Susan in Married at First Sight doesn’t know why she was matched with Sean. Susan likes to volunteer to save bears in Asia. Sean wears a belt buckle he won at the rodeo.
One key detail has been missing from the reality tv series about what tore them apart-Sean’s love of the rodeo-in particular calf roping. You can read more about the cruel practice in this article about the reality tv couple here.
“I don’t understand how someone could use animals for entertainment like that. I’m never going to accept that cowboy image.”
I have a lot of clients that spoke to me at length about this TV reality show during its airing and how the topics coming up were similar to things in their own life.
Despite my misgivings I could see how the program did bring up issues that were important to couples or dating singles -although I was concerned with how it was all handled.
I can see how the concept fires up the imagination but the lack of ethics of the show and the strange references to “science” and decisions and actions of the “experts” were umm… certainly interesting and worrying to me as a relationship counsellor and clinical sex therapist.
Isn’t it interesting how things are edited to give a sanitised view of things in reality tv?
Value Systems as Deal Breakers
Anyway let’s get right into the meat of the issue this article brings up. Susan has compassion for animals and fights to save them. Sean loves rodeos and “calf roping” and other areas where animals are used for entertainment. Hmm.
As Susan says, that was the deal breaker for her. Despite these reasons for her choosing to break up with him never being shown on the TV program, the clashing value systems were the reason she didn’t continue the relationship.
You can have many differing interests to your partner and that’s fine and healthy, however opposing value systems can be more challenging. Value systems are the foundation to who we are, why we do what we do, our boundaries, how we react to things and who we choose to spend time with.
Value systems don’t have to be exactly the same in a couple but they do need to match up or at least slightly overlap somehow.
If someone is psuhing up against our values you can feel uncomfortable and pained.
Have you ever been with someone with completely opposing value systems? What happened?
Differing value systems are a big point of conflict for couples and good communication can see things through.
However if the value system is that jarringly different even the best communication skills can’t necessarily see it through.
I wrote about a couple where one of them was an animal rights activist vegan and the other was a hunter and a fisher for fun not food in a feature for Ciao earlier this year and their various struggles.
In sessions where I see couples that are struggling with very different value systems and all the strain that goes along with that they can feel stuck. To help them move forward I get them to fill out a common values assessment.
Values can include everything from wanting children or not, religious beliefs, how you see animals and how your diet relates to that, political beliefs, environmental beliefs, moral responsibilities, loyalty, commitment, education, family, caring about others, security, self direction, seeking pleasure, avoiding harm to others, personal success in life, understanding self and others, independence in thought and action, stability of self, belongingness in groups..
If it’s not in the deal breaker arena couples can learn to live with differing values -I’ve had a couple where one was a hardcore atheist and the other was deeply spiritual. This caused conflict but it wasn’t a deal breaker for them and was more a matter of practically negotiating their different issues and respecting and accepting their differing views. On the days she went to her spiritual circle he went to hang out with his aetheist friends.
Exploring what their value systems meant to each of them and how that influenced their different behaviours and reactions shed a lot of light onto various everyday conflicts and resentments that were occuring.
I think a lot of reality tv can be appalling in its moral bankruptcy, more exploitative than a social experiment and manipulatively constructed but I’m glad this topic was brought to light.
What did you think?
What are your core values? If you’re single how important is it to be with someone who has the same core values as you?
If you’re in a relationship how similar are your core values and what problems do the differences cause? Please let me know in the comments below and don’t hesitate to book a session with me via skype or in person if you and your partner are stuck on issues relating to your vaules.