I can't sit here and pretend to know anything about marriage. I've heard that "marriage isn't easy; it requires a lot of give and take." I can, however, tell you about divorce. Growing up you never think that your parents will fall out of love. How could they? And while you may always be too young to understand the ins and outs of your parent's relationship, divorce affects more than just the people married. Researcher Judith Wallerstein proved in her well-known study on divorce that an unhappy marriage is better than no marriage for children. Not only are kids oblivious to the flaws in the marriage, but no marriage at all can have negative long-term effects on the children, especially in future relationships. However, a limitation of this experiment was that Wallerstein did not study high-conflict marriage, where divorce is not a problem that needs to be fixed; it's a solution.
Parents often tell their children that "mommy and daddy don't love each other anymore," even if there are other reasons for splitting up. Divorce is difficult for children to understand so this is the line that is fed most often to them. Therefore, the one concept children struggle with the most is how could parents fall out of love? To answer this question we have to define love. The internet defines love as "an intense feeling of deep affection," but I think TIME is more accurate with their article titled "We Are Defining Love The Wrong Way," in which Rabbi David Wolpe states that Too many women have told me, bruises visible on their faces, that the husbands who struck them love them.
Since they see love as a feeling, the word hides the truth, which is that you do not love someone whom you repeatedly beat and abuse. You may have very strong feelings about them, you may even believe you cannot live without them, but you do not love them. When I was growing up my mom always told me that it was her job to teach me to distinguish between "a man who flatters me and a man who compliments me; a man who spends money on me and a man who invests in me; a man who lusts after me and a man who loves me." I never realized how important it is to be able to distinguish between lust and love. These two words are so different, but society uses them interchangeably.
So how should love be defined then? I believe that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says it best: "Love is patient and kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails."
So now try to put your spouse or significant others name as a substitute every time those verses refer to love. Can you do so without laughing? If not, then your relationship might be based more on lust than love. This doesn't mean that it will never have a firm foundation of love; it just means that it will take time to build this kind of sturdy foundation. The problem is not divorce; the problem is the lack of willingness to foster the type of love a marriage requires. The biggest misconception about divorce is that it causes a home to be broken when in reality the home was broken, to begin with. Divorce allows there to be two strong support systems that are much healthier than one dysfunctional family unit. Coming from a divorced family, this is something I wish I understood as a child.