One of my all-time favorite quotes is by the legendary speaker and author Zig Ziglar. He said, “It’s just as difficult to reach a destination you don’t have as it is to come back from a place you’ve never been.” In other words, how can you arrive at your preferred destination or desired outcome if you don’t know where you’re going?
The same is true for your marriage and family. In our new book, Family Shift (releasing Sept. 17), my wife, Michelle, and I share a simple 5-step framework and plan for couples and parents to stop drifting and start living with greater intention. One of the steps we discuss in the book is the importance of holding to core values in your marriage and family.
Have you ever thought long and hard about what values are important to you and your family? What are the guiding principles, priorities or qualities that you use to define or shape your marriage and family? Why are these questions so important? Because what we believe determines how we live. Our values not only drive our priorities and decisions, but they also shape the culture of our marriage and family relationships.
Chances are your beliefs and perspective toward how you see things in life were shaped and influenced by your parents, or lack thereof, growing up as a child. Whether your parents’ influence on your life was positive or negative, it’s essential to learn from both the good and the bad to determine what is most important to you.
What will be the non-negotiables that will define and shape your life, marriage, and family? Whatever you decide for them to be is what will set your marriage and family apart. How do you determine your core values or the things that are most important?
1. Determine the source of your beliefs.
Why is this so important? Because our beliefs determine our behavior. What you believe determines how you live. The question is who or what are you allowing to influence and shape your beliefs? Is it culture, friends, your parents? What about the books we read or the music we listen to? In Florida, we know firsthand the damage a category 4 or 5 hurricane can have not just on a home, but on an entire community. We’ve seen it with our own eyes. Often, the only thing that is left after a catastrophic hurricane is the foundation of the house. What will serve as the foundation of your beliefs that will withstand the storms of life?
2. Determine the values that matter most.
For example, honesty, integrity, patience, generosity, kindness, etc., are the types of virtues or values that serve as the guidelines and guardrails for the decisions we make. They impact our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors within our marriage and family. We have an entire section dedicated to this in our new book that will spark ideas on how to determine what values will be most important to you as a family.
3. Create a family-driven culture.
Culture is often hard to define, but it’s easy to see when you experience it. Culture is usually made up of many “intangible” qualities that set a restaurant, retail store, or even a company apart from all the others. Chick-fil-A, Apple, and Disney are all brands that have created a certain unique “vibe” or “culture” that serves as their “secret sauce” to how they perform. It sets them apart from all other brands. Our family culture should be no different. It’s easy to spot a couple who seems to have a close, healthy and thriving marriage. It’s also easy to spot a family that appears to have a loving, close-knit relationship with each other. What is their “secret sauce?” Usually, you will find that they have a “code” of beliefs and values that they have embraced and are committed to living out.
Remember, we must first be the “vibe” we want to be around. Our stated values aren’t as important as the values we live out. Let me encourage you to establish a value-driven culture in your marriage and home. I believe you will experience a shift that will transform your most important relationships.
Rodney Gage is a family coach, author, speaker, and the founding pastor of ReThink Life Church that meets at Lake Nona High School. His passion is to help families stop the drift and start living with greater intention. To learn more, check out familyshift.com and rethinklife.com.