The Unexpected Joy of Sacrifice in Dating and Marriage

Photo by Hian Oliveira

Photo by Hian Oliveira

The story of my marriage is a little different than most.

In all likelihood, you will marry someone who is from your country, speaks your native language, and grew up in the same basic culture you did. Perhaps not the exact culture, but the general culture shared by the majority of people in your nation.

But when Leon asked me to marry him, much more was involved.

He is from North America, and I am from South America. Our home cultures are vastly different, which means our brains are “wired” differently. When we were first getting to know each other, he didn’t even speak my language very well, and we had some trouble communicating.

Shortly after our marriage, we considered living in Ecuador, and Leon tried to find a job there. But as we listened for God’s direction, I realized He was asking me to move to the United States with my husband. He was asking for a sacrifice.

This was not a simple, pain-free decision for me. Moving to the United States meant leaving my family, friends, church, and career, as well as my Ecuadorian food, language, and culture.

Being with Leon meant making a bigger sacrifice than I had ever made in my life.

But I did it for love, because he was worth it to me.

What Sacrifice Can Look Like

Marriage involves sacrifice. So does dating.

But when we are compelled by love and not selfishness (see 2 Cor. 5:14), every time we make a sacrifice for this other person, it becomes an opportunity to say, “I love you. Here—let me show you my love.”

  • Even when your partner is from your country, speaks your language, and has multiple things in common with you, you will still have to take a risk and get out of your comfort zone in one way or another.

  • Being with this person means you will need to change your mind from time to time.

  • Being with this person means you will need to share space with them—even on those days when you want to be left alone.

  • Being with this person means you aren’t single anymore. You are not just one person—you are two people now, which means learning how to think with another person in mind.

Some sacrifices seem easy at the beginning of a relationship while others are harder. Couples have to collaborate over even simple, little things such as deciding who to visit over the holidays, which car to purchase, or how to decorate a room.

One thing is certain: The longer a couple is together, the more sacrifices they will make.

What Great Love Looks Like

Whenever I face a hard choice in my marriage, I think of what Jesus said in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Many of us have read or heard that verse a hundred times, so we’ve grown a little immune to its power. But it is the foundation of marriage and dating.

Although most of us won’t be called to physically give up our lives for our spouses, all of us are called to think of our spouses’ needs before our own.

“I get to love you with my actions. I get to show you on a daily basis that you matter to me. I love you so much that I am willing to change for your sake.”

That is what Jesus did for us on the cross.

He showed His love for us with His actions. He proved our worth to His heart—to the point of setting aside His divine privileges so He could take on flesh and live among us on earth, ultimately laying down His life. Why? So He could be with us forever, and we could be with Him.

Making sacrifices is an important part of maturing in any dating or marriage relationship. When two people are healthy, the act of sacrifice—though it may be difficult in the moment—produces joy in the long run.

I am so happy that I chose Leon all those years ago. I chose to make sacrifices for the sake of love, and it has blessed me more than I really know how to explain.

 

Interested in reading more? Here are a few other articles on related topics:

For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.

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