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Compromise vs. Sacrifice

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Sacrifice and compromise are two concepts that are frequently discussed in the context of relationships. While they may appear similar at first glance, there are significant differences between the two. Sacrifice involves giving up something important to oneself for the benefit of another person, while compromise involves finding a middle ground that both parties can agree on. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between sacrifice and compromise in relationships, and how they can impact the health and longevity of a partnership.




Sacrifice in Relationships Sacrifice is a concept that is often romanticized in movies and books. The idea of giving up something for the person you love can be seen as a noble act, and one that shows the depth of your commitment. However, sacrifice is not always a healthy or sustainable approach to relationships.

Research has shown that when individuals consistently sacrifice their own needs for the sake of their partner, it can lead to feelings of resentment and a sense of being taken advantage of (Impett et al., 2011). Sacrificing too much can also lead to a loss of self-identity, as individuals may prioritize their partner's needs over their own to the point of neglecting their own goals and interests (Gaines et al., 1997).

Furthermore, sacrifice can create an unhealthy power dynamic in a relationship, where one partner is constantly giving and the other is constantly receiving. This can erode the balance of power and lead to feelings of insecurity and dependence (Rusbult et al., 1998).


Compromise in Relationships Unlike sacrifice, compromise is a more balanced and collaborative approach to relationships. Compromise involves finding a middle ground that satisfies the needs of both partners. This can involve negotiating and discussing different solutions until both parties are satisfied.

Research has shown that couples who are able to compromise effectively have stronger relationships and greater satisfaction with their partnership (Rauer et al., 2013). By finding solutions that work for both partners, individuals are able to maintain their own identity and sense of self while still prioritizing the needs of their partner.


Compromise also helps to create a more equal power dynamic in a relationship. When both partners are willing to give and take, it can lead to a sense of mutual respect and trust (Rusbult et al., 1998). This can be particularly important in long-term relationships, where the ability to work through conflict and find mutually satisfying solutions is essential for the health and longevity of the partnership.


Finding the Balance While compromise is generally considered to be a healthier approach to relationships than sacrifice, there are times when sacrifice may be necessary. For example, if one partner is experiencing a crisis or illness, the other partner may need to make significant sacrifices in order to support them. However, even in these situations, it is important to find a balance between sacrifice and compromise.

Research has shown that couples who are able to find a balance between their own needs and the needs of their partner have stronger relationships and greater satisfaction with their partnership (Impett et al., 2011). This involves being able to identify when sacrifice is necessary, and when compromise is a more appropriate solution. It also involves being able to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your needs and expectations.


For Example

Sacrifice Example: Imagine a couple where one partner is offered a job opportunity in a different city, but the other partner has a job and social connections in their current location. In this situation, the partner who received the job offer may feel torn between pursuing their career goals and maintaining their relationship with their partner. To apply the concept of sacrifice in this situation, the partner who received the job offer may choose to prioritize their relationship over their career aspirations and turn down the job offer to remain in the current location with their partner.

Compromise Example: Now let's consider the same scenario, but this time with an emphasis on compromise. Using the Gottman Method, the couple could work together to find a mutually satisfying solution that meets the needs of both partners. The partner who received the job offer could discuss their desires for career advancement with their partner, while also acknowledging the importance of their relationship. Together, they could explore options for balancing the demands of the job offer with the needs of the relationship. For example, they could agree to try a long-distance relationship for a period of time or explore job opportunities in the new city that would allow them to maintain their relationship.

In both of these examples, the concepts of sacrifice and compromise are applied in different ways to address a challenging situation in a relationship. While sacrifice may be necessary in certain situations, it is important to find a balance between giving up one's own needs and maintaining a sense of self-identity.





In conclusion, sacrifice and compromise are two concepts that are frequently discussed in the context of relationships. While both can be important in certain situations, compromise is generally considered to be a healthier and more sustainable approach to relationships. Compromise involves finding a middle ground that satisfies the needs of both partners, while sacrifice involves giving up something important for the benefit of another person.

Research has shown that couples who are able to compromise effectively have stronger relationships and greater satisfaction with their partnership. By finding solutions that work for both partners, individuals are able to maintain their own identity and sense of self while still prioritizing the needs of their partner. It is important to note that finding a balance between sacrifice and compromise is essential for the health and longevity of a relationship. Sacrifice can create an unhealthy power dynamic and lead to feelings of resentment and neglect, while compromise helps to create a more equal power dynamic and leads to greater satisfaction in the partnership.


References: Gaines, S. O., Henderson, M. C., Kim, M., & Gilstrap, L. (1997). Self-sacrifice and self-actualization in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14(5), 677-689.

Impett, E. A., Gordon, A. M., Kogan, A., Oveis, C., Gable, S. L., & Keltner, D. (2011). Moving toward more perfect unions: Daily and long-term consequences of approach and avoidance goals in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(2), 387-407.

Rauer, A. J., Karney, B. R., Garvan, C. W., & Hou, W. K. (2013). Relationship risks in context: A cumulative risk approach to understanding relationship satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75(2), 348-365.

Rusbult, C. E., Johnson, D. J., & Morrow, G. D. (1998). Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60(3), 628-640.

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country's foremost relationship expert. Harmony.

Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2018). Gottman method couples therapy. In Clinical handbook of couple therapy (pp. 55-86). Guilford Press.

Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Psychology Press.

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