Sacrifice is an essential element of a strong marriage. We give up the lesser important for the most important.

I have been grappling with sacrifice for the last few weeks. In consultation and prayer we decided that my husband needed to work towards being self-employed. In part to accomplish fulfilling his passion, I have chosen to help set up his home office, take on managing our finances and tax preparation, and help with creating his business. Website design, contracts, copyright issues, and more have become my world.

It has required sacrifice to accomplish this goal, which is about jointly creating our future together. We are viewing this process like the sacrifice a seed must make to become a mighty tree. What a challenge this has been when my work related to serving relationships and marriage is definitely not “less important”! We decided that this temporary sacrifice was vital, however.

Sacrifice in marriage and relationships is often about making efforts for the betterment of the other person. Often these choices are tiny and minor, such as giving the other person the best piece of food. Maybe you spend time together watching a television show only one of you likes, or you do a task that is usually the other’s responsibility. Sometimes, however, the sacrifice is life-altering, such as when it is important to take care of the other through a major illness. I am watching friends do this now following her diagnosis of brain cancer.

Sacrifice involves setting aside our insistent inner self that wants to be first and the focus of attention. It doesn’t mean that we become invisible or insignificant. We don’t give up our true selves. What I notice, in fact, is that when the motive is pure and the intent noble, our minds, hearts, and souls grow and glow brighter.

I’m remembering a talk that I heard Scott Stanley, a marriage researcher, give on the topic of sacrifice a few years ago. He defined sacrifice as an action (not just talk), whereby one person freely chooses to give up something for the other without resentment. It is essentially choosing to give up other choices for the benefit of your partner. Commitment with relationships and marriage cannot occur without this choice. Commitment leads to sacrificial behavior, which leads to a strong marriage with a non-competitive environment. Sacrifice bridges the conflict or gap between our own self-interest and the interest of our partner.

Scott reminded us though about balance. While couples should not keep score, they must both be engaged in sacrifice for the relationship or marriage to be healthy. You are partners in the process.

Remember to stay connected with each other no matter what is going on in your lives! “Deepening Your Marriage Connection” is available at this link:

Photo courtesy of David Niblack,