More than half of the marriages in the United States will end in divorce. Divorce statistics in many of the other developed nations are almost as high. It seems that we are living in a society that believes in throw-away marriages.

Despite the traditional marriage vows most people make, most of which include the statement, “until death do us part,” marriage has become almost a casual relationship in many parts of society.

In particular, people in the public eye, such as entertainers, movie and television stars, and professional athletes, have extremely high divorce rates.

Additionally, in the U.S., policemen have a very high divorce rate, one of the highest of any profession. The reasons are legion: it’s a hazardous profession, the uniform, badge, gun and authority attract the opposite sex like a magnet, and dealing with the negative side of human nature makes a policeman cynical.

About fifty percent of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce and the stats are nearly as high in Russia, the UK, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. And almost two-thirds of second marriages end, while almost three-quarters of third marriages dissolve.

What ever happened to the vows taken in the marriage ceremony? Why are people divorcing instead of resolving their differences?

The lack of importance people place in marriage is evidenced by the number of couples who choose not to marry, but instead live together in “civil unions,” while still choosing to have children. Amongst the underprivileged it is not uncommon for a woman to have a number of children by different fathers.

The breakdown of the family as the center of domestic life is part of the cause of the lack of commitment to marriage. It is also the result of this lack of commitment.

The movement away from religious faith has also contributed to many people not taking their marriage vows seriously. Their lack of belief in a deity means that the vows they take “before God and man” have no real meaning in their minds.

Fortunately, divorce between couples with children is about forty percent less than that between couples with no children. But even within that smaller number, what message does it send to the children of these broken marriages that it is okay to separate and divorce? What sort of commitment can we expect from the children of divorced parents?

More than one-third of children come from broken homes and the average age for a first divorce is about thirty years old, the median age when most people have children. Thus, many children are raised in single parent-households during their formative years, a time when they need both male and female parental influences.

The divorce rate and the apparent lack of respect for marriage vows is a sad commentary on the state of our modern society. If marriage is no longer a sacred act between two people who are (or should be) making a lifelong commitment, then why marry at all?

We could revert to a primitive societal structure like the one amongst chimpanzees, where casual male-female relationships are the norm and promiscuity is universal. Females in estrus mate with any male who shows his desire for them, usually all the adult males.

This causes the paternity of these babies to be so in doubt that all the males act like all the young ones are their offspring. But at least the male chimps show some responsibility, unlike their human cousins.

Here’s one statistic that is telling: Among couples with strong religious beliefs and practices, the respect for marriage vows is much higher and divorce is much less common. A respect for their faith gives greater meaning to the promise they made in the eyes of their God.

Working at a marriage is harder than treating it as a casual liaison and only about half the couples in a marriage are willing to work at it.