What are your deal breakers? Do you draw lines in the sand? Is there a point when you say enough is enough? What does it take to end your marriage? I know most of us try to hold true to the words Jesus spoke: “Let therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” But I also know most of us have some exceptions we would make to this rule. Given the right circumstances, most of us could be pushed to the point where we would draw our line in the sand.
My deal breaker was infidelity. I had seen so much of it growing up and I knew how much pain it caused I became very afraid it. My fear of it even pushed me into a place of denial the first two times my marriage was in trouble. I was willing to accept my wife had had emotional affairs. But I couldn’t handle knowing she had been sexually intimate with someone else. Even when she tried to confess to me about her first affair my reaction was so severe she immediately retracted it and told me only as much as I was willing to accept.
Then the third time our marriage was in trouble I had to face that possibility once again. I was fighting with everything I had to save our marriage. And I remember very specifically a day when I was praying and I told the Lord I could stand and fight for my marriage just as long as my wife did not become sexually involved with this other guy. I told the Lord I didn’t think I could handle it if the affair had reached that point. Then I heard the Lord say very clearly in my spirit, “do not draw a line in the sand.”
That turned out to be a breakthrough moment for me. From that point on I felt unconditional love for my wife and an unwavering commitment to fight for my marriage. That lesson carried me through that third time and through the last time our marriage was in trouble. There were still many more things I needed to learn about marriage. But I may not have ever learned anything else if I had not learned to erase my line in the sand.
Right lines in the sand
For example, I know of different situations where abuse has caused marriages to end. I’ve seen where the violence of physical abuse was so severe that the wife was in fear for her life and the lives of her children. I’ve also seen where it was discovered a father was sexually molesting his child. And so in both of those situations, the wives had no choice but to end their marriages.
Now those are extreme examples that most of us can agree with. And I’m sure we could add things like alcoholism or drug addiction here. Also maybe we could agree with a few other things if we looked at those situations carefully.
Wrong lines in the sand
But the problem I still see with so many marriages that come to an end is where one spouse or both start making up the rules as they go. Their lines in the sand become whatever seems to fit the situation they’re dealing with. They find their marriage to be more work than they’re willing to put into it so they look for reasons to quit.
Then we hear things like:
- “We’re not that compatible anymore.”
- “We just fell out of love.”
- “We just grew apart.”
- “He’s not the same person I married.”
- “All she does is complain.”
- “I have a right to be happy.”
- “I’ve been trying for so long and I just can’t do it anymore.”
- “I don’t think I could ever trust her again.”
And I could go on and on with the lines in the sand people draw and the poor excuses people give to quit on their marriage. But the point I want to make here is this. Unless you are facing one of the extreme examples I give above. You need to examine your line in the sand and you need to let the grace of God show you how to erase that line.
Marriage can be hard work and you may have to endure much more than you ever thought you would have to. But I can promise you this if you let God do the work He wants to do in you, there will be no regrets. You may not always get every situation to go your way, but you can have the character God wants you to have.
So the choice for you is clear. Do you want to draw your lines in the sand and go on trying to obtain the ideal situation? Or do you want God to be in charge of developing you into the person He needs you to be so that other lives can be affected by His light that shines through you?