Ester Perel’s Advice on Value Conflicts With Your Partner

Every relationship has these kinds of fights and conflicts that are around values. They come out in different situations. Some of the examples she mentioned in her video:

  • A couple fighting about whether to get the Covid vaccine or not. The wife insisted on her husband getting vaccinated, the husband refused.
  • To open the relationship or not.
  • Politics (of course)
  • Religion (E.g. if my partner is Muslim but I am not: Do I still keep pork in the fridge? If my partner is religious and I’m not, do I partake in some of their important ceremonies?)
  • What’s the right way to discipline kids?
  • And so on. This is an endless list.

Next time you find yourself in a heated fight about an issue like this, where an important value is at the center of the conflict, watch this video and take some notes. Perel shares some practical advice on how to not just diffuse value conflicts in relationships, but also come to a deeper sense of appreciation for your partner.

There’s a lot of potential for explosive escalation around value conflicts, and while the advice Perel shares will require you to do some real inner work (there’s no simple formula she lays out), it will help you you to the core of the issue and strengthen the bond between you and your partner.

Here’s the summarized version of the advice she shared in the related blog post:

  • On a day to day basis, prioritize common ground.
  • In the heat of the moment, take a break. Cool down on your own.
  • When you’re ready to talk, prioritize curiosity and compassion. 
  • Ask questions, such as: how did you come to think this way?
  • Listen for the underlying fears: what is your loved one afraid to lose? Why is this personal for them?
  • Share with them your own fears. Tell them how you came to think this way, what you are afraid to lose, and why this is personal for you.
  • Ask each other: what does a just and safe world look like to you?
  • Ask: can we disagree on this and still respect each other? Or do we need to take space?

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