Excerpt from Chapter Six. Embracing Values: Your Own and Your Partner’s
Values arise out of past experiences, both childhood and previous relationships and marriages, so listen for the stories behind your partner’s values. Delve into your own past experiences as well. Just as you may not understand your partner’s point of view, he or she probably doesn’t understand yours. You may not clearly understand your own values either, so think of this (communication) process as a great opportunity for both of you to learn more about yourselves and each other.
I hated school. I went to a parochial school because I didn’t do well in public school, and it was awful. I barely made it through my sophomore year in college before quitting. Certainly, at 16, I never talked to my parents about homework.
Chuck had a totally different experience. School was a breeze. His parents were really involved in how he was doing in school, cheering him on. He won some kind of math prize in high school that they still talk about occasionally.
We feel differently about schoolwork, that’s for sure. But I understand why he’s so vigilant about her homework. It’s a big part of what made him feel good about himself as a teenager and he wants her to share in that, I guess.
— VALERIE, THIRTY-SIX, STEPCOUPLING FOR TWO YEARS
My husband was raised in a formal family where propriety is quite important. My backround was more casual; we were more spontaneous and had fewer codes of behavior. At first, I didn’t understand his and his children’s strict adherence to manners at the expense of self-expression. Now, I understand and appreciate these rules for showing respect.
— SHARON, FIFTY-SIX, STEPCOUPLING FOR TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS
Successful stepcouples identify the areas where their values conflict. Healthy stepcouples articulate differences and similarities; unhealthy stepcouples point blaming fingers.
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