Thursday, January 28, 2010

Be satisfied with sacrifice

Every day I receive in my inbox a small reflection on marriage, called Growthtrac Marriage Minute.  It offers short thoughts about marriage that help me think about marriage in a new way or applicable tips that I can try in my own marriage to improve our relationship.

The other day, I received one titled "Five Forms of Dedication That Help Keep a Marriage Growing."  The five ways were:
• Desiring the long term
• The priority of relationship
• We-ness
• Satisfaction with sacrifice
• Alternative monitoring (choosing not to dwell on tempting alternatives)

The one that struck me most was the idea of "satisfaction with sacrifice."

Many of us have been told that marriage is all about sacrifice and that we need to strive for selfless love in our relationships -- not only in marriage but in all of our relationships.  To hear it stated in such a way doesn't sound very fun.  The selfishness that we all possess rises up and we try to protect ourselves from hurt and yearning for those things that we want, when we want it, where we want it and how we want it.  We remember all those times we have given to others and long for others to serve us.

Now, don't get me wrong -- there's nothing wrong with being in a reciprocal relationship where there's give and take.  As a matter of fact, it's a very healthy model of relationship that I hope many of us have with others.  BUT the idea of being satisfied with sacrifice is really quite beautiful.  We are all familiar with the concept of sacrifice, but to add in that we should try to be satisfied with it is quite epic to me.

How does this play into marriage?  In so many ways.  There are opportunities every day to sacrifice for the one you love, from chores to decisions to usual interactions and more.  The key part in this concept, however, is to not dwell on that sacrifice that you made.  This means not even bringing it up to your spouse if he isn't aware of it or may never notice it.  We all have that innate desire to say, look what I did for you!  Praise me!  Tell me how good I am!  I know I do.  But the idea of satisfaction with sacrifice is to accept within that your praise comes from knowing you have done something to put your spouse's needs above your own, which is the purest form of love.  God sees it, and that's usually the only thing that matters.

I definitely believe this takes practice and we may never become perfect at it since we're all selfish human beings, but it certainly is a fabulous, healthy and enriching way to improve your marriage.  Something worth reflecting upon.

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