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Common Interests, Values and other Crucial Similarities

  • Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 10 Mar
Common Interests, Values and other Crucial Similarities

The healthiest and most successful marriages I've ever witnessed were between people who had a high level of similarity BEFORE they were married. We often hear people talk about the level of work that goes into a marriage. I have said it many times myself. In a specific way, creating a healthy marriage is about work, in a "caretaking" sense.

But these super successful couples that I'm talking about rarely mentioned "work" or forced relationship maintenance in our conversations. The tremendous similarity between them made most of this interaction effortless. Their common viewpoints and interests meant that, over the term of the relationship, few compromises had to be created. There were few opportunities for one of the partners to feel put upon or like a martyr.

In this series on similarity, I've been focusing on the 10 areas I believe new couples should investigate when considering a relationship together. In the first two installments I discussed these items:

1. Spiritual faith
2. Intelligence
3. Ambition
4.  Personal habits
5.  Social interests
6.  Parenting interests
7.  Financial management

Now we're going to complete our list.

8. Expectations about gender roles. It doesn't much matter what the two of you decide the role of the husband will be or the role of the wife, it's simply vital that the two of you agree on what those roles will be.

I have a man who works for us who does odd jobs around our house, who took the position a long time ago that he didn't want a career involvement. He had a good career going, but he thought that he would be happier staying home providing the fundamental leadership and guidance of the children. His wife has a full-fledged career. She comes home in the evening and he has cooked the meal.

It doesn't matter if it goes that way or if the man does all the bread winning and the wage earning and the woman stays home and makes sure she takes care of the children and the home. If you don't want the other person to be a full career person, get that settled before you get married.

9. Common Interests. It is so helpful for two people to have four or five interests in common. For instance, if one of you is heavily involved in politics but the other doesn't care at all about that, it seems sad that the two of you don't get together in that area. If one of you loves to travel but the other doesn't and so the one of you who wants to travel has to do so by yourself, the marriage suffers from that. If one of you is really into financial growth but the other doesn't care about the financial growth of the family at all, then you have a kind of loneliness in that area.

If the two of you can have about five interests in common, and if those interests span several categories, I promise you that it will tend to pull you together. It will tend to weave your lives into one whole. It will benefit your marriage all the years of your life.

10. Common Values. When two people place a similar emphasis on values like family life, church life, spiritual development, money conservation, or community service, those two people will have an area of similarity that will benefit their marriage. I have often counseled couples who were trying to overcome a pronounced value disparity. Of all the similarities this can be the most frustrating to consider because it is buried deep within a person's emotional makeup. It affects every decision they make but is not a singular topic of discussion like, say, ambition.

The complex nature of personal values means that determining if you and another person share values can be time consuming and challenging. But there are no shortcuts. I can promise you that your hard work in choosing someone who shares your core values will be rewarded an infinite number of times.

So, there you have them. You get those ten similarities going for your relationship and I promise you you'll have something wonderful.


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