Sacrificing In A Relationship – When, What And How Much?

Sacrificing in a relationship

The word ‘sacrifice’ implies that a person is giving up something he or she values for something or someone else. Every relationship requires give and take – but that’s where the catch is! Sacrificing in a relationship might seem like a big thing, but in this article, we will explore what it really implies.

Compromise has to be reciprocal, while sacrifice is a one-way thing. In fact, compromise is a much healthier term. There are crucial differences between sacrifice and compromise.

  • Compromise is mutual whereas sacrifice is usually one-sided
  • Compromise has the goal to solve a relationship problem. Sacrifices sometimes might have a cynical goal, to make the other partner feel obligated to sacrifice/make them feel inferior in any way.
  • Sacrifice may cause the person sacrificing to feel resentful. In the case of a healthy compromise, both parties feel that they have been treated fairly

How Important Is Sacrifice In A Relationship?

In a loving relationship, one partner sacrificing something important implies support for the other partner. But this support, if taken too far, can lead to the partner (who is sacrificing) being taken for granted. It may even lead the other partner to have unrealistic expectations from their partner. This occurs if one person happens to be sacrificing too much and too often and will result in an issue in your relationship. In most dynamics, people tend not to do it enough.

At times gender roles, social norms and our experiences with our parents can color our attitude towards sacrificing in a relationship. If you’re looking to find an answer to “how much sacrifice is too much in a relationship? ” just think about the regressive idea of the ‘perfect woman’, one who cooks, cleans, earns, takes care of the babies all at the same time.

A study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people with low self-esteem who are sacrificing in a relationship often regret the sacrifice. They are likely to experience “negative mood, greater stress and lower life satisfaction”. They can experience depression, regret and resentment.

Honestly, anyone would regret sacrificing their free time to hear their partner rant about the same thing for the fourth time that week. How many more times can you say “Hmm” and “Yeah” before you can’t take it anymore? Sacrificing your happiness for the one you love will lead you to a dark place since it’ll damage your mental health.

So, is sacrifice important in a relationship? While the short answer is yes, you’ve got to ask yourself the following questions first before you make that sacrifice in a relationship:

  • Are you fully committed to the relationship?
  • Do you feel your partner will also sacrifice something for you?
  • Does your partner recognize and value your sacrifice?
  • What is motivating you to make that sacrifice?
  • Is it possible to negotiate and arrive at a compromise?

Related Reading: 12 Things You Should Never Compromise On In A Relationship

Small And Big Sacrifices

There are myriad examples of sacrifice in a relationship. Spouses sacrifice for their partners; parents for their children, siblings for each other – sacrifice is common. For instance, if your partner gets a job in another city you may have to uproot yourself and move too.

Again, when children are very young, many women have to sacrifice their career aspirations and take a break in order to care for their children.

Sacrifice is a personal choice. I know that when I stopped working for four years when my children were very young, it was not a good period of my life. My frustration made me a ‘less than good’ parent. The fact that I was cooped up at home made me feel isolated. I missed the office atmosphere.

I became a much happier person, and consequently a better mother, once I started working regularly when my younger one was four years old.

But this is a very subjective experience. Some women might find it extremely satisfying to take a break from work, or even become stay-at-home moms, to nurture their children.

Sacrificing in a relationship can range from small things like watching a television show your spouse wants to watch to taking care of his parents, despite differences with them. Declining a promotion because of home responsibilities is a big sacrifice.

Deciding on a particular item of furniture to buy because it is her choice, or inviting his friends over for dinner despite being tired, are comparatively smaller sacrifices. Do relationships require sacrifices? If you’re looking to build and maintain a harmonious relationship, sacrificing in a relationship is part and parcel of the process.

What You Should Never Sacrifice In A Relationship

Changing yourself beyond a point for a partner is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t be yourself with the person you love, and who loves you, you lose your identity and with it goes your happiness. Such relationships, where a partner sacrifices his or her own identity, are bound to go downhill. Knowing how much sacrifice is too much in a relationship will help you determine the difference between being used and being in a loving relationship.

In The Fountainhead, the author Ayn Rand, who did not believe in altruism, is more vociferous. “Self-sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed.”

English singer and songwriter Zayn Malik has put it this way: “Life is funny. Things change, people change, but you will always be you, so stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone.”

Here’s what you should never be sacrificing in a relationship.

1. Freedom

The most basic of human rights, freedom cannot be compromised in a relationship. Of course, you have to ensure that your freedom does not infringe on your partner’s freedom.

Or, that you do not hurt him/her in some way. A good example is flirting at a party. While flirting is an exercise in personal freedom, when it becomes inappropriate, it may hurt your partner. Financial freedom is also vital. This enables you to make decisions without feeling obligated to anyone or bound in any way.

No, your partner isn’t infringing on your freedom if they want you to accompany them to the mall every so often. The same goes for them wanting to talk to you over the phone, while you’d just rather watch a movie and fall asleep on the sofa. Sacrificing in a relationship isn’t always about the biggest gestures, it can be as simple as a trip to the mall.

2. Your passions

If you are passionate about your job and need to give it up because of family compulsions, it is an unwarranted sacrifice. You will never be happy making this sacrifice. Moreover, your partner should not expect you to do so. Instead, you should sit together and arrive at a healthy compromise.

When you learn the difference between sacrifice and compromise in a relationship, you’ll be able to do away with any unrealistic expectations your partner might have for you. Just because they don’t want you to, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pursuing your dreams. Unless your dream results in you blowing all your money on cryptocurrencies, of course. Maybe listen to your partner about that one!

Related Reading: 10 Things To Do When You Are Drifting Apart In Your Relationship

3. Your family and friends

In a marriage or any other relationship, sometimes you devote a lot of energy and time to your partner. This may not give you sufficient time for friends and family.

Never sacrifice these other relationships, not only because these are people who care for you and whom you care for, but because they are a valuable support system. Sacrificing in a relationship should never mean letting go of your friends.

4. Values

It is pointless sacrificing your values as it will leave you with a sense of discomfort and a loss of sense of self. As such if you have a life partner who shares the same values then your life gets into a happy rhythm.

But if he thinks that accepting bribes is okay and you feel it is the most unscrupulous thing to do, then you will be unhappy in the marriage. If you have to accept your partner’s ways while having to shun your own value system, then you are sacrificing your core beliefs for the relationship and it is not worth it.

5. Self-esteem or dignity

Never sacrifice your self-esteem by constantly seeking validation in a relationship. If you have cooked a special dish, be happy that you have done something creative for the people you love.

Don’t expect compliments. Of course, enjoy them if they come your way! But there are people who expect to be told in 15 different ways by their family members that they are the greatest cook. That’s not who you should be.

6. Spiritual beliefs

Both partners may have different spiritual beliefs. One may be a practicing Hindu, the other a Buddhist. Or, one may be a believer in a higher power, while the other may be an atheist or agnostic.

This is an area where all are free to believe what they want to. There can be no compromise on this front. You have to accept that religious beliefs don’t change easily. Sacrificing in a relationship should not mean giving up your religious beliefs in any way.

7. Peace of mind and mental health

don't sacrifice freedom
You should never sacrifice your freedom

These are linked. A toxic relationship that takes a toll on your mental health is simply not worth it. You should not be sacrificing either your mental health or sense of peace for anyone.

If your partner is controlling, dominating and even gaslights you, then you should always stand up for yourself. Never let anyone play with your mental health. Always take a stand.

Related Reading: 13 Signs Of A Controlling Woman To Watch Out For

Are you sacrificing too much in the relationship?

Sometimes you might be sacrificing in the relationship without even realizing that you are doing that constantly. Let me give you an example. Have you ever thought about why you never win in an argument with a partner? That is because you end up sacrificing your viewpoint for the sake of peace. But is that right?

You probably know the answer already. You’ll end up festering inside constantly and this will be detrimental to your mental health. When you end up sacrificing too much in a relationship then you might feel the following things.

  • You are the one giving in and sacrificing more often
  • You feel the constant burden of making your partner happy
  • You don’t feel happy, instead you feel angry and resentful
  • There is a power equation in the relationship where you are the one always stepping down
  • Your partner never sacrifices anything, it’s always you

What You May Have To Sacrifice In A Relationship

Sacrificing in a relationship isn’t all bad. If you have the right motivation to sacrifice, it does make you feel good. For instance, if you gave up that last bit of fish and chips you were about to eat because your son wanted more, you feel happy.

Or if you gave up a work tour to take care of your ailing partner to nurse them back to health, you feel satisfied that you could be there for them when they needed you the most. To create fulfilling relationships we have to sacrifice certain things. To make sure you don’t go about sacrificing too much in a relationship while trying to do the right thing, we’ve listed out the acceptable sacrifices you can make:

1. Time and energy

You will have to give your partner your time and energy. This may involve sacrificing your ‘alone time’, but that’s pretty much inevitable. Perhaps, you can achieve a balance after a discussion with your partner. If you explain to him or her that you need ‘me time’ to recharge and refresh yourself, I am sure your partner will understand.

Moreover he/she may have the same need. As for energy, one partner may be more energetic than the other. But it’s ok. There is no need for the less energetic partner to struggle to keep pace. If you think you’re sacrificing your happiness for the one you love by letting go of the occasional lazy Sunday, you need to start doing more fun things with your partner. It’s okay, tell them if you hate the couple’s yoga sessions!

2. Privacy

Any intimate relationship involves some loss of privacy. It may be sharing a room or it may be answering queries on who you are speaking to on the phone. However, if boundaries in a relationship can be agreed upon, it will help to establish when lines are being crossed.

Also, you could ensure that you give each other enough space when needed. At the same time, you have to sacrifice the privacy that you enjoyed as a single person. But in this case, sacrificing in a relationship makes you happy.

3. Your personal goal

sacrifice is good
You need to sacrifice to deepen your love

Yes, sometimes one partner has to sacrifice their own goal. He or she may have to decline a promotion because of child care responsibilities. As long as both partners are willing to give up something, perhaps at different points in time, the relationship will thrive.

4. Money

This can be a tricky one. Many relationships collapse due to disagreements on the subject of money. It is a matter that has to be handled delicately. If not, it can create a rift – one that can’t be dealt with easily.

When you are in a relationship, you have to realize that no one can be right all the time. You have to concede defeat on occasions as long as you are convinced that the other person’s point of view is more reasonable. You might sacrifice your shopping needs because your partner wants to save for the future. That’s fine. But you cannot tolerate financial infidelity.

Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Unconditional Love In A Relationship

5. Self-absorption

You have to sacrifice, in fact, shed, your self-absorption. If your life is only about ‘I, me and myself’, you won’t be able to sustain a close relationship. Both partners have to take an interest in each other’s activities and views.

You cannot be a selfish husband or a selfish wife; you have to understand the value of sacrificing in a relationship to make it work. If you cannot sacrifice, maybe you can compromise.

6. Perfectionist attitude

At times, one partner is very tidy while the other is more easy-going. You have to reach a middle ground where no one feels uncomfortable.

Finally, while close relationships may require sacrifice, it is imperative that the person sacrificing thinks through why he or she is making the sacrifice. If it is to help your partner, it can increase trust and happiness on both sides. If it is because you expect something in return (now or in the future) it may lead to problems.

Also, check whether you are sacrificing something just to avoid a confrontation. This may make you feel angry and resentful inside. Explore whether there is room for negotiation and compromise. And, each partner should take care of his/her own needs along with making adjustments for the other.

Can you love without sacrifice? Yes. I think you can! You can love wholeheartedly, yet seek compromise on any contentious issue rather than sacrificing.

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