God's Value System

Chapter 2: All conflict in relationship is conflict over value system


Whenever you experience a disagreement with someone, it is always a disagreement over one of your values. That is, you see the matter one way, and the other person sees it another way. It may be something trivial or something extremely important to you, but all conflict in relationship is conflict over value system.

That which we agree on draws us closer together, whereas disagreement drives us apart. The more important something is to you--the more you value it--the greater the conflict you will have when someone disagrees with you or obstructs your plans. This conflict over value system is the destructive factor in all relationships.

When a person first feels “in love,” one aspect of the emotion flows from strong beliefs about the other person's value system. We tend to believe that the other person values the same things we do. However, as the relationship progresses, we begin to realize that we do not share all the values we first anticipated. It is during these times of disappointment or conflict that we discover the real values of one another. As the illusion of common values breaks down, so do some of the positive emotions.

Although we want our relationships only to produce happiness, we know that they do not. Conflict in relationship produces fear that we will be rejected because of our values. Therefore, we begin to hide our true desires from others, which produces feelings of loneliness even in the midst of relationship.

We often desire to freely express who we really are to another person--even if only one other person. The expression of who we are is a full revelation of our deepest values. Not only do we want to be open and honest about who we are and what we desire, we also want to be accepted as we are. Although we know there are parts of us that need improvement, we do not want to be criticized as we seek to change our lives to match our highest virtues. We imagine the perfect relationship to be one where we can openly share the deepest desires of our hearts and yet never experience rejection for what we are.

Conflict in relationship is conflict over value system and we experience it frequently. Every quarrel or fight is a battle over whose value will prevail. It may be as trivial as deciding which movie to watch, or as severe as quitting your job because your boss treats you badly.

You even experience conflict with those you love whenever their desires do not match yours. As long as you both agree, you do not have conflict because you are living a shared value system. But each time you disagree, the magnitude of the dispute is related to how important the current issue is to you. The level of conflict is directly proportional to the significance each of you place on the value over which you disagree.

Experiencing emotions that you do not enjoy (such as sadness or anger) is an indication that your values are not being fulfilled. You feel negative emotion when you are not getting what you want and are not having things done your way. When people or situations do not meet your expectations, you experience your values as an expression of your emotions. The stronger you sense these negative feelings, the more significant the values underlying them are to you.

It is important to note that emotions are only a response to whether or not your values are being accomplished. Many people attempt to stop being angry without understanding and dealing with its source: the value conflict between them and another person. Until the real issue is dealt with, feelings of anger will not be kept in check.

When you prolong conflict in relationship, it demonstrates that what you value is more important to you than the relationship. You would rather have your own way than have the relationship progress and improve; and, if you cannot have your own way, then you are willing to let the relationship degrade. People argue because they have different values from each other, and unless they view the relationship as more important than the subject of conflict, they will be more willing to dissolve it rather than resolve their differences in value system.

For example, couples often disagree about money and how it should be earned, spent, or saved. Each idea they have flows from something deep within. It may be because they want the pleasure of spending it or the security of saving it. Therefore, when a couple disagrees about money, they need to be able to understand and express the values driving their desires and feelings. If they cannot come to an agreement on values, they need to at least agree that their relationship is more important to them than their choice in how to spend money. Hopefully, from the greater value they place on relationship will come the means by which to resolve their lesser values concerning money.

If we truly desire to have good relationships, we need to resolve conflicts by changing our values. Some of your values will need to change as well as some of the other person's. We will not agree on how important everything in life is, but to grow closer we must agree on the values we deem most significant.

We must also feel acceptance when we express our values. If we cannot share the deepest values of our hearts and still be accepted, then the relationship will never bring us the fulfillment we desire. We will continue to have conflict with each other because, without openness, we will not understand the values that are really producing the conflict.

Lying is destructive to relationship because lying is pretending to share a common value system without actually agreeing on it. It wants the benefits of relationship without truly sharing the values that produce relationship. People often lie in order to prevent conflict, but they only produce more once their dishonesty and hypocrisy are discovered.

Good relationships can only be formed by sharing your true values. To be accepted and liked for values that you are only pretending to possess is not real relationship, and it will never bring deep fulfillment. If values you hold are interfering with your relationships, you need to choose whether you would rather improve your relationships or keep your current values.

Continue reading:
Chapter 3: Three areas of desire that affect your values