I did not always have high standards or proper boundaries for myself. Sadly, there are times in my life that I allowed other people to treat me so very poorly, that I had no value. Not in how I treated myself, and certainly not in how I expected others to treat me.
I did not even know what God’s standards were. I didn’t grow up with godly examples and was only sporadically in a church. For much of my growing up years, I lived by the world’s low standards for how a lady should act. In doing this, I allowed myself to be used and abused.
It’s funny now to think, that the day that I walked down the aisle, I thought that had all changed.
I was in what everyone was calling, “the most beautiful Christian wedding ceremony they had ever seen.” The problem was, I was the only one telling the truth that day. I was the only one who meant those words. I was the only one committed to fulfilling God’s purpose for marriage… in sickness and health until death does us part.
[Also Read: Divorce is a Death (Of Someone Still Living)]
At some point it dawned on me, if he lies straight to my face, even about little the things, he really has no respect for me. There is not “truth” there. Nope, none! All that was there was a disrespect for me, for God, and for the marriage vows.
At the very end, I knew I was the only one doing CPR on an already, long-time dead marriage. And for someone who had worked on her licensing in emergency medicine, I had missed that flatline so very long ago.
I decided to stop pounding on the marriage, so then I got up… and started walking forward into my own healing. Starting seeking God’s standards, no matter what that meant. Marriage or no marriage.
After my divorce was final, I knew my marriage as over and I was never going back. I knew at that point my view of my life had to change. Not only for myself but for the legacy I was leaving for future generations. I knew if I wanted my kids to live a pure life, I needed to do the same. Not just for show. Not hiding things in secret.
No, fully transparent about how a single person acts and behaves even in private. What appropriate boundaries looked like. And how I would handle any potential future mate. While fleeing from all potential sin.
I also had to change my view because I realized that I deserved so much better than what I had.
In the future, how will I know it’s love? I’ll have a higher standard. A godly standard as spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13, starting in verse four. I will replace the word “love” with the person’s name.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG
Standards are not easy.
This change in my standards has not been an easy road. Most people just do not get it. Even Christians and married. As a single lady, I have boundaries with married men, even when they do not have them themselves. I do not text or private message married men without their wife in on the conversation.
Because it is about having respect for God and all marriage vows. Marriage should be held sacred to all… not just married people. And not giving the enemy a foothold in any situation, even if it seems innocent. All affairs start as innocent “friend” interactions, in private.
Also, I will not “date” just for fun. I will not be in places or situations that I might compromise my standards or put me in the temptation to sin. It is just not worth it.
I have met a few single men since my divorce was final. And I have sure seen a lot. I’ve been lied to. I’ve heard how one man pushed his ex-wife when he was angry. (Nope, not the guy for me. 😉 ) And I have been told, “I will go to church for the right woman!“
“No, thank you! Please do not go to church for me!”
Or for any woman. Go to church and read your Bible for your own salvation.
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Who wants to start a relationship like that?
Would you want to start off a relationship with lies and sin? Personally, I will not settle like that again. From reading the Bible, I know God’s high standards. Any godly man would understand God’s standards and have the same standards for himself. Not to “win” another person over, but because he understands that God must always be at the center, with a solid foundation, in order for anything to last.
And being holy is way more important than having fun. Wouldn’t you want to do it the right way? God’s way. Not the world’s way! What a mess that is, right?
Some might say I am too “legalistic” to think that we should wait for a man who will have high standards as well. To that I say, I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than with someone who would willingly take my purity, who lies to me and to God, who sneaks around behind my back with other women, and doesn’t respect me!
You should too!
Domestic violence always starts with disrespect. And I believe that God wants way better for us and our future. He wants us to leave a legacy of purity to our children because it is way more important than any worldly pleasure. Even if that means we stay single.
We should want what God wants for us. I want marriage to be honored and sacred again. Proper boundaries and God’s standards of living are the only way to go. Personally, I also think that is one way to stop abuse… before it starts.
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Have you raised your standards since your divorce? Will you expect godly standards in the future?
God bless your healing journey,
I absolutely agree! And I feel the same way, especially now that I’m twice divorced. Bravo for you!!!
Jen Grice says
Thank you for your comment and encouragement, Gigi! I believe it is never too late to turn around and do things God’s way. 🙂 May God bless your walk.
That is such good insight! I feel the same. My divorce will be final the end of November! 17 years of DV! I will never settle for less than a Godly man. Not sure if I will ever marry again although I decided that my God is bigger than all of the wickedness done against me and well able to heal all of the damage done to my soul!
Jen Grice says
Good for you. A commitment to healing for several seasons, instead of looking to marry again, is a healthy choice.
I have been divorced almost a year. I hung onto my abusive marriage almost 30 years. Didn’t realize I was being abused. It was all emotional. Thank you for this encouragement. I too would rather stay single than to compromise my standards ever again. I am well aware that my adult children are watching everything I do and how I respond. I am so thankful to the Lord for His daily guidance and provision and help through every day. So thankful for peace in my life and the esteem I have gained through belonging to Christ. So glad to see I am not in this alone. This is a very hard and painful road. Compared to what I lived with though I am glad to be walking down it! Prayers for all going through this journey!
Jen Grice says
Thank you for sharing Robin. I know what you mean, it took me a long time to fully comprehend the emotional abuse that I was subjected to. It was so covert that it was hard to see without someone explaining the motives behind it all. I am glad you are here, and no longer feeling alone!! Welcome! Prayers and blessings for you as well.
I agree. Thank you for your insight on boundaries and standards. I would set boundaries in my marriage but only later on they would dwindle away. Early in my marriage when alcohol was added he would get abusive emotional,verbal and physical. Sometimes I retaliated but it didn’t stop. I became a born again Christian the year I was married. We both had some knowledge of God but nothing of salvation. We struggled for years with his sin of porn, adultery and substance abuse, yes there were happy times but I needed to keep those boundaries. Fast forward I began to attend church again, reading the Bible, making new friends, teaching and greeting. When I caught him again messaging another woman (married) and knowing her personal business then lying to me bold face I had enough. Suddenly he became weepy and then began reading devotionals and even went to church with me. I let my boundaries down again!!! I was so happy for him! Then his interest in God/prayer/church slowly faded away. Then I found a card in his vehicle for an unknown person and no signature. He was lying again and he wouldn’t tell me who it was from. Fast forward to now we are still in the same house. Our children are grown and live close. I have realized that I really haven’t TRUSTED GOD with my life. Thank you Jen. You have helped me open my eyes to what I’ve needed to do. Trust in Jesus. Thank you to all the women too who bravely speak about their lives and how God has strengthened them through the storms. ❤️
Jen Grice says
Hi Kaylene. You’re welcome. I can relate to what you’re talking about. Toxic people usually don’t have respectful boundaries themselves so anyone trying have a healthy relationship with them, that includes boundaries, find that they’ve been manipulated to let their boundaries down and forget about their own personal limits and preferences. Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? (Available on Amazon) For me, I felt relieved to know that there were purposeful mind games, blameshifting, and behavior excusing going on that I wasn’t aware of. It was covert psychological abuse. Praying, as you navigate through your divorce healing journey.
Jennifer B. says
100% agree with you! I have said the same words as you…I’d rather stay single for the rest of my life than go back into another toxic marriage to a narcissist…
God snatched me out of that 34 years of abuse to give me a fresh start… not ever going back to that!!
Jen Grice says
Amen! Thanks for joining the conversation.
Wow….I agree 100%. However, my actions aren’t the same, sadly. My divorce was final In July. Over the past 3 years, we were on and off again. After our divorce, we have tried twice again. This time, we are going good. However, I have set my boundaries but he is trying to push them, like always. He fell away from church and will not go back, or even talk about it. He now says that if I do certain things that make him happy, he might get back into church. In the past, I allowed to be pursaded into a sinful, lustful sexual marriage that was not near my moral beliefs. I moved away from my faith and my health went down. After our separation, I restored my Faith and have been closer to God than ever. I set boundaries and although he says he would never make me do anything I didn’t want, he still pushes certain issues. When I read your story, it made me realize that this is NOT love…because he can fall out of love with me when he is unhappy just as fast as he fell in love with me. And him telling me he “might” get back into church “if” I do certain things is a red flag. As much as I know I love him, I feel in my heart that this is a bad choice. How do I move on? I do this to myself because I keep going back there.
Jen Grice says
As humans, we often go back to what we know – whether it’s the same person or another person with the same character. And as someone who took her (ex-)husband back after multiple affairs, it often seems easier to just return to the marriage then deal with the unknown future and heartbreak after divorce. I assure you beating yourself up won’t help! My ministry exists to walk with you while having healthy boundaries, showing you that you will survive this grief or heartache and go on to have a thriving life! As I say in my book, this will feel like walking in the desert, but God promises SO MUCH better for you on the other side. Just keep walking forward one day, even one minute, at a time.
Heather J. says
Thank you so much for your verbalizing some very simple, powerful directives we’re given in the Bible about dating and marriage. I compromised in my faith on my first marriage and stuck it out for 23 years until I had proof of what I felt. The adultery was there and even more rampant than I could have imagined. I am three years out from the separation and divorce and tried dating just this last week. Talked a lot on the phone, out with him a couple times, we got along well, doesn’t drink or smoke, etc… seems a little boastful but none of us are perfect. It wasn’t until I realized that he believed sex needed to be included in his dating regime and he realized that I actually believed it should be saved for marriage that we parted ways. He was at least honest about it all (after somewhat forcefully kissing me), but how does he seriously call himself a Christian?! I even defined to him that adultery means sex outside the marriage vows (before, during, after!), he seemed to respectfully consider that but decided to go his own way. I read your post today after it all went down. It helps enormously to know I’m not the only one who’s chosen to walk with Jesus and without compromise. I just really need to figure out how to build a stronger community and date when I feel stronger. Thanks for “listening”
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome! Yes, dating these days seems so much harder than 20+ years ago. But having standards and boundaries is the best way to keep it as sin-free as possible. Don’t want to carry any unnecessary baggage into the next marriage.