TS Eliot, in Little Gidding, mentions "A condition of complete simplicity/(Costing not less than everything)" (okay, admittedly, TS Eliot isn't the *best* source for relationship advice, but...)
How's this for sacrifice. Conversation with a 70 year old Christian friend of mine, let's call her Gloria.
Me: "I want the best for her. (My separated other)"
Gloria: "The best? Ha. You know what the best is?"
Me: "Well, hmmm. Unconditional love and acceptance? Freedom for her to be who she is?"
Gloria: "Ha. No. That's bullshit. This is the best: that a man lay down his life for his woman. That a man completely renounce his entire life and give himself without reservation and with complete abandon to his wife. No more sexual possibilities, no more adventures, no more "what ifs," no more sexual conquest. Complete abandon, 100% surrender. What does the woman give up? She gives up her will. The man is her head, he takes the place of God for her. This is the best. Both sacrifice what they hold most dear, what seems like everything, in order to gain everything with each other. This is the true meaning of monogamy. This is the step into real, grown up relationship the way God intended it. Everything else is just scared kids fucking each other."
I love hanging out with Gloria precisely because I get this window into the core of our cultural values. Old fashioned? Ha. Gloria is often positively medieval. But, really, is her construction any different from the Rom Com idea, the Myth of The One, the watered down, namby-pamby idea of monogamy that is promoted by our advertising culture? What's missing from our contemporary lovey-dovey monogamy myth is the absolute renunciation of the man and the absolute submission of the woman. But these absolutes are certainly hinted at in our modern fairy tales. In all "romantic" fairy tales. What's missing on an even more essential level is the central source and ground of this particular old vision of "the best": God. We have become uncomfortable with God and have removed Him (with a capital H especially) from our consciousness, conveniently and expediently, yet we still rely on the old (really primal and really old) vision of monogamy in much of our fantasy of what "love" is. We then wonder whence all the misery? We are trying to drive through a very dangerous neighborhood in an ancient vehicle that no longer even has the engine in it.
Working monogamy now seems to have an entirely different basis and seems much more conscious. But the transition from myth to conscious reality is a bitch.
I suspect I know nothing of true sacrifice, having never experienced it. But I do begin to sense that all sacrifice is essentially the same: each one is a step toward "costing not less than everything." Otherwise, we only think we are sacrificing. We ordinarily only sacrifice those things which are not important. Also TS Eliot: "We are only undeceived of that, which, deceiving, could no longer harm."
Time to do laundry and go to the post office!