, one for families, and one for friends. If you are feeling in a rut in your relationships  and in need of adventure, this is a perfect book to get out outside of your normal routine and into fun experiences aimed at bringing you closer together. To get 15% off the adventure challenge, go to or enter “CONNECT15”.

Thanks for Listening!


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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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