What Are Good Marriage Values? Happiness Is Not One of Them!

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To Be Successful In Any Relationship, Certain Values Should Be Practiced Daily By All Those Involved.


To get a better understanding of the theme for this blog, first read my previous blog, You Get What You Tolerate.

What Makes You Happy

This generation has been misled since they were born with the common phrase of, “go and do what makes you happy.” I know many students who arrive to their first day of work with the mindset of, “here I am! Now, make me happy.” The world just does not work that way, and, frighteningly so, neither does marriage.

I think a lot of newlywed’s approach marriage the very same way. “Okay, [spouse], here I am. Now make me happy.” Marriage is a lot of work. Unless you love never-ending selfless work with little praise, you may find yourself in a place you did not expect. While happiness can be the result of good things happening to us, it is more often the result of ourselves being in a good place. That is, we are happy with our character, our integrity, and our work.

Comfort in the Growth Zone

I often use the following quote in the classroom:

“There is no comfort in the growth zone, but there is no growth in the comfort zone.”

While I am not saying you should be uncomfortable all the time with marriage, you have to understand that when you first get into a loving relationship, you are not an expert! You will find moments of challenge or crisis in your relationships. How you behave when those moments arrive is the true test of character.

What Are Good Marriage Values?

Rather than trying to focus on personal happiness in a relationship, try focusing on the following values.


Honesty is the foundation for trust. Trust is the foundation of relationships. You either build your relationship on a solid foundation, or you wait for the first storm and plan on walking away. Honesty begins with being honest with oneself—knowing one’s weaknesses and strengths. Learn to be authentic. Take industry tests like the Relate Assessment, and learn to be honest with yourself. Then, you can be honest with others.


By definition, equality means having the same status, rights, or opportunities. This does not mean everyone has to do the same thing. It means both partners need the same status and opportunities in a relationship. Spouses should be on the same level but understand that each spouse has the right to pursue their own opportunities.


Commitment is not just fidelity. Commitment in marriage is putting all of one’s energy into making the relationship successful. Have the commitment to stand against anything that would destroy your values. Love is a decision. A decision you make with every action, every day.


The key point of respect is its connection to empathy. By taking the time to uncover the emotional understanding of your partner’s position, only then do you begin to act respectfully. Respect is an action verb! You must use it to learn it.


Understanding is the first step to forgiveness. You are going to need a lot of it—and so is your partner. The quicker you being to understand your partner is not perfect, the sooner you will learn to forgive. The same goes for you, too. Understanding opens the doors to communication and healing. When you understand your partner, you will not hold a grudge and will open your mind to forgiveness.

Earn Your Values

In the book Boundaries in Marriage, Dr. Cloud states, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who focus on what they want, always desiring it and never attaining it, and those who focus on what it takes to obtain what they want. The latter do the work, delay gratification, make sacrifices, and ultimately get the rewards of their work.”

“In marriage, if you focus on what you want and desire, and you stay angry and disappointed that you are not getting it, you will remain there. But, if you focus on cultivating the garden instead of demanding fruit, then your garden will yield a huge harvest.” (Cloud & Townsend 1999)

If you learn to put your partner before yourself and focus on the true values in the marriage, you will find marriage will be less about looking for what makes you happy. It will be more about how to earn happiness in your relationship.

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This post comes from one of our guest relationship bloggers and the contents are not based in research or validated by the Relate Institute. For an in-depth analysis of values you can improve in your relationship, take the Relate Assessment today.

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