There are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice. One is based on fear and the other on love. Knowing the difference is a key to knowing how to love and be loved.
Over the years, I have counseled people who tried to use unhealthy sacrifice to save a marriage. It appeared to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. I have seen lovers try to play small in a relationship so as to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. I have seen children get ill in a desperate attempt to heal their parents’ relationship. I have seen business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well intentioned, but it doesn’t work, because it is based on fear and not love.
Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, you have to be willing to sacrifice fear for love, independence for intimacy, resentment for forgiveness, and old wounds for new beginnings, for instance. Above all, you have to stop giving yourself away and learn how to give more of yourself. You give yourself away when you are not true to yourself, when you play a role, when you don’t speak up, when you don’t ask for what you want, when you don’t listen to yourself, and when you don’t allow yourself to receive. The key is to remember that whatever you are trying to achieve with unhealthy sacrifice can also be achieved without it.
— Robert Holden, Loveability, p. 149