Healthy relationships require a lot of give and take. You have to be willing to sacrifice and compromise in order for there to be a healthy blend of 2 becoming 1. ‘You’ and ‘Me’ have to become an ‘Us’.

Sacrifice is a willing choice you make in order to invest in the relationship without having strings attached. Sacrifice isn’t really a sacrifice if you become resentful and expect something back. It is a willing act of love that shows you care about what your loved one needs. It isn’t demanding to be the center of attention.

I’ve seen people all over this spectrum in my practice. Some people don’t bend and refuse to sacrifice, while others sacrifice so much they lose themselves. A healthy relationship requires that BOTH people find the balance of sacrifice even when it’s hard. Even when the other person doesn’t ‘deserve it’. Even if it doesn’t always feel fair.

When both people in the relationship practice this act of love, it displays affection, partnership, and a willingness to not always be in the driver seat. As you look for balance in sacrifice in relationships, here are some do’s and don’ts that can help.

Do sacrifice your selfishness; Don’t sacrifice your needs.

The key to this is understanding that you can’t be in a healthy relationship and be completely selfish, but it is also not healthy to give up everything that you need either. My husband may have big plans for a weekend that I’m not be totally excited about, but because it is important to him, I participate. At the same time, I will also say that I need to make sure I carve out time for some things I need to get done that are important to me.

Do sacrifice always getting your way; Don’t sacrifice having a voice.

You don’t always get what you want. But that doesn’t mean you don’t speak up about your desires. If you lose your voice in your relationship, your needs won’t get met. It is important to speak up in order to compromise and for your partner to know what you need. Sacrifice does not mean you become a doormat.

Do sacrifice your time; Don’t sacrifice self-care.

I have to be considerate of others time when in a healthy relationship. That means I may need to sacrifice my time. As a therapist, I listen and help others with their problems all day long. In the evening as my husband and I connect, we often download our day and process things we need to. Sometimes I am exhausted, but I choose to engage in order to benefit the relationship. It’s not healthy for me to give my full attention to my clients needs and not my husband’s. I willingly give this time because I know it is valuable. At the same time, sometimes I have to speak up when I’m crashing and need to get to bed.

Do sacrifice always being right; Don’t sacrifice healthy conflict.

This can be hard for people. Part of compromise is understanding that oftentimes you are both ‘right’ from your own perspective. You have to sacrifice that your version of ‘right’ isn’t the other person’s version of right. In order to understand this, you need to come off your soap box and see your partner’s thoughts and feelings on an issue. It requires empathy and healthy conflict skills.

Do sacrifice my fairy tale; Don’t sacrifice healthy expectations.

Many walk into relationships with the idea that they will have a fairy tale of happily every after. That idea dies pretty quickly! Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have expectations, but it does mean you have to make sure they are realistic. Do you set your partner up for failure by not sharing your expectations and needs? Make sure to set expectations that have a possibility of being met. Too high of standards will end with you being disappointed, and your partner feeling like a failure.

I hope you see that sacrifice in relationships does not mean you lose your identity and sit back to be taken advantage of. A healthy relationship finds a blend between setting boundaries and sacrificing for each other. It is a dance of give and take.

What is something that is hard to sacrifice in your relationship?