Have you ever heard the saying that ‘in order to have a successful marriage you must make sacrifices’? How about ‘In order to appease the other partner you must make sacrifices’. Or ‘to make your partner happy sometimes you must sacrifice what makes you happy in order for the other person to be happy’.
This kind of sounds like relationship requirements of the dark ages. Back when the man controlled the relationship and the woman was there to appease the man. A relationship that really wasn’t a relationship – it could be considered more of an ownership. ‘You will honor and obey your man until death do you part’, pretty heavy commitment!
Is that really what it takes to have a successful relationship?
I had the great honor of being the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for my sister’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. My sister and her husband are a great couple. They haven’t always had it easy, but they have worked hard to become very successful. When I say very successful I don’t mean they have become financially wealthy. They have become wealthy in the true sense. They have a solid relationship, great career and business, strong spirituality and they have three wonderful children. They lead a very balanced life and it comes through in their relationship.
Following the traditional speeches, toasts and kind words it was time for me to close the ‘ceremonies’ so we could get to the dancing and celebrating part of the evening.
In my closing remarks I couldn’t resist but ask the 200 plus attendees to answer this question by a show of hands. The question – ‘In order to have a successful marriage do you need to make sacrifices?’ Roughly 75% to 80% of the people put up their hands in agreement. Yes you MUST make sacrifices.
I found this very interesting. Especially after listening to the speeches and the accolades that everyone made about the couple that we were there to celebrate with. None of the speeches talked about the sacrifices that they had to make in order to have a successful marriage.
Everyone spoke about the value of the friendship the couple possessed. How they worked together to raise such a lovely family. How proud their parents would be of them for what they have accomplished. How they have accomplished so much in the past 25 years together. And yet after all these comments the attendees felt very strongly that you have to make sacrifices in order to have a strong relationship.
Earlier that day I saw a poster that was completed by the Catechism class in the Church that we celebrated a renewal of their marriage vows. A Catechism class is made up of young children. Across the top of of the poster it said ‘What is Love?’. Then it had a few points below that defined Love in the minds of those children. Some of the points were – Caring, Sharing, Helping, Fondness, Adoring and Respect.
Interesting that the word sacrifice was not on their list of how to define love. Is it not love that is needed to have a strong relationship? And if it is love, and if sacrifice doesn’t define love, then why do we feel that we must sacrifice to have a strong relationship. Marriage is a Sacrament – sacrifice is not a Sacrament.
There will always be give and take – give and take is required to reach a common goal. Give more and take less. A strong relationship is 100/100. Divorce is 50/50.
The common goal should be a strong loving relationship. Not a relationship where you must sacrifice your core beliefs just to make the other person happy. Nor should you demand that your partner make sacrifices so that you can gain what you want out of the relationship, in order to fulfill your selfish desires.
A relationship that is built on how the Catechism class defines love will always be stronger than the relationship that is built on sacrifices.