Marriage Shouldn’t Involve Self-Sacrifice

When you first read self-sacrifice, you may think immediately of all the things you do for each other that you do not want to do, such as taking out the trash, caring for each other when sick, or spending extra time and money to help each other in a pinch. All of these forms of self-sacrifice are quite noble and acceptable. They enrich your marriage. When you give of your time and money to help each other, this increases your bond, if it is done appropriately.

So what is appropriate? The line you need to draw for yourself is one that protects your identity. One of the most common complaints from married couples is that they no longer feel like themselves. They say that they feel they have lost themselves in the marriage. Some men and women feel apprehension about getting married in the first place due to the fear of this outcome.

In marriage, it is stereotypically the woman who says she has lost her identity. She complains that she gives all of her time and effort to pleasing her husband and children and has not time or energy left over for her own needs. This may be the truth. However, often times, this is a self-imposed condition. Rather than asking for assistance from the husband or setting clear boundaries with the kids to give herself time to herself, she allows others’ needs to constantly take precedence over her own.

Some men also feel that they have given up who they are for their marriage. They may feel that they work all the time in order for their wives and children to have a comfortable life and have not time or energy left over for them. The same solution is available for them as for the women. They can set different boundaries and request specific time for their own interests.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to lose yourself to have a successful marriage. Compromise, of course, is a necessary aspect of any partnership. But when you begin to compromise who you are, then you are treading on dangerous ground.

How can you tell if you are sacrificing too much? The first thing to do is to think about any resentment you may hold toward your spouse. For example, if you resent him or her for any joint decisions you made recently, you may want to look at the root of your resentment. Often, you are angry because you sacrificed your own opinions, tastes, beliefs, or comfort in order to please your partner.

Again, some self-sacrifice in marriage is necessary. But when you are sacrificing your own identity, you will inevitably destroy the relationship unless you change your behavior. Once you begin to allow someone else to make your decisions for you, to tell you what you can and cannot do, or what you should and should not think, you set yourself up for resentment. This kind of resentment eats at the foundation of your marriage, eroding trust. And we all know that without trust, there is no marriage. So be open and honest about what you need to feel healthy emotionally and mentally.



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