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Ideals and the Greater Good Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2022

The purpose of this assignment is to take a position on the ethical question, “Would you sacrifice one or more of your ideals for the greater good?” to do so, the paper will use an example to supposed this claim.

I believe I would sacrifice one or more of my ideals for the greater good. A perfect example that supports this statement is my view on marriage. Marriage can be likened to a lifetime game between two players that always sums up to zero games, in which both players are winners. Marriage has a higher purpose that entails a sacrifice of some of values and ideals for the greater good of the couple. In marriage, couples share identity, values, and ideals, including increased intimacy levels in the marital relationship. In this case, intimacy entails emotional, intellectual, social, recreational, and sexual intimacy (Schaefer & Olson, 1981).

My assumptions on sacrificing one’s ideals for the greater good are; First, I believe that when a couple contribute and sacrifice evenly, they are investing towards a long-term common identity with shared values and ideals as long as the sacrifices made are not harmful to one’s self and do not interfere with their religious beliefs. Investing in a shared couple identity is larger than the self-centered short-term achievement.

Research supports the position that the quality and stability of a couples’ relationship is positively related to their positive attitude towards sacrifice (Stanley & Markman, 1992; Impett, Gable & Peplau, 2005; Van Lange et al., 1997). Sacrifice is frequently associated with commitment to the relationship. With increased levels of commitment, couples develop identity centered on both partners, as opposed to self-centered. This couples’ identity enables partners to act in the interest of their relationship, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction in the relationship (Stanley & Markman, 1992). Research has demonstrated the higher levels of satisfaction that accompanies sacrifice in the early stages of marriage are due to less distress and more marital adjustments Stanley, Amato, Johnson, & Markman, 2006).

Another assumption is that I consider the sacrifice of ideals for a greater good to be one of the virtues. More so, sacrifice is a virtue that represents the language of accountability, respect for person, faith, and love. However, fulfillment degrees for such a virtue vary from one person to another. Those who achieve higher levels of fulfilling this virtue, are drawn closer to what they respect and love most. Van Lange et al (2007) notes that act of sacrifice can vary in form and degree that ranging from minor, transient, and situation-specific to major and substantial. Furthermore, they link the act of sacrifice to the attainment of the wellbeing of one’s partner or the relationship (Van Lange et al., 1997). Sacrifice involves consciously and voluntarily foregoing something for another thing that an individual values more (Stanley, Markman & Whitton, 2002).

Researchers contend that sacrificing motives can positively or negatively affect relationships about emotions. Impett, Gable and Peplau (2005) reveal that individuals who tend to sacrifice for avoidance motives were more likely to experience negative emotions that are detrimental to the relationship with lower levels of satisfaction, accompanied by relationships disagreements. On the other hand, individuals who sacrificed for approach motives were more likely to experience positive emotions with higher levels of satisfaction, accompanied by positive relationship outcomes with fewer relationship disagreements (Impett et al. 2005). Therefore, in light of this, I believe that partners’ motives in sacrificing are associated with genuine sacrifices that can lead to better marital outcomes.

Whitton, Stanley, and Markman (2007) proposed that the perception of sacrifice can positively or negatively affect relationships. Positive affect is the result of perceiving sacrifice as a beneficial action for the relationship. To a certain extent, this increases commitment which then leads to better marital outcomes. While a negative effect results from perceiving sacrifice as harmful to the self and more of losses rather than benefits to the relationship. This negative effect is manifested by negative physiological and psychological health outcomes (Whitton et al., 2007). An important distinction is that sacrifice is shared between partners and as such, balance is essential. For this reason, dissatisfaction is likely to occur if the individual believes that there lacks a fair share of sacrifices and that they are making more sacrifices than their partners (Whitton et al., 2002).

Rusbult and Van Lange (1996) believe that sacrificing can result in psychological costs such as feelings of anger, guiltiness, and dependence. However, Van Lange et al. (1997) disagree with this belief because they relate it to the exchange theory and explain that partners who choose to sacrifice view sacrifice as a foundation of satisfaction rather than a cost. This foundation is valued for its impact on the future

Many researchers associate sacrifice with benefits. First, there is the benefit of reinforcement of relationships growth and in facilitating the sense of security and safety. Both are essential elements for better marital outcomes (Whitton et al., 2002). Another benefit is the development of trust between couples, whereby the acknowledgment of sacrifice has led to increased trust between partners, which correlated with increased commitment (Wieselquist et al., 1999).

Thirdly, we have personal and interpersonal benefits. Impett et al (2005) report that individuals who sacrificed their own needs to resolve disagreements for their partner’s interests, recorded increased satisfaction with strengthened relationships.

Fourthly, there is a need for a higher degree of interdependence in close personal relationships. Anderson and Sabatelli (2007) note that the interdependent relationship is accomplished when couples are acting in the best interests of each other and eventually this approach will help in achieving benefits. Trust and commitment are essential elements in interdependence relationships that continue to be maintained and built up to a higher level, leading to more faith in the relationship that has exceptional and irreplaceable characteristics that define a lifetime relationship.

In conclusion, choosing to put the relationships first over individual values seems to promote better outcomes towards shared couples’ values. In addition, the willingness to sacrifice contributes to a greater investment that is eventually associated with a higher level of commitment and higher levels of satisfaction in the relationship. Therefore, sacrificing one or more of my ideals for the greater good of better quality marital outcomes is the ideal choice.

Reference List

Anderson, S. A., & Sabatelli, R. M. (2007). Family interaction: A multigenerational developmental perspective (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Impett, E. A., Gable, S. L., & Peplau, L. A. (2005). Giving up and giving in: The costs and benefits of daily sacrifice in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89 (3), 327-344.

Rusbult, C. E., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (1996). Interdependence processes. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.). Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles. New York: Guilford Press.

Schaefer, M. T., & Olson, D. H. (1981). Assessing intimacy: The pair inventory. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 7, 47-60.

Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (1992). Assessing commitment in personal relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 595-608.

Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., & Whitton, S. (2002). Communication, conflict, and commitment: Insights on the foundations of relationship success from a national survey. Family Process, 41, 659-675.

Stanley, S. M., Whitton, S. W., Sadberry, S. L., Clements, M. L., & Markman, H. W. (2006). Sacrifice as a predictor of marital outcomes. Family Process, 45 (3), 289-303.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Rusbult, C. E., Drigotas, S.M., Arriaga, X. B., Witcher, B. S., & Cox, C. L. (1997). Willingness to sacrifice in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72 (6), 1373-1395.

Whitehead, B. D. (1997). The divorce culture. New York: Knopf.

Whitton, S. W., Stanley, S. H. , & Markman, H. J. (2002). Sacrifice in romantic relationships: Anexploration of relevant research and theory. In A. Vangelisti & H. Reis (Eds.), Stability and change in relationships: Advances in personal relationships (pp. 156-181). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Whitton, S. W., Stanley, S. H. , & Markman, H. J. (2002). Sacrifice in romantic relationships: Anexploration of relevant research and theory. In A. Vangelisti & H. Reis (Eds.), Stability and change in relationships: Advances in personal relationships (pp. 156-181). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Whitton, S. W., Stanley, S. H., & Markman, H. J. (2007). If I help my partner, will it hurt me? Perceptions of sacrifice in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and ClinicalPsychology, 26, 64-92.

Wieselquist, J., Rusbult, C. E., Foster, C. A., & Agnew, C. R. (1999). Commitment, pro- relationship behavior, and trust in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 942-966.

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