Ideally, romantic relationships, like partnerships, should be 50/50. But in reality, your significant other can’t give 50 per cent all of the time. FILE PHOTO
Ideally, romantic relationships, like partnerships, should be 50/50. But in reality, your significant other can’t give 50 per cent all of the time.
In healthy romantic relationships, the other partner usually steps in and takes up the slack, making compromises and sacrifices necessary to keep the relationship going.
Often, these sacrifices are small daily practices – such as picking up dirty laundry after the messier partner.
But sometimes they are life changing events, like moving to another country to be together, or turning down a job offer.
Seeing as relationships are largely about sacrifice and compromise, what are the limits? When is the sacrifice you are making too much? And which are the things that one shouldn’t give up in a relationship?
Love can be a wonderful experience which may come with a great temptation to merge your life with that of your love interest.
“We all hope for forever when we enter romantic relationships but you never know when you might need your own finances,” says Esther, 32. She draws from experience.
She closed down her two small businesses when she got married six years ago to look after the two children she and her husband had from previous relationships, and the one she was expecting.
Now she is stuck in an unhappy marriage, not because she wants to be, but because she needs to be. When she looks back, Esther sees that from the start, they were not equally invested in the net result. She figures that her husband must have felt threatened by her independence, and she went along because she didn’t want to fight about it.
“Before giving up your self-sufficiency, think: Does one of you want it more? At the end of the day, remember that your credit score is yours to live with,” she counsels.
It is hard to just toss out something that has been a huge part of your life but Julia, a financial analyst, did just that when she converted to her husband’s religious denomination two years ago because he demanded it. She was not comfortable with some of their religious beliefs, and felt like she was getting the short end of the stick.
“A compromise should be enough,” she says. “Aren’t there married couples who go to different churches or support different political leaders but live peacefully respecting each other’s faiths and beliefs?” she asks.
When it comes to religion and other social issues, compromise seems like a more practical solution. But Esther Kutswa, a personal life coach, says that if your personal beliefs are in stark contrast with those of your love interest, you may want to consider rethinking the whole relationship.
For the larger part of 23 years, Hilda, a mother of four, has felt like an accessory to her husband. She set out to be a nurse but because of the late hours that come with the job, her husband felt that a business would allow her more hours with her family.
True, there are dreams that are too far-fetched or ones that we have to put on hold to grow in other areas of our lives, but it’s also a fact that our dreams and ambitions often define our happiness. Because of giving these up, Hilda has gone through her marriage feeling inauthentic – like she hasn’t been true to herself and to the man she married. This feeling sometimes becomes anger and resentment, eventually boiling over and negatively affecting the relationship anyway.
How can one know whether giving up that dream is an unhealthy sacrifice? “Ask yourself, why are you doing it? Is it to make him happy or to avoid conflict? If you answer yes to any of these, you will be less satisfied in your relationship, “says Esther Kutswa.
Four years ago, Adera, then 25, was torn between love and family. Her family was against an older man she was dating and even when her father refused a traditional wedding, she went ahead and moved in with him anyway. “There must have been some truth in the saying that says something to the effect that a mother knows best,” she says in retrospect.
She adds that had she paused to listen to why her family were concerned, she would have saved herself months of emotional and physical abuse, which they had probably seen coming. “I felt that if he’d loved me enough, he’d have tried to prove to my family that he was best for me rather than run. For this, I spent the larger part of our time together hating him for making me lose the most important things in life,” she says.
No one should have to sacrifice family for a relationship as family is who you run to when your relationship hits the rocks. Also, it’s true that true love is hard to find. The secret, when faced with such a dilemma, is figuring out whether your family is against the relationship for their own personal purposes or for your own good. Use common sense combined with instinct.
Statements to think about before making a big sacrifice for love
1.He would make a similar sacrifice for you.
2.You want the outcome of this sacrifice as much as he does.
3. You do not feel pressured at all.
4. This sacrifice will be helpful.
5. There’s reciprocation of sacrifices in your relationship.
6.The sacrifice will make your lives easier.
7. Your instincts tell you that you are doing the right thing.
If you answer ‘No’ to most of these statements, then the sacrifice you make may be counter-productive because you are likely to end up feeling less satisfied with the relationship in the long run.