Back in secondary school I learnt about different kinds of organisms. There were unicellular and multicellular organisms each with their different characteristics. I remember quite vividly a lesson about the tapeworm. I think it is the picture of people who suffer tapeworm infestation that left a lasting impression on my mind. A tapeworm is a parasite. It resides within the host and takes without giving.
Some people are relationship tapeworms.
It takes a lot of work to make any kind of relationship work whether it is sexual or not. Like some bacteria resident in our stomach, relationships require a lot of sacrifice from both parties. More of a symbiotic thing. You give something and then take something and everyone is happy. But, how can you tell that you are making sacrifices in your relationship?
Let us take a moment to think about the word sacrifice. For there to have been a sacrifice, you must have given something up in order to please someone. For you to want to give up something, you must care enough Perhaps bible readers will recall the sacrifice that Abraham almost made in giving up his son, a most cherished only son, because God asked him to.
That action by Abraham is seen as a sacrifice because he was willing to give up something of immense value to himself. So, the sacrifices you make in a relationship has to involve giving up something of value.
Let is look at a few examples:
1. You love alcohol and the joy it gives but your partner hates the smell. What sacrifice can you make in this instance? Arguably, both parties can make a sacrifice. One can choose to stop drinking around the other while the other may suggest ways of masking the smell. Either way a sacrifice has to be made.
2. One partner likes to see the room clean and tidy but the other wouldn’t be bothered. What sacrifices can be made in this instance? The one that doesn’t care about picking up after himself will consider it a huge sacrifice when he begins to be bothered about being tidy.
3. The husband goes to work and the wife stays at home to take care of the kids. To the woman giving up her career in order to be a stay at home mum, this would be a huge sacrifice.
The nature of sacrifice makes it foolhardy to measure your sacrifice with someone else’ scale. There are instances where the above examples may not be seen as a sacrifice at all. Remember the poor widow in Jesus’ illustration who gave her whole living? That was seen as a huge sacrifice. The rich who dropped out of their surplus were not seen as making a sacrifice. So, the true measure of a sacrifice is: ‘what will this cost me’? I think in economics this is refered to as the opportunity cost. There has to be an alternative forgone.
A guy watching the baby when he has nothing else to do is not a sacrifice. But if his favourite team was playing at Emirates and he has a ticket to the match, then it would be a sacrifice for him to babysit.
A sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it involves making a sacrifice.
Can you now see how forgiving someone and letting go especially when they have not asked is a sacrifice?
However, we have to be careful about what we consider sacrifices. Ensure that your sacrifices are well worth the effort you are putting into it. Living in a world where selfishness is prevalent, it would amount to foolishness if you make unnecessary sacrifices. For instance, a man beats up his wife whenever it gets into his head and the wife whose life is clearly in danger decides to stay insisting that she is making a sacrifice for her children. Personally, I do not think that is a worthy sacrifice. Jesus already died.
Or a friend makes you compromise your standards again and again in order to remain friends. A friend who uses perks and subtle blackmail to make you give up principles you hold dear is definitely not worth the sacrifice. There is always a need to apply balance in all things.
So, what sacrifices have you made to keep your relationship going? It just might be a good idea to look over the past months to see if you have made any real sacrifices. Then you can ask yourself: Have I been the tapeworm in this relationship? If the honest answer is positive, now just might be a good time to sit with your partner and honestly ask: what sacrifice would you like me ro make for you?