“Without sacrifice there is no resurrection. Nothing grows and blooms save by giving. All you try to save in yourself wastes and perishes.” – Andre’ Gide
Sacrifice is one of those words that makes you sound almost like a martyr. It can be that way in a relationship if only one does the sacrificing. The idea is that both parties sacrifice for the sake of the ‘other.’ When true love is the base it can still seem, or feel like a ‘sacrifice.’ It is also the degree or type of ‘sacrifice’ that is involved that counts.
Now the combination of say, bacon and eggs, is a good duo. However, while the chicken makes a contribution, the pig really sacrifices! Think of the last thing you did to be or show ‘caring’ for someone you love. Then think of anything that you consider a sacrifice that you did for that person. Are they one and the same?
Did you receive pleasure from pleasing your partner? Did you resent what you did for them? Do you repeat the action? Do you grit your teeth and clench your fist emotionally to do what you do for them?
Is it a REAL sacrifice?
Now doing something against your judgment or nature can truly be a sacrifice. Making
someone you care about happy as a result may guide you and get you through. If, however, you grow to resent your actions more and more you may turn out to be the proverbial ‘sacrificial lamb’ and you can be taken advantage of easily. That won’t allow the love to blossom; it will thwart it.
What may be a ‘sacrifice’ for one may be a duty for another, a bad habit, or just the nature of the relationship.
The story of the ‘Gift of the Magi’ is a good one to illustrate the point.
He sells his watch to buy her a comb for her hair and she cuts and sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch. How fabulous is that? What we do for one another is usually out of pure love and wanting to do whatever.
Now, I have had clients tell me all sorts of things they have done; usually with a lot of embarrassment over whatever. One older couple gingerly told me they were asked to leave a restaurant for ‘behaving’ in an ‘inappropriate’ manner! Great! He was pleased with himself while she wanted to die of shame. She couldn’t even bear to ride by the place for years after that.
There can be any sort of sacrifice made in behalf of another. We think of parents sacrificing much for the benefit of their children. It comes easily in most of these situations. We think of sacrifices people have made for the pride of country or freedom.
That comes without much emotional pain.
We think of any number of such instances where the ‘sacrifice’ is willingly and even joyfully given.
The problem occurs when a partnership feels one- sided.
If you are the one always doing the giving, even when it rubs you the wrong way, then it is an area that needs talking about and hopefully adjusting.
If the pattern has been deeply ingrained over time it may be extremely difficult to give up. Even if one relationship ends it can be repeated with a new face.
Sometimes in an extreme form it may be almost like giving up your ‘self’ in the service of another. That is certainly not a good thing. It has to do with your sense of self-worth too.
Sometimes a partner is so controlling that the other one feels like it is a demand or that they may lose the partner if they don’t comply. Then they are definitely taken advantage of.
So, when we talk about sacrifice it should be a joint effort and yes, one may do more of it than the other but the other one joins in the effort.
When it all works well and love is strong it may not even seem like a sacrifice and it becomes a way of giving that works well for both parties.
My pleasure then is from pleasing you!
A good relationship doesn’t keep ‘score’ as it just IS.
“Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power… I experience myself as overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous.” – Erich Fromm