Marriage Deal Breakers & Why You Need To Talk About Them

Marriage Deal Breakers & Why You Need To Talk About Them | the |

A couple of years ago I came across a post from Ashley of Far Beyond Love entitled, “Does Your Marriage Have a Deal-Breaker?” Her article stuck out to me and I immediately found myself beginning to question and think about the points she makes as it relates to my own marriage. Do I, in fact, have a deal-breaker? Do I have more than one? Is there one thing that would mean the end of my marriage? Today I’m digging deep into the depths of my relationship and sharing my thoughts on this topic of marriage deal breakers.

Now, this concept of a deal-breaker is simple. Ask yourself:

what, if any, is the one act that would mean the dissolution of my marriage?

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It is understood that when one enters a marriage it should be grounded in love, respect, honesty, trust, and yada, yada, yada. If that holds true, and people enter marriage with the best of intentions, then why do people divorce in the first place? Do people really jump ship that easily? To answer that, let’s take a little peek at a few facts.

The Stats

According to the Center for Disease Control and their National Marriage and Divorce Rate Trends report, in 2014 my husband and I were counted as one of the 2 million people that married that year*. Surprisingly, within that same year there were an average of 800,000 reported divorces**. This equates to a rate of an average of 3 people divorcing per 1,000 people.

*excludes data from Georgia and Louisiana.
** of 45 reporting states and DC.

Although this means that divorce still tends to be the answer for many couples, it doesn’t reflect the common notion that we’ve all heard, “half of marriages end in divorce.” It’s simply not true anymore. The divorce rate actually appears to be falling, which could mean one of two things: A) more couples are waiting or not marrying at all or B) more marriages are lasting. Either way, it’s encouraging to know that marriages do stand a chance in a culture that oftentimes treats the institution as a fleeting choice that’s easily exchanged or discarded.

Changing the approach: raw communication.

When my husband and I first met we were both fresh from leaving our respective relationships. We found ourselves in no rush to enter into anything new, but of course God had other plans for us. It was an instant connection or you could call it the fabled love at first sight. Either way, we knew we found something special in one another and became fiercely protective of it.

Although falling in love were easy choices for us, for the first time in our dating lives we changed our approach to how we related to one another. We tried something new for ourselves considering the mistakes of our previous relationships and those depressing seasons of our past lives. We were honest, wholeheartedly, with each other and up front about what we wanted or expected. I will call these the non-negotiables. These are the values or lifestyles that are equally important to the both of us and are the things we will not tolerate within our relationship.

The non-negotiables list.

One way we evaluated what our non-negotiables are was to make a list. We thought about what values, beliefs, or expectations we have and communicated them to each other.

This is something easy you can do regardless of if you’re dating, engaged, or have been married for 50 years. Your list doesn’t need to be lengthy, but in reality we all have at least a few things that are super important for us that shouldn’t be minimized or altered just because of who our significant other is or how long we’ve been together.


I want children. Maybe two.

I want to be married when we have children.

I want to raise our family in the Christian faith.

My husband must be a non-smoker.

Must have a steady career.

Always reaching to elevate yourself and others.

I want to be completely open and included in our family finances.

Must have clean habits and enjoys a clean home.

Must be flexible and open minded in life.


Must like children and dogs.

Must take care of yourself (in diet, exercise, etc).

Share in the same interests.

Be flexible and adaptable.

Accept him as he is and to not try and change him.

Let him be the man in the relationship.

Enjoy wine.

Must have good personal/oral hygiene. 

Having an continuous and open dialogue about these non-negotiables has been one of the strongest bonds my husband and I both share and can even be said three married years later. We respect the values and opinions we have and love each other despite what’s on our lists.

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7

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Bringing it full circle.

So, if you could make a list today of your non-negotiables what would be on it? I challenge you today to make your list and share it with your spouse and see what conversations stem from this openness and place of honesty. How can your marriage flourish by recognizing ways in which your non-negotiables can influence your relationship?

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”
Ecclesiastes 4:9


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  • I love your perspective on this topic and I love that you both laid out your non-negotiables from the beginning. My husband and I have a unique story as well. We actually met online (just casual friends in a few FB groups) and found we had a ton in common. We ended up chatting almost every single night. We lived in separate states so there was no "romance" it was just soul-baring friendship with someone. What did we have to lose? It was just all honesty. A year and a half after we started talking we met in person for a weekend. Two weeks later I moved to his town. Six months later we were married. Now it's 4 years later and here we are. I credit that 1.5 year of total honesty to why our marriage is so strong.

  • This post really makes you think! I remember reading another blogger's post that was similar to this. She talked about how her pastor asked this question of her and her now husband during marriage counseling. I had never thought about it before, but it's an important thing to think about! I'm engaged right now, and I think it's good for us to think and talk about this subject so we can have strategies to avoid these deal-breakers.

  • I believe strongly in developing deep friendships in a relationship before moving forward. I love that you and your husband laid it all out to each other early on because it is such a reward later on in your marriage to not have to guess or question each other about the things that matter the most. Honesty, I know is so cliche to say, but it’s the truth. Be open and 100% honest, even about the uncomfortable things, and you’ll find yourself in a lasting marriage. Thanks for sharing, Ashley!

  • Congrats on your engagement! It’s a fun period between being in ‘just’ a relationship and and taking each other as husband and wife. This is an important time to discuss your values and how you both want to move forward, especially about family. The funny thing about deal-breakers or non-negotiables is that everyone has them…even if they’re small. Definitely think about what yours are and strike up a fun conversation with your fiancé. My husband and I enjoy revealing these things because the conversation turns into hours of soul-bearing and it helps us grow as a couple. I’m excited for you!

  • This is why it's important to know the person you're marrying–my husband and I have known each other expectations for marriage from the beginning–although it's kind of funny, but my husband doesn't really have any expectations for me,–he's always said that he already knows my character and that it's impossible for me to be a bad wife. 😛 Sweet guy. I grew up in a country where domestic abuse is very common, where mistreatment of women is very common, so that's an area I'm very sensitive towards–I would not have married a man if he treated me as less than human.

  • This is cute! & fun. I don't really know if we every talked about this. We find ourselves constantly communicating though about our futures, and dreams, and goals so perhaps this is like this? I guess I always grew up saying I would never marry a smoker!

  • I love your pure honesty and I can’t agree more. To know each other’s expectations (I mean, we all have them!) is huge for any relationship. I prevents being blindsided in the future about things that could potentially end a relationship. And by the sounds of it your husband sounds like the perfect man for you! 🙂

  • It really is! This conversation doesn’t have to be a serious talk but it at least needs to be had at any point in a relationship. And what you’re discussing is also important! I’d love to hear about the conversation, should the two of you have it, and see how it went. You’ll find you begin to have a deeper connection when you talk about such important things 🙂

  • This is an interesting concept. I think most men and women have a list of non-negotiables, but many couples don't talk about them together. A friend of mine posted on Facebook this morning, "expectation without communication leads to conflict" and this is ringing even more true after reading your post. Thank you for sharing!

  • I agree with yours! Thankfully by God's awesomeness, my husband far exceeded my expectations. I know that when we first started dating, we both knew what we wanted in a spouse.. things like honesty, faithfulness, Christ-follower, and willing to go wherever God leads us instead of focusing so much on success or our selfish happiness were very important to us!

  • My husband is a fantastic and godly man.
    My only real non-negotiables is that he loves God and lives it out, loves my family, and is not harsh in his words. Also that he does what he says he will do, but we all mess up in that area, so you have to give grace for things like that 🙂
    Im blessed with an amazing hubby!

    Kristin // The Peculiar Treasure

  • That’s very true! I would never have felt comfortable talking to my ex about my non-negotiables because deep down I knew he didn’t fit the type of man I needed so it’s no wonder things didn’t work out and we ended up not being good for each other. However, having learned from that experience, lead me to my husband and changed how I valued my wants and needs from our relationship. Having this understanding further brings us closer and I love how we can have these kinds of discussions- especially as life causes this topic to pop up sometimes!

  • That’s so wonderful to hear! I love hearing testaments of God’s love and how he’s blessed you, your husband, and your family!

  • I love this! It seems all things have a way of working out in the end and I’m so happy to hear that you and your husband share the same values.

  • This is such a thought-inspiring post. I recently got engaged, so this is prime thinking for me. My fiance and I are also SUPER honest and open with one another and always have been, so I feel like we're at a really good place. I actually wrote a blog post also in response to an article I saw trying to rationalize cheating…I'd love your thoughts. (: