Everyone knows that marriage is a compromise. It makes sense, right? If you get everything you want in your marriage, it usually means that your spouse has to give up what they want. So as a good spouse you don’t want to be that selfish partner who makes too many demands. You want your spouse to be happy. So you make sure to make whatever efforts you can to accommodate them. But there’s only one problem. This isn’t helping your marriage! In fact, despite your best efforts, your self-sacrificing is actually hurting your marriage!
Being a Self-Sacrificer is Hurting Your Marriage
The problem with being a self-sacrificer in your marriage is that despite how much you do it for the sake of helping your marriage, it actually hurts it. It means that you’re trying to accommodate for your partner by giving up what you want. When you self-sacrifice it also means you’re not getting what you want from your marriage. And because you’re half of the relationship, if you’re not happy the relationship isn’t really happy as a result. Sure, your spouse is getting along just fine by you trying to accommodate for their wants and needs but you can only do that so long before you start to feel used and even violated.
It Makes You Feel Violated
It’s very benevolent of you to put your own wants and needs aside for the sake of your marriage. But after so long of putting yourself aside you’re going to start feeling violated. Yes, marriage is a compromise. But when you bend over too far by self-sacrificing that usually means you’re being bulldozed. And if your partner is okay with you being bulldozed then they’re not really respecting you. If they’re not respecting you AND you’re feeling bulldozed you’re going to start feeling violated. Then you’ll feel resentment and anger. And that’s a slippery slope you don’t want to go down in your marriage.
You Lose Yourself
You’re a unique person and you need to nurture your uniqueness. If you put yourself aside too much you’re going to lose yourself. When you’re a self-sacrificer for the sake of your marriage, you give up things that are important to you. You don’t really participate in the hobbies you used to participate in because you just don’t have time for them. You also don’t spend as much with your friends that you used to, either because you should be spending that time with your spouse. And before you know it, you’re not really being the person you used to be. Yes, you think you’re being a good spouse by putting yourself aside but you’re actually not being either. Your children need an example of a good strong
Stand up For the Relationship You Want
Instead of being a self-sacrificer, stand up for the relationship you want. Make your wants and needs known and assert yourself to make sure that they get met. No, you don’t want to be that jerk who is forcing your partner to be someone they don’t want to be. If you are then you don’t get the purpose of standing up for yourself. Standing up for the relationship you want doesn’t require your partner to be someone different. It means that you stand up for being the person you want to be. So if you don’t want to sit around on a Saturday night while your spouse is at a work dinner, you go ahead and invite friends over for girls/guys night.. If you want to apply for that promotion at work, do it. Standing up for yourself shouldn’t be at the expense of your partner. If it is, then you’re not standing up for the right things. Or your spouse is making irrational requests (e.g. if they think you having friends over is a drag on them, they have irrational requests).
Do yourself a favor and be the person you want to be. Self-sacrificing for your marriage is no win for either partner. Remember, in marriage you either both with or you both lose.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in working with couples learn to communicate and overcome sexual difficulties.