First, the divorce rate is not currently higher than ever. It has been higher in the past. Unfortunately, the reason the divorce rate is declining is likely because fewer people are marrying, not because fewer married people are choosing not to divorce.
Second, there are some people who simply aren’t able to handle marriage, and there are times when divorce is not only justified, but necessary. But divorce for the sake of escaping chronic domestic violence, death, or crippling mental or emotional cruelty (among other good reasons) is clearly not why roughly half of all marriages end. Avoiding or ending marriage to avoid pain and disappointment makes about as much sense as refusing to drive your car to ensure you don’t get hurt in an accident; there’s more than enough pain and disappointment life holds for all of us, and it cannot be avoided, so denying yourself the benefits of marriage (or the convenience and freedom of driving), even after accounting for the costs, is silly.
Now to answer your question itself: Why is the divorce rate so high? Placing self-interest before the success of the marriage and family. People have started believing for the past couple of generations that marriage is a matter of individual preference and worth. In other words, if I am not happy in my marriage, then the marriage must be worthless, so I am justified in divorcing. This is as foolish as it is pointless.
We’re seeing the effects of disposable marriage on society at large as a result of such a mindset: less happiness (not more), more mental illness, more juvenile delinquency, rising crime rates, rising poverty, the growth of the welfare state to substitute for the nuclear family, etc.
Children (and we were all children once) need a loving mother and a father (yes, I realize that many children succeed in spite of the loss of one parent, but ask them if they are “glad” they didn’t have the benefits of a loving mother and father growing up and they’ll tell you they ache for it even now). Children fare much better in a nuclear family than in any other environment. The nuclear family is the bedrock of an ordered, safe, prosperous society.
Paradoxically, individual happiness depends greatly (though not solely) on caring about and facilitating the happiness of others. And there is no better way to develop a happiness-producing, less selfless routine and character than being a spouse and a parent. This is why, despite marriage and parenthood being so demanding and even at times heartbreaking, loving couples and parents will tell you the blessings and joys outweigh the demands and sacrifices. Marriage and family make us better people, and better people are happier people. So are their kids, and so are their kids friends and families too.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277