Did you ever think someone could show you love through a bologna sandwich?
I didn’t think so either.
Until I found out that my then-boyfriend-now-husband (a poor, broke, medical school student at the time) spent close to two months eating bologna sandwiches every day in order to cut down his grocery budget to $10 a week, just so he could save up enough money to buy me an engagement ring.
The truth is, marriage will cost you.
When you think of the cost of marriage, what comes to mind?
According to recent statistics, the average couple today spends $26,444 on a wedding. That’s a lot of money, but it’s nothing compared to the real costs of marriage. Because like it or not, marriage will cost you more than money. It will cost you something great. It will cost you a price much larger than the money you spend on a ring or a wedding or a honeymoon—it will cost you yourself.
I heard a married man on TV say (regarding whether or not he was going to stay in his own marriage), “I shouldn’t be with someone if I’m not happy.” It’s an attitude many people have, and hearing it made my stomach turn.
What an accurate reflection of the self-centered society we live in, everyone believing their main goal in life is their own personal happiness. What a small and shallow way to live.
If you’re getting married with your own happiness as your main goal, you will be disappointed in a severe way.
Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s not even about you. It’s about love—which is something we choose to give time and time again. It’s about sacrifice, serving, giving, forgiving—and then doing it all over again.
No wonder we choose divorce over commitment. Because often, we’re choosing “personal happiness” over real commitment, over real love.
They say marriage teaches you more about selflessness than you ever wanted to know. I have definitely found that phrase to be true in my relationship with my husband. Because at the heart of it, real love is all about sacrifice. About the giving of yourself, in ways big and small.
It’s about offering forgiveness when you’ve been hurt.
It’s about giving your time though it’s not always convenient.
It’s about sharing your heart when you’d rather hold back.
It’s about cleaning the kitchen after a long weekend, even if it’s your least favorite job.
It’s about choosing to respond with love when you’d rather respond in anger.
It’s about offering a listening ear, when you’d rather tune out or go to bed.
It’s about putting someone else’s needs and desires before your own.
It’s about giving up that last bite of cake, just so your spouse can enjoy it.
It’s about laying down your rights, to make way for the rights of another.
The list could go on and on, but it always ends with the same formula: You before me. And we before I.
We live in a world that despises the sacrificial side of marriage and tries to wish it away. They teach to strive for power, control and the upper hand in a relationship. They tell us to do what feels right, and not to tolerate anything less. They fool us to thinking that love is about doing what makes us happy. And the second we feel less than happy, they encourage us to bail, to abandon ship and to stop investing.
But they’ve got it all wrong.
Because the more we give, the better we become. Real love is not self-seeking, and it will always cost you. It will cost your heart, your time and your money. It will cost your comfort, your rights and your pride. It will cost you to “lay down your life” for the life of another. And only those who learn to die to themselves are the ones who get to experience the resurrection power that comes with it—resurrection into real love, into real life, and into meaningful relationships.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Debra Fileta, M.A., LPC. It originally appeared here. Her new book Choosing Marriage launches Tuesday. To submit your story, click here. For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.
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