Just because your sacrifice was betrayed,
Didn’t mean it wasn’t worth it:
What we give for love is always more important
Than any regrets we might have over who we have given it to.
“Sacrifice” is an important part of relationships. Since none of us has the time, resources, or energy to do everything we might desire to do, life is always a series of tradeoffs. With families, the number of choices becomes greater and the need for tradeoffs more acute.
Where problems typically arise is that we view relationships through the lens of power dynamics: or, said more simply, everybody wants to have their own way. We all know what it is like to be inconvenienced in a social situation by that one person who stubbornly wants everyone else to do things their way. But we are all born like that. We want what we want.
Morality, however, has long taught, around the world, the importance of sacrifice. To give up what we want for the good of our family, or village, or country, or even the world.
It’s not that sacrifice is good for its own sake – doing that is just pointless – but for the sake of others.
Too often, however, people in relationships come to see sacrifice as a sort of a contest, as to which one of them has given up the most, sacrificed the deepest – essentially, who has been the biggest martyr.
If we are making sacrifices to try to win a contest, we probably won’t win, and we will almost certainly sacrifice the wrong things.
When a marriage or long-term relationship ends, the temptation is to view whatever was put into the relationship as time wasted. That is the natural human reaction: it is also, very often, wrong.
We cannot know going into a relationship how things will go. None of us can really see the future, and no matter how confidently people pretend that they knew all along how others’ lives would turn out, they are almost certainly being disingenuous. People change, people grow, some people fight with circumstance and lose, and others just get lost along the way. Physical, mental, emotional – all of the forces working at these levels are complex, individual, and subject to rapid change. We just don’t know what the future holds for anybody.
We just don’t know.
So, since we can’t know if a relationship will blossom or, ultimately, wilt, that doesn’t mean we should be upset for tending the plant as long as we could.
Or for grieving it as long as we need to.