“Love is sacrifice.” It’s the kind of relationship wisdom you hear in power ballads and read on Pinterest and see embroidered on throw pillows. But is it actually true? Is sacrificing your happiness for another person part of being in love?
Here’s one take on it: Sometimes, love requires sacrifice. But on the whole, love isn’t so much a sacrifice as it is a compromise.
No matter how compatible two people are or how much they have in common, they’re never going to agree 100% with each other all the time. They might agree 99.9% of the time, but there are inevitably going to be disagreements. Life isn’t always going to go smoothly. Sometimes, things out of your control come along. It’s when you disagree or hit a cosmic bump in the road that the need for sacrifices and compromises arises.
In its most literal sense, the phrase “love is sacrifice” suggests that you have to give things up if you want to be with the one you love. That certainly is true sometimes. For example, if your partner’s parent falls ill, they might want to move back home to take care of them or have them move in with you. While it’s not an easy sacrifice to make, it is one that supports your partner and your relationship in a positive way.
But love doesn’t always have to be a sacrifice. If your partner’s actions suggest that you should sacrifice your mental health, emotional wellbeing, integrity, or safety, you can say no or even walk away. Those sacrifices do not benefit you or your relationship, and you don’t have to make them.
More often, love is a compromise. While sacrifices are often one-sided, compromises are usually more equal. Sacrifices are a result of big life changes; compromises represent the day-to-day decisions that make a relationship run smoothly. For example, if you and your partner have children, you might compromise on carpool duty. Maybe you adjust your morning schedule to start your day 30 minutes later so you can drop them off at school. To make it a compromise, your partner might adjust their afternoon schedule to leave work 30 minutes early to pick them up from school.
Of course, every relationship and set of circumstances is different. When faced with a disagreement or a bump in the road, it’s up to you to decide what’s worth sacrificing, what’s worth compromising on, and what’s worth fighting for. Sometimes, the decision will be easy; others, not so much. The most important things are that both of you make sacrifices and compromises equally, and that you do them with respect for the other person and your relationship. That’s true love.