Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!



Chapter 6

Getting our Values on Track

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D., CCMHC NCC, DCMHS-T

MWO 6 Roster

6-1 A Value Conflict Assessment Inventory

6-2 What Do We Value?

6-3 Determining Our Priorities

6-4 How They Affect Us

6-5 How are We Value-Programmed?

6-6 Follow-up Work-Out Plans for Getting Our Values On Track

MWO 6 Prologue


• • • Joshua Durite is a corporate man, devoted to the pursuit of excellence in his career. Lois Durite is the "volunteer's volunteer," committed to the betterment of mankind in her church and civic club activities. They do not share each other's concerns about the welfare and future directions of society. They resent each other's viewpoints and have little tolerance for each other's opinions• • •


Identifying values and beliefs involved in your relationship is the goal of the exercises in this chapter. Tolerance and openness to the other’s opinions, beliefs and values is often lacking in troubled relationships. Taking the time to clarify individual and mutually held values is a way of ensuring an orientation to a successful Marriage Work-Out.

6-1 Values Conflict Assessment Inventory


When you two first became partners in marriage, you chose definitions of each of your roles within the relationship. Today your definitions for your roles might be different from when you married. The following are 30 beliefs about the role of spouses in marriage. Read each belief. For each statement you believed in before you got married, put a check on the line under the Then column. Now go back and reread the beliefs and for each statement you presently believe put a check on the line under the Now column. Do this task independently first. Score your ratings and then compare your results with your partner.




Spouse Role Belief Checklist



1. The husband should earn the living



2. The wife should not work outside the home



3. Both husband and wife should be wage earners



4. The husband should manage the money since he earns it



5. The wife should manage the money since she has more time



6 The one who is best at managing money should take care of paying the bills and budgeting the money



7. When people are angry, they should say so and also say what it is that is angering them



8. When people are angry, it is better to keep quiet and cool down



9. Angry words by partners undermine a love relationship



10. Sometimes it is good to do things independently from one another



11. Couples should always try to do things together



12. It is not the man's place to vacuum, iron, clean the bathroom, or do the laundry



13. The husband should take care of the yard and the wife should take care of the house and cooking



14. Household responsibilities should be shared equally and assigned intentionally



15. A home that is untidy is comfortable



16. A home should be neat and clean all or most of the time



17. Personal appearance around the house isn't very important



18. It is important that couples live their religious faith in a similar way



19. It doesn't matter if one person in a marriage is less interested in religion than the other.



20. It is better not to go to church. Too much institutional religion is hypocritical



21. Families should go to church together



22. It is important to contribute regularly to the church



23. Marriage without children can be as satisfying as one with children



24. It is good for a couple to get away from the children occasionally in order to have a day or two just for themselves



25. Fathers should do as much parenting as mothers



26. Husbands should not be with their wives during child delivery



27. Families should have a schedule and members should keep to the schedule



28. Members of' a family should ordinarily tell others where they are going and when they will return



29. Marriage partners should belong to the same political party



30. It doesn't matter if one marital partner is a "liberal" and the other is a "conservative" in social and political outlook


To obtain your score on this inventory, add up the number of .beliefs for which you have only one check in either the Now or Then column. Do not count a belief if you have a check under both columns for it.


My individual score is: _____

My Partner’s individual score is: _____


Your score is the number of spouse role beliefs which you have changed since getting married. The ratings are as follows for both scores:


Individual Score





You are experiencing little turmoil of conflicting values or beliefs personally within yourself.



You personally have gone through a lot of changes since you first married. You have challenged your initial beliefs and values and experienced some conflict inside yourself in the process.

9 or more


You are still identifyingwithin yourself areas of previous belief or values which are in conflict with your current reality and beliefs and values. You are experiencing some internal tension this conflict creates.


Suggested Discussion Questions

1. How have our beliefs about spouse roles differed from when we first dated?


2. How have these beliefs interfered in our marital health?


3. What do these beliefs say about our values?


4. How have our religion(s) affected our values?


5. How have our values about marriage been influenced by the education we have received?


6. What impact on our marriage is the internal value conflict we are currently experiencing?


7. How important is it that our values be simil iar to one another's?  


8. How do we handle our different bel ief s and values in our marriage?


9. How comfortable are we in discussions about our values or beliefs and the impact they have on our married life?


10. How have our family backgrounds affected our values and beliefs around marriage?


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise

6-2 What Do We Value?


Read the list below. This is not a semantics exercise, so feel free to cross out the descriptive words in parentheses that have no meaning to your personal definition of the term capitalized. Insert others if you wish.  Check each item's level of importance to you at this time and place in your life. After completing the ratings, pick out and list in the spaces provided the five (5) items which are most important to you, and the five (5) items that are least important to you. Compare your top five (5) and bottom five (5) lists with your partner.



Not too Important



Very Important

Adventure: Exploration, risks, danger, doing something new and/or untried




Beauty: In the arts and nature and being able to share it with others




Emotional Well Being: Ability to recognize and handle inner conflicts




Ethical Life: Responsible. living towards self and others, personal honor, integrity




Family Happiness: Mutual caring among family members




Forgiveness: Being willing to pardon others, bearing no grudges




Honesty: Being frank and genuinely yourself with everyone




Law and Order: Respect for authority and property of others




Love: Warmth, caring, giving and receiving of respect and affection




Meaningful Work: Sense of purpose, doing something that is relevant




Money: Enough of money for things you need and want in life




Personal Freedom: Independence, making one’s own choices




Personal Power: Having influence and authority over others




Physical Appearance: Attractiveness, neat, clean, well groomed`




Pleasure: Excitement, satisfaction, fun, joy, exhilaration




Recognition: Being important, being well-liked, being accepted




Religion: Religious belief, relationship with God (Higher Power), meaning of life




Service: Devotion to the interests of others though volunteer activities or financial donations




Skill: Being good at doing something important to me and//or to others




Wisdom: Mature understanding, insight, application of knowledge






My Top Five Values

My Bottom Five Values











My Partner’s Top Five Values

My Partner’s Bottom Five Values












Suggested Discussion Questions


1. How do my Top Five Values compare with your Top Five Values?


2. If any of myTop Five Values are on your Bottom Five Values, what implications for conflict are there?


3. How do we conduct our lives based on our Top Five Values?


4. Is there something on your list which surprised me?  If yes; in what ways?


5. What value areas on this inventory do we most frequently have disagreements over?

1.                                                                     6.

2.                                                                     7.

3.                                                                     8.

4.                                                                     9.

5.                                                                     10.


Why do we disagree so frequently over these? Are any of these on your or my Top Five or Bottom Five Values lists? What can we do to reduce our differences in these areas?


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise

6-3 Defining Our Priorities


There are thirty-four items listed below. Rank order them from 1 to 34 in terms of their importance to you. If they are highly important they are something which you want to obtain or achieve. If they are low on your list they would be something not desirable for you. Once you complete this, compare your rankings with your spouse's list and record them.





1. To rid the world of prejudice



2. To serve the sick and needy



3. To become a famous figure (author, politician, businessman, etc.)



4. A project that will triple our family's income this year



5. A year of daily massage and the world's finest cuisine from the world's best chef



6. To know the meaning of life



7. A vaccine to make all persons incapable of lying



8. The opportunity to set my own working conditions



9. To be the richest person in the world



10. The Presidency of the United States



11. To love and be loved by someone very special. to me



12. A house overlooking the most beautiful view in the world, in which I may keep for one year, 40 of my favorite works of art



13. To be considered as the most attractive person in our community



14. To live to 100 years of age with no illness



15. To know all about me, and know for certain who I am



16. A center of learning with all the learning aides available for private use



17. An audience with the spiritual leader, either past or present, which I most admire



18. To rid the world of unfairness



19. To donate $1 million to my favorite charity



20. To be voted Outstanding Person of the Year and praised in every newspaper in the country.



21. To master the profession of my choice



22. A year with nothing to do but enjoy myself, with all needs and desires automatically met



23. For one year to be the wisest person in the world, and to make only right decisions



24. To sneak ''honesty serum" into every water supply in the world



25. To do my thing, my way, without any hassling



26. A  room full of hundred dollar bills



27. To control the destinies of 500,000 people



28. To live in a world where all people gave and received love



29. Unlimited travel and tickets to attend any concert, play, opera, or ballet for one year



30. A total makeover: new hair style, all new wardrobe from the designer of my choice, and two weeks at a beauty spa



31. Membership in a great health club



32. Anti-hangup pill



33. My own ''know-it-all" computer, for any and all facts I might need to make the right decision in all aspects of my life



34. To spend six months with the greatest religious figure of my faith, past or present.




Complete the recording of both of your rank orderings. Once you have done that go back and determine which values you hold highest. Each of the 34 items represent a value, use the key below to do this.



Values Represented

1 & 18


2 & 19


3 & 20


4 & 21


5 & 22


6 & 23


7 & 24


8 & 25


9 & 26

Economic Well-Being

10 & 27


11 & 28


12 & 29


13 & 30

Physical Attractiveness

14 & 31

Physical Well Being

15 & 32

Emotional Well Being

16 & 33


17 & 34



List the five (5) values you and your partner hold highest as reflected by both of your five (5) highest priorities you selected. Then list the five values you and your partner hold lowest as reflected by both of your five lowest priorities you both selected.

My Top Five Highest Values

My Partner’s Highest Values











My Five Lowest Values

My Partner’s lowest Values












Next compare your own and your partner’s five Highest and five Lowest on this exercise with the Top Five and Bottom Five on the previous "What Do We Value"  exercise,  6-2.

1. How we do our choices on this exercise reflect our stated Top Five and Bottom Five values we professed to hold on the previous exercise?


2. What significance do I see in the differences in our responses between the two exercises?


3. How did my lists on this exercise compare to yours?


4. If we were forced to come up with the Top Ten (10) ranked items on which we both agree, they would be

1.                                                                     6.

2.                                                                     7.

3.                                                                     8.

4.                                                                     9.

5.                                                                     10.

5. How do our individually held values block our couple communications?


6. How do our value priorities influence our life together for the good and/or for the bad?


7. What steps can we take to address our value differences?


8. How do our mutually held values affect our couple relationship with other couples?


9. What pressure do we as a couple feel to conform to the values of our friends?


10. Why do we tend to play down the importance of values in our married life?


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise

6-4 How They Affect Us


Rate the following situations as to how strong your feelings are about them. Then compare your results with your partner's. Check the column for the number of the value of your emotional response most appropriate for you, for each item



Very Strong



I could care less

1. The lady who gave out apples to Halloween trick or treaters with razor blades imbedded in them.





2. The Halloween pranksters who propped a bottle of dog urine against your door and rang the bell-so that when you opened the door, it spilled all over your new rug





3. The male college freshmen English teacher   who thought that the freshmen female students  should be introduced to sex, has made it his  mission to seduce as many of them as possible





4. The girl 's high school physical education teacher who was concerned about the students   getting pregnant and therefore gave out birth   control pills





5. The mayor who talked integration in his speeches but belonged to a segregated club





6. The president of an industry who made sure during the day his furnaces were carefully regulated so that very little visible pollution showed from the smoke stacks, but during the evening when it wouldn't show, he had his furnace run full blast





7. The two 19 year old boys whose idea of fun on a Saturday night was to go downtown and  find a  "queer" and punch him up





8. The teenagers who at 3:00 a.m. had a drag race with the squealing of tires in front of your house. Then they came back around the block and repeated the procedure





9. The high school student who was a "pot missionary." He tried to convince others to use pot because he sincerely thought that it was the way to go, He was not interested in making money, in fact, in many cases, he gave it away, because he thought it was really good for people





10. The first grade teacher who had a youngster who appeared in class for the third time without his homework done. She was so perturbed that she smacked him across the face





11. The father who walked into his teenage son's room and caught him masturbating. He became very angry and really chewed out the  son and took away the use of the car, etc.





12. The doctor who made $600,000 per year and declared $300,000 on her income tax





13. The neighbor who reported this doctor to the IRS





14. A married couple looked for excitement joined a mate swapping club





15. The girls' high school physical education teacher who was concerned about population growth and vocally  supported  legalized abortion





16. A financially successful bachelor in his thirties found American women too aggressive and independent; therefore, he took a trip to Europe to find a sweet old-fashioned girl





17. John Smith had it with his neighbors. He proceeded to build a very high fence which isolated him from the neighborhood





18. The politician who had his television tapes edited differently in different parts of the country so that the real meaning was distorted





19. The high school math teacher who believed in shedding hypocrisy and joined a local nudist colony





20. The school board member who was in favor of busing students for integration purposes but joined a segregated private club





21. A mother who scalded her baby but the child was treated 72 hours later at a hospital





22. A rapist was killed by the victim and the victim was jailed three years for manslaughter





23. A school counselor assisted any black student get an abortion who requested one





24. A criminally insane man was given an experimental drug at the court's direction





25. A priest was relieved of his parish duties because he allowed female priests to preach and give communion





26. The plug was pulled from a life-saving respirator of a mentally handicapped Mexican child who had been on life support for three years





27. A known child molester in your town had just been acquitted for the third time for molesting a child due to insufficient evidence





28. A special education teacher placed students who were behavior problems in a coffin as punishment





29. A policeman shot a nine year old child in the back as the child was running away from him





30. A famous actor announces that he is dying from AIDS






Now that you have rated these thirty situations, choose the top five situations that you feel most strongly about and list them in rank order.


My Ranking of the Top Five Situations






My Partner’s Ranking of the Top Five Situations







Suggested Discussion Questions


1. What do both of our top five have in common?


2. What values are most involved in our top five situations?


3. What does this say about your or my primary value orientation?

4. Would our lists have been different five years ago?


5. Would our lists have been different ten years ago?


6. Was my list similar to what you expected it to be?


7. How strongly do we both feel about our values?


8. Why is it easy to recognize our values when the situations are so exaggerated?


9. How easy is it to practice our common held value beliefs and convictions in real life?


10. How willing are we to openly speak up when we witness something which is offensive to our belief systems?


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise

6-5 How are We Value Programmed?


Sociologists have held to the belief in what is called “values programming.” Values they say are programmed into each generation while they grow up. In this value programming we can see the basis for many of our current reactions to our family, friends, jobs, world events, etc. This belief posits four categories of values programming.  They are:

  • Traditionalists: grew up in or were value programmed in the values of the 1920’s, 1930's and 1940's
  • In-Betweeners: grew up in or were value programmed in the values of the late 1940’s and early1950's
  • Challengers: people most influenced by the values of the mid 1950's through the early 1970's
  • Synthesizers: most influenced by the values emerging from the 1970's to present

The following are descriptors of these four value programming orientations. Read the descriptors and check only those which describe you best. Then check those that best describe your partner.





1. One must give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay



2. Open acceptance of an authority figure's direction and authority



3. Institutions are more important than the people who comprise the institution



4. Places importance in people working together and being a member of a group and seeks approval of such groups.



5. Holds to the belief that "The Family that Prays Together Stays Together"



6. Fathers are the central authority figures in families, they are the primary breadwinner and the family is financially dependent on him.



7. Holds to the belief in a prescribed way for people to relate in social situations using much formality and etiquette.   



8. Holds a restrained and regimented approach to life reinforced by religious dogma, social taboos, lack of sex education and austere work ethic.



9. Values a social order with everybody in her/his place but "looks the other way" at bias and prejudice.



10. Dominated by the need to work hard and build a better life with a need for stability and reluctant to alter the status quo.



11. Purchases a number of "answer" books of the self-help type: how to find yourself, how to be happy, etc.



12. Accepts the importance of group efforts but also feels that individual rights and needs must be taken into account.



13. Recognizes authority, but seeks participation in the decision making process.



14. Raises questions about decisions and directions, not in direct defiance, but rather to examine the rationale.



15. Believes "rules" have a basis in reason, but may defy strict dress codes, in an expression of individuality within boundaries.



16. Swings between formality and informality in all aspects of life.



17. Struggles between personal responsibility and personal freedom.



18. Frequently struggles with sexual freedom.



19. Attempts to understand the values of those who are younger.



20. Shifts between conformity on the job to individual expression in personal life.



21. Uses embarrassing questions like "why" and demands better answers than "That's the way we have always done it," or "We have never done that before."



22. Places emphasis on personal psychological satisfaction emphasizing equality, happiness, fulfillment, creativity and communication.



23. Holds to the belief in self as a unique individual.



24. Demands acceptance of self - based on own merit rather than depending on membership in a group.



25. Does not accept conformity to group demands, standards, rules and regulations unless such conformity coincides with personal goals.



26. Frequently doesn't care what other people think.



27. Displays little conformity in dress, behavior, and leisure.



28. Pays little allegiance to the company, the organization, or the nation.



29. Rejects the notion of "sticking it out" and very accepting of the concept of divorce and re-marriage.



30. Expects and demands participation in family and job decisions so as to achieve emotional security, a feeling good about self, and fun and pleasure in what is being done.



31. Tends to be skeptical of others' belief systems.



32. Concerned but relatively pessimistic about future so tends to be conservative in approach.



33. Recognizes the reality of shrinking resources, rising energy costs and out-of­ control inflation and sees the world’s resources declining in a quantitative sense.



34. Although has hope that quality of life will improve, sees signals that a new "restricted" life style is inevitable.



35. Recognizes that contemporary problems are complex and that simplistic solutions and techniques are not the answer.



36. Believes that the system is part of the problem since it created the current situation.



37. Sees a need to use the best of old techniques and then use the best of new techniques and apply them to all demands of today's world.



38. Although fashionable, reverts to more conservative modes of dress and grooming.



39. Adaptable and accepts change as a norm.



40. Willing to provide a solidifying and mediated solution to value conflicts of older generations.




So what is your Value Programming? The following key is to be used to determine where you and your spouse lie in the Four Value Coding Categories.


Item Numbers

Value Programming Code










The Value Programming category which has the most checks is your primary code. The one with the next most checks is your secondary code.


My Primary Value Programming: _______________

My Secondary Value Programming: _______________

My Spouse’s Primary Value Programming is: _______________

My Spouse’s Secondary Value Programming is: _______________


Suggested Discussion Questions


1. Do we have different value programming? If yes, how does this affect our marital relationship?


2. How would it feel to be living with a partner who rejected my value programming?


3. What can we do to ensure that we accept our value programming as an asset in our relationship?


4. How are we (or will we be) value programming our children?


5. How does our value programming explain how we problem solve in our relationship?


6. How does our value programming influence how we settle conflicts in our relationship?


7. How does our value programming influence how we communicate in our relationship?


8. How does our value programming influence how we as a couple relate to other couples?


9. How does my value programming influence how I approach my work?


10. How does our value programming influence how we approach our marriage?


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise

6-6 Valuing You


The following are a series of Marriage Work-Out topics which should assist you to get to the core values binding you two together. Spend at least fifteen (15) minutes on each topic taking turns to respond.


1. Describe five things your partner does well and which you admire a lot.


2. Describe your ''psychological" home which is the place where you feel "most" at home with yourself and others.


3. Describe three events which you believe were the "3 Biggest Successes" in your life.


4. Describe the three people who had the most influence on your life.


5. Describe what you would do if you only had one year to live.


6. Describe five things about which you are most proud.


7. Write a "Memorial" article about yourself. Include in it what you most want people to remember about you after you die. Be sure to include in the article what you think key people in your life would say after you are gone. After writing the article read it to your partner.


8. Describe to your partner what you would miss or regret most if your partner were to die unexpectedly.


9. Describe what you are currently doing to get your "home" in order to prepare for your own death.


10. Prepare a will and plans for your own funeral and share them with your partner.


In your Journal Record Your Personal Notes on this Exercise


6-7 Follow-up Work-Out Plans for Getting Our Values on Track

As a result of our exercises, discussions, and efforts in this chapter of our Marriage Work-Out on Values, we have come up with this action plan to continue and follow up the health enhancing what we have just completed.

I. Our Value Needs

The following are needs which we still have to address to fully achieve full health in the valuing aspect of our marital relationship:







II. Strategic Steps towards Growth in Our Values

The following are specific steps we will take to address our needs to improve handling our values:












III. Personal Responsibility Taking

The following are the things I will specifically do to ensure that we as a couple continue to grow in dealing with our values:












IV. Evaluation of Action Plan for Our Values

We will know we have achieved our goal to grow in handling our values by the following measurable behavioral changes:












We agree to the above Marriage Work-Out plan on our values.


_________________________                ___________________________

My signature                                            My partner's signature


_________________________                ____________________________

Date                                                          Date