I think we have a tendency to divide couples into two groups – those who are married, and those who have divorced. We see the first group as good, and the second as bad. The former we should emulate, latter we should not.
Thing is, some of the folks in the “married” category are neither loving nor caring, are not living marriage as God intended, and most certainly are not an example to be praised or followed. In short, not getting divorced is not enough; it’s setting the bar far too low. It’s like dividing people between “alive and dead” without any differentiation between someone on life support and someone who can run a marathon.
While it is statistically true that a bad marriage is better for kids than a divorce (the exception being when there is abuse), it’s far better for the kids to be in a marriage where mom and dad truly love and care for each other. Kids who see love first hand are more likely to have good marriages, and are less likely to do stupid things sexually and in many other ways.
Let’s set the bar higher, much higher. Being married 25 years is not impressive if the couple has been angry and/or miserable most of that time. I can honour them for sticking it out, but how much better to have worked through things so they have a good marriage.
I hear “divorce is not an option” and I’m all for that, but let’s go the next step to “staying broken and miserable is not an option”. A goal of not divorcing does nothing for a marriage other than maybe keeping it going; a goal of making the marriage better ends any reason for divorce.