Though partners in satisfying relationships tend to be similar to one another, they rarely agree on everything. Sure, not every couple has heated arguments, but everyone experiences at least smaller conflicts from time to time. Picture the following scenario: It’s a mundane Tuesday night, you and your partner have just finished warming up leftover pizza, and the two of you plop down on the couch to watch some mindless TV. (Surely this doesn’t just describe my marriage, does it?) You’ve had a long day at the office, but your favorite TV show is about to come on. But then your partner mentions that he wants to watch a different show that comes on at the same time. One option is to tell him to go to the other room to watch his stupid show, but that would mean you wouldn’t be spending any time with him. Another option is to sacrifice, whereby you give up your preferred programming for the sake of your partner’s preferred show. Whether or not you are willing to sacrifice may depend on how much self-control you have at your disposal. In other words, do you have enough willpower to make this sacrifice?
Entries in sacrifice (9)
Meet Nate and Angelica. Nate and Angelica are getting married. They’ve planned every detail of the ceremony, and checked all their reservations twice. The vows are written; the honeymoon getaway is booked. Maybe Nate daydreams about surprising Angelica on special occasions; maybe Angelica has her eye on a good preschool for their future children. Their future is set — or is it? What about the more mundane details of married life that are often overlooked?
Will Angelica be the one on kitchen duty, cleaning up after dinner? Will Nate be the one who picks up the kids when Angelica is working late? Will the person who earns less income contribute to the household in other ways, even if they both work 40 hours a week? Often, couples decide these matters based on convenience or preference, not according to a marital master-plan of equal give-and-take. But precisely because the average couple doesn’t analyze the costs and benefits of every chore undertaken, an unfair division of labor may create resentment over time. For example, Angelica may realize Nate only takes their cats for shots once a year, whereas she has to change their kitty litter every day.
When is the right time to get married? My boyfriend and I are currently in college and have been dating for 3 years. He talks about getting married and starting a life, but when is it too soon? Don't get me wrong, I love him and it's not that I don't want to be with him, but our career paths couldn't be more different, and in order for us to be together we would have to move, meaning one of us would have to give up everything (most likely me). He wants to become a physicist and has to attend many more years of schooling, while I'm going to graduate with a B.A in AD/PR. Either we get married and he'll be in school studying, or we wait until he gets his Ph.D. and is settled down.
Making a big life decision like this is not easy, and I am happy to see that you are looking at this practically rather than just romantically. When trying to decide when the “right” time is to get married, it might be useful to first consider what risk factors there are for divorce. Researchers have identified a number of socio-demographic factors associated with divorce that have remained stable over time, such as marrying too young, co-habitation before marriage, not having a religious affiliation, living in an urban area, and growing up in a household where there were not two continuously married parents.1 Other marital stressors also play an important role in predicting divorce, such as financial strains and career demands.
In the 22nd installment of Sage’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Casey Totenhagen (University of Arizona) dicusses recent research on how the daily sacrifices we make in relationships (e.g., doing the dishes, picking up a partner from work) influence how happy and committed we are in our relationships.
Totenhagen explained, “In a relationship the partners are interdependent, and what I’m feeling and getting out of the relationship really depends on how my partner is treating me. These sacrifices are opportunities that we have to show our partners that we care about them, that we’re invested in the relationship, and that we want and expect the relationship to continue.”
Giving and receiving care is an essential part of relationships. But how do you know just how giving you should be or how much you should expect others to give in return? Research indicates that there are two common types of relationships people engage in to ensure balanced giving and receiving.
Q: My wife and I met three years ago. We have one child together, but we both have children from a previous marriage. Since getting married 2 years ago, my wife has been trying to get me to quit all the activities I have enjoyed my whole life. It started with asking me to cut down baseball in the summer from the weekends to one day a week. I was OK with that. Then it was hunting...she wanted me to give up the only weekend that I hunt all year long for deer opening. Last month she asked me to pick between baseball or bowling. I like bowling because I am in a league with my father, brother and friends. I told her to pick which she wants me to do. She said no. She wanted me to pick. I decided to stay doing baseball once a week, and have gave up all other activities.
And now she wants me to quit all of them. I feel she is working me little by little to get me to do what she wants. The interests my wife and I have are very different from one another. She doesn’t like the things I do (baseball, hunting, bowling), but I don’t mind her doing the things she enjoys. I just feel when she is asking me to give up all the things I enjoy, she is taking away the time I need to unwind.
Am I being selfish by wanting to play baseball one day out of each weekend during the summer, and bowl (during the work week not weekends) in one league during the winter, and either bow or rifle hunt for deer (her choice)?
A: My answer is no, you are not being selfish. Taking part in activities that you have enjoyed your whole life with people you care about (e.g., friends, family) is important for your psychological and physical health.1 Self-expansion theory proposes that people have a basic need to expand their sense of self, and this can be done one of two ways: through novel or exciting activities like sports or intellectual pursuits, or by including another person into your own self-concept, such as seeing your wife as part of you.
"Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love." This famous quotation says it all: Making sacrifices, whether big or small, is a crucial ingredient of successful relationships. Unfortunately, making sacrifices for our partners or our relationships doesn’t always feel good. Compromising one’s goals and desires can sometimes bring about anger, sadness, and resentment. People cope with these emotions in different ways: While some people openly express their feelings, others choose to hide their feelings from their partners. Who’s right? What is the better way to cope with not-so-good feelings that can come with making a sacrifice?
Michael submitted the following question:
I am in a relationship with this guy and things are feeling rocky right now. I feel like we argue pretty frequently. I try to argue with I-statements and repeat his concerns with active listening. I am trying to communicate but the concerns that I bring up are small to him.
In Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, Bella offers to give up her human life to become a vampire in order be with her 104-year-old vampire boyfriend, Edward, forever. This ultimate sacrifice, driven by “true love,” is only one of many types of sacrifices that people make on an everyday basis for their intimate relationships. Relationship scientists refer to these behaviors as “willingness to sacrifice," and they can run the gamut from minor and short term inconveniences, such as having to go to your partner’s work party on Friday night when you would rather stay home and watch The Bachelor on TV, to much more substantial or long-term sacrifices, such as jumping in front of a train to save your partner’s life.