What is the difference between compromising and sacrificing? That is a question that married couples need to explore if they wish to have a long, happy marriage. By definition, compromising means to give up one thing in exchange for concession of something from the other side. Sacrifice, on the other hand, is to completely let go of something considered valuable to an individual, in the name of duty. While both can be noble, and certainly necessary, many marriages are teetering over the imbalance in the two.
My wife and I both love to go out to eat. It is something that we enjoy together, however, we have different favorites. She loves Mexican, and I love Italian. We often find ourselves deciding which to get, and we compromise by taking turns. That is healthy for a marriage and it represents a give and take in the relationship. Both of us walk away with an equal sense of self, and personal integrity intact.
Now, what if a wife had joined a book club, and attended this club every Wednesday night? Her husband, who wanted her to be home so she could fix his supper like usual, demanded that she sacrifice the book club. Is this a healthy way to deal with this situation? Of course not, and it will most certainly lead to a bit of anger, and resentment.
Sacrifice is never a healthy addition to a relationship, as it always accompanies loss of self. Many would say that this is not true, as sometimes we have to sacrifice that which we care about for the greater good. At that point, we must look at what is truly important. For example, lets say I am wanting to go to graduate school, but my wife becomes ill and can’t work. It is not a sacrifice for me to skip graduate school to take care of my wife. It is integrity of principles, and accommodation. If I were to put the label of “sacrifice”, on the above situation, then my marriage would be a sad one indeed.
Compromise is an essential and integral part of any marriage, while sacrifice is very unfriendly to a relationship. Sacrifice leads to a slow break down of our own recognition of wants and needs. It builds resentment even in the truly genuine. We begin to tilt the relationship towards only one side, and the other side suffers. I have also heard the argument that sacrifice is okay when both sides sacrifice equally. That serves only to prove my point. If both sides are sacrificing equally, then it is not a sacrifice at all. That would be a compromise.
Next time you are unsure of whether you are compromising in your relationship enough, ask yourself if it is a two way situation. Is there give and take? Are you both contributing solutions to the problem? If you say yes, and you are not compromising your virtue or integrity, then chances are you are in a healthy relationship in this area.