ROSE NOLEN: The key to relationships is shared values

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:09 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 11, 2012

COLUMBIA — Most parents hope that by the time their children are ready to marry, they will choose a person who shares their social values. Actually, many young hopefuls don’t realize the value of this factor until it's too late. Many marriages have crumbled because husband and wife didn’t see things the same way.

Yet many people cite this as a reason why some arranged marriages work out well.

The need for shared values seems to be particularly true when children are involved. Parents who share the same values rarely disagree on matters related to discipline.

Occasionally, people marry people who don’t get along with the wife's or husband’s parents. Usually, this problem stems from the fact that the two do not share the same values. I once knew a husband who left home every time his mother-in-law visited. Unfortunately, the marriage was doomed almost from the beginning.

Shared values are important to all kinds of relationships. My aunt quit patronizing her beautician because she claimed the woman laughed too loudly. According to my aunt, women who laugh loudly are considered coarse.

Individuals who share the same workplace with people whose values are radically different from their own often have difficulty sharing space. A friend who found certain curse words offensive worked next to a man whose every third word was one of the words she detested. She finally quit her job after six months. Another person I knew left her job because she disliked the perfume her coworker used.

Some people are easy. When they find out they are offending another person, they stop doing it. Other people live in their own world. They couldn't care less if people don't like what they are doing or find it distasteful. Some workplaces have great human resource departments, and they actually have rules that make it easy for individuals to work together.

I think it helps when you come from a large family. One grows up learning to get along with his or her siblings. It makes it a lot easier to get along with others when you are not accustomed to having your own way all the time.

And it’s also easier to find your own kind of people. You can usually spot those who share your values without too much trouble. For example, whenever I run into someone who always has his or her head buried in a book, I can usually tell right away that I have found a friend. And once I’ve taken a peek at what he or she is reading, I’ll know for sure.

Sometimes, it comes as a surprise when you find a friend among people with whom you have nothing in common. I have found some of my favorite people that way. Usually, that’s my opportunity to learn about something new and exciting.

I prefer diverse groups and usually find I have a lot in common with them after we get to know each other. In any case, it’s like the old folks say, we usually are more alike than we are different. It’s all about values anyhow.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion Editor Elizabeth Conner.

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