As a person who's been divorced more times than she ever intended to, I've come to a personal revelation. You probably have heard a version of what I'm about to say, but it is genuinely my flavor on the generally known wisdom on marriage and relationships. I'm not taking credit for the message only for the presentation.
So, to be transparent, I'm on my third marriage. I am no "expert" on marriage, just on myself. What I've noticed in life is that when things go wrong in relationships, some phenomenon happens where we are convinced it's the "other person." I believe that's where manipulation comes into play; if I could only get them to do this, stop this, think this way... etc.
But have we ever taken a step back to see more of the picture... more of the history of our relationships? The common denominator is "me" and "me" is many times associated with broken relationships. It stings... it might not be ALL my fault; but I'm looking at the part that IS my fault. It's the truth, like it or not. Why do we think we should get back out into dating after divorce after we get over the pain of separation? That is not the green light to get back into a relationship. Why do we seldom use these times to change ourselves? Why be the same person to everyone and expect different results? That's close to the definition of crazy.
And another fallacy to the idea that marriage will work with "the right person" is that deep down- we're pretty much the same... women and mostly like each other and men are mostly like each other. That's why we run into serial divorces. Perhaps in a divorce, you should actually "divorce" your self... or that version of you that contributed to a failed marriage; and if there are kids involved, contributed to a broken family. We give ourselves too many chances that we don't extend to other people.
Imagine if we stayed married and, rather than change the spouse, changed the "I". Literally, die to yourself... as is mentioned in the Bible. What I realized with my current and rich marriage is that my current husband isn't so different from other guys. He's special and has a unique life experience. The thing that makes this marriage work out better is that I've done the changing.
Perhaps the main idea is that we should be open to changing for the better instead of expecting everyone to swallow our excuses or manipulation. I'm GLAD I'm not who I was ten years ago; I'd be ashamed if I didn't allow myself to improve and grow as a person. I'm a stubborn person but I'm glad I've learned to be stubborn about the right things and not just to assert my "presence." Sometimes we can even make something negative (like my stubbornness) into something more positive (like channeling it into my discipline toward faith and relationships).
And as a final thought: if divorce is such an easy thing for "past me" and society to resort to, perhaps we never really became united. If we really did marriage the way that leads to lifelong unions is to become and to consider ourselves to be "one flesh"... to consider divorce as killing two people (or more if children are involved). If we really grasped that concept, would we decide to cut half of themselves out of their life? By that logic, we'd be killing ourselves. We should not be able to survive divorce... but society makes it common-stance. The concept of letting a judge finalize when a parent can see their own children... the idea that children should only have half the time (or less) with a parent outside of death... We should feel heart broken as a SOCIETY!
That is one thing that I took for granted until recently. I never factored in the benefits of having my parents stay together and not having the lifestyle required by divorce. I never had to choose a parent over another. I never had to call my parent to talk to them. I really need to work on this vein of compassion for my fellow citizens. The first time we ever are introduced to divorce, many times, is before WE have ever been married at all. And for people who want to give their children what they (never) had or more- how can we choose divorce (outside of being in harm and in the safety interest of the children)?
Outside of championing for one marriage for a lifetime, I want to send out a message of redemption and grace. It's never too late to move in the right healthy direction while you're still breathing. Blessing is but a choice away. I believe that we can have lifelong marriages, even after a divorce. I believe that we can make divorce something that is rare and strong relationships commonplace. For me, I work on my relationship with God first, then I keep myself in check, and lastly, I work on our marriage WITH my husband. The interpersonal component comes last, not because the spouse is considered last; but because in order for me to expect something from another person, I better be prepared to give it to them with prayer and self enrichment. And that is not my idea, but evidence of my submission to Christian lessons on marriage.
I wish for you all a wonderful marriage, personal life and family life! If you're miserable in your marriage/relationships, I wish for you a revival of love and personal growth.