True Love Demands No Sacrifices

by | Nov 13, 2000

Never ask your spouse or partner to make a sacrifice for you. If you really love someone, then you don’t wish to control them. It’s not that you merely won’t ask them to do something they don’t want to do. We’re not just talking about manners here. It’s deeper than that. It’s that you don’t […]

Never ask your spouse or partner to make a sacrifice for you.

If you really love someone, then you don’t wish to control them. It’s not that you merely won’t ask them to do something they don’t want to do. We’re not just talking about manners here. It’s deeper than that.

It’s that you don’t want them to do something they don’t want to do. You don’t want them to do something which is truly a sacrifice for them — or that they even view as a sacrifice. You don’t want loved ones to be martyrs for you. The very idea, in fact, disgusts you.

What if your spouse or loved one is doing something obviously irrational and self-defeating? Such as drug abuse, for example? Or compulsive gambling? Or wasting his time watching empty-headed television shows instead of utilizing his potential?

Even then, you don’t want him to stop simply because you command him to do so. You want him to stop because you see him destroying his potential, and his capacity to enjoy life with you. You might implore him to stop this self-destructive course — but for his own sake, not yours.

This applies to less dramatic day-to-day issues as well. You want to see one movie, but your spouse really doesn’t want to see that same movie? You don’t condemn her as selfish. Yes, she is being selfish; but there’s nothing wrong with being selfish. Each is entitled to live one’s life as one sees fit. This includes what movies one chooses to watch for two precious hours of one’s life.

Sure, it’s appropriate to feel disappointment that your wife does not want to see the same movie you do. Or watch the ball game with you every Sunday. But you accept the fact that this is her conclusion. And you move on. You see the movie or game alone. You ask another friend to see it with you. You resolve to rent the movie sometime, or watch the ball game on cable. But you get over it, and move on. Others are not obliged to be your keeper.

Don’t ever condemn a loved one — a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend — for being selfish. We all have a right to be selfish — in the rational sense, of not making sacrifices for others.

Of course, the other side of the selfish coin is that you respect the equal right of others to be selfish. You can’t expect this right for yourself, but not for others.

Does all this sound shocking to you? Then think about the alternative.

Think of a literally selfless life: of picking out things to do that you hate, deliberately and precisely because you hate them. Of finding the least attractive partner (physically and mentally) and marrying that person precisely because he or she is the least attractive. It’s insanity! Living your life for others, and being miserable, is the essence of virtue? What does that do for yourself — or the ones you love, for that matter?

We have been taught some pretty twisted ideas. It’s time to name those ideas for what that are. And to change them, once and for all!

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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