Are Values Driving your Relationship?

Katie Ouzounian discusses how values need to drive the health of your law enforcement relationship.

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You may have heard me talk about how if we don’t pay attention, we can wind up off course in this lifestyle. The sacrifices that you make as an officer or as a spouse are more than just your time. We wind up slipping away from our values. Family is number one, yet there is so much time away from the family and when we are together, the impact from the job spills over and still keeps us disconnected. We want to get outdoors, but to our exhaustion, we just watch tv. We want to be adventuresome, but dealing with people sounds horrible and anxiety provoking.

I strongly believe that we have to keep our values in focus, or we wind up being people that we don’t recognize or like and being a couple that we don’t intend to be. Today, wellness coach and law enforcement spouse, Katie Ouzounian and I talk about how understanding and staying in alignment with your values, has an impact on your mental well-being.

Many times, couples, officers, or spouses, have different aspects that drive our lives and at times, we can let the job drive us instead of us being in the driver’s seat. This can impact values and wellness.

Values and Wellness

As humans, we act in ways that allow us to express our values and attain goals related to them. This is relevant to wellness because values drive what we’re doing and how we’re motivated to work towards things that we care about. Wellness isn’t just about the bubble baths and pedicures or shooting hoops and having a beer.

Wellness is more of a state of being.

Are we feeling more joy?

Do we feel satisfied?

Do you have purpose and meaning in your life?

Wellness is present in every aspect of our life, whether it be work, personal, or our relationships.

The connection between values and wellness is that values impact our wellness by how they affect our behavior in different areas. As a first responder or spouse, values can affect wellness differently and cause conflict.

Conflict in values 

A value that commonly leads first responders and helping professionals to their chosen profession is helping others.  This leads to developing habits where the priority is caring for what other people need, what the job needs from us, and not paying enough attention to our own needs. Then habits become the norm.  There can become an internal struggle of helping people resulting in external conflict with your family that needs and wants your time.  The norm of helping the public can impact the ability to say “no” to others and lead to feelings of guilt.  Those feelings of guilt often result in crossing our own boundaries and do not allow us to stay in alignment with our values, such as putting our family first.  Family members can feel victimized, not respected, and develop feelings of resentment.

Another value conflict is when you have two different values and they’re conflicting in a situation. It can be when you care about both things, or it can be just one value and how it’s playing out. Take service for example. Am I serving others? Am I serving myself? Value conflict happens when whatever you’re doing currently is meeting a need for you, but you might be able to find a way to still meet that need that’s healthier. Maybe you’re meeting a need to serve others by working, but is there another way? Can you adjust so you’re still meeting that need, but maybe you’re also serving yourself too?

When you know your values, you can look at value conflicts and see if there is something you are missing and combat the impact of conflicting values. The first step is to find out what your values are and what is important to you because that drives overall wellness.

Figuring out your values 

There are two simple solutions to finding your values: make a list and ask questions.

Make a list.

Think about what comes to mind.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

What do you really care about?

Write those things down and it will give you clues on what your values are.

If you don’t want to make your own list, find one online! Circle what resonates and what is important. IF you can, try to narrow the list down to one or two values. This can be challenging, but it provides clarity in your values and makes you more thoughtful and decisive.

Questions:

There are different questions you can ask. You can journal, you can talk about them with your partner or just ask yourself and think about it. Here are three questions from Diana Hill who specializes in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

  1. If you look back over your past week, were there parts that really stood out for you that you felt good about? What’s one thing that was a highlight for you? What does that say about what really matters to you?

  2. If you think back over the last week, what was a difficult moment that you really didn’t feel very good about and what do you think that says about what you care about?

  3. Think about someone you admire or look up to. What about them do you want to emulate? What do you really admire about them that you want more of? What does that say about you?

Once you find your values, it’s important to remember that everyone’s values are different.

It’s ok to have different values!

In the law enforcement community, we may all have similar values but everyone’s can be slightly different.

When it comes to relationships, both people don’t have to have the same values, but they need to be congruent, or you have to figure out some way to honor the other person’s values. When our values are not aligned, you will notice your reaction to situations is off. Maybe you are irritable or showing behaviors that do not support your values. It could be that your body is showing physical symptoms that it otherwise does not.

For example, think about time and how you are spending it. What are you focused on? Are they things that they’re meaningful to you? Is there spillover between the demands of being an officer and the time spent on the job? Are values not in alignment due to the culture of law enforcement? Is it temporary and just a season of transition? Once you recognize that something is not feeling right, you can reevaluate and get back on track.

This needs to be done individually and as a couple. Look at your own needs and the relationship needs. If extra money from off duty jobs is important to you, does your partner value the money? Will it benefit or harm your relationship? Figure out a plan that works for you and your spouse. This could be counseling, reading a book or taking a workshop to align values. Whatever that looks like for your relationship, it is important to find what works and assess along the way.

Assess

Make sure to stop and assess your values and wellness periodically as an officer and a spouse. Do not wait until there is a crisis on the job or at home. This can lead to burnout, and it is commonly a downfall in service professions and in relationships.  Spouses can get caught up solely serving their officer and picking up all the pieces at home without realizing the impact it is having on them. Assessing as a couple to determine what your values are in the relationship is key to finding ways to connect. Keep in mind this can mean that someone has to “give to win” for individual needs to be met at the same time.

The impact of the career and spillover into relationships can cause value conflict. Through lists, asking questions, and being aware of your body and emotions, we can learn to honor our values while still honoring others. There’s a connection between those values and how we feel in our wellness to be able to continue on in a healthy way. Take control and be in the driver’s seat of your wellness.

About Katie

Katie is the spouse of a first responder and has been married for seven years. She has a coaching practice that focuses on helping first responders and their partners, as well as healthcare workers, define, attain and sustain wellness.

To get in touch with Katie visit: Tough Roots Wellness  @toughroots

Finding your Values: Brene Brown Dare to Lead- List of Values

Dr. Diana Hill: Your Life in Process

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Are Values Driving your Relationship?

Katie Ouzounian discusses how values need to drive the health of your law enforcement relationship.

Share:

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