After nearly 19 years of marriage, Robin Williams and his wife are divorcing. Williams and his wife have two children together.

Marsha Garces Williams filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on March 21 in San Francisco Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. The two met when Garces Williams worked as a nanny for Williams' son Zachary, whom he had with his previous wife, Valerie Valardi.

Such a story is disappointing, but hardly surprising. Sometimes it feels as though the institution of marriage is dying in America, and I wouldn’t be surprised if kids today have absolutely no confidence in it because they're immersed in divorce. Sadly, we can't even point to our churches for an alternative vision, because the rhetoric is empty, and the theological implications aren’t daunting. Religion simply doesn’t prevent divorce. As one divorce recovery expert put it, "pain trumps theology." This is a fact.

It’s easy to look at Robin Williams and think, “Of course he’s divorcing again, he’s a celebrity.” Except that nearly 50% of first marriages are dissolving in our country, just as Williams’ first marriage did, and nearly 70% of second marriages are ending in divorce, just as his second marriage did. One million kids every year are hit by the pain of parents that decide to put their "happiness" and "freedom" above that of their kids, family, friends, spouses, and the stability of our society. Seven out of ten marriages are filed by women across America, and 75% percent of divorced male fathers loose their kids to custody battles. This means that 75% percent of "divorce kids" grow up without a meaningful male figure in their lives and the "new luxury" of having two parents at home. What a disheartening and unbelievable cultural trend!

We can take divorce as a sociological problem and study it analytically by statistical reports. We can look at it from the psychological perspective and decide that men and women are simply "screwed up." But my take after many years of research and listening to people going through the pain of divorce is that DIVORCE IS THE SYMPTOM OF A DEEPER PROBLEM.

I’m not a religious person and the LIFE ZONE is not a religious movement. Our workshops, conferences and seminars are not religious events. But we have come to believe that DIVORCE is a symptom of a profound, deep, spiritual dimension, a symptom of the state of the human heart.

People only stay together and connected on the basis of LOVE. We may have a difficult time defining love. But the foundation for community, family and marriage is still LOVE. The problem very often arises when we define LOVE. Statements such as “I don’t love her any longer,” are confusing at best. Since when was LOVE supposed to be all about feelings and emotions? Doesn’t love begin as a feeling and progressively becomes more and more an act of the WILL? It’s always been that way! Couples who have been married for 50 or 60 years don’t stay married because they “feel in love” the way they did when they first met and got married; they stay married because of a promise and a commitment.

Imagine if mothers only love babies when they’re clean, fed and well-behaved. We know what LOVE means in the parenting department, but then why do we define it differently for marriage? We know what it means when a soldier goes to war and he says, “I do it because I LOVE my country.” It means he made a commitment of WILL, and he will follow through with it. Why the inconsistency when it comes to marriage?

LOVE is the emotional ability and the WILL to connect with people in meaningful ways based on commitment and character, not just feelings! LOVE is a feeling, of course, but more than anything else LOVE remains an act of the WILL.

Truthfully divorce happens when one spouse or both say: “I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO LOVE YOU ANYMORE OR I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO ALLOW YOU TO LOVE ME ANYMORE.” Simple enough! All the cliché statements we hear like "I no longer have feelings for her" and "She hurt me too much and I lost it all," are cosmetic statements to express one reality: “FOR WHATEVER REASON, I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO LOVE THIS PERSON ANY LONGER AND I DON'T CARE TO OPEN UP TO BE LOVED BY THAT PERSON, EITHER.” It's the ultimate act of total self-containment.

Thus, there are three conditions that precede a divorce:

1. There has to be a CHOICE not to love or be loved any longer.

Love is a CHOICE. Divorce is a choice not to love or allow to be loved any longer. Love may start as a feeling but it's always and ultimately a CHOICE. True love puts others first over our needs for well being, happiness, freedom and self-fulfillment. Love is true love when the crisis and the tests of life put a relationship at risk. Love happens when your child inconveniences you beyond your natural patience and you choose to put that kid first in your commitment anyway. LOVE IS THE OPPOSITE OF CONVENIENCE! Everything in our culture is about convenience. There isn’t much encouragement to follow any higher principle than convenience!

2. LOVE as a spiritual force for renewal must cease to be.

Love may start as a feeling, but at the end LOVE is a spiritual force. Love is more than hormones and physical realities. When we fail to see that vision of LOVE we’ve fallen into the biggest trap! When Jesus spoke of divorce he said that the root of divorce is "the hardness of the heart" (Matthew 19:1-8) Simply put, he said "Divorce should not happen except when people are not willing to forgive and keep their hearts open." Divorce is the result of a human CHOICE. Forgiveness is a function of spirituality. The deepest crisis of a marriage can become the gate to forgive, change, love and be loved. People who don't believe people can change don’t see the need to forgive or be forgiven.

3. LOVE as a principle that puts other's interests first must cease to be!

There’s no way around it: The opposite of love is selfishness, self-interest, convenience, and a need to soothe our own personal pain!

I like the following because it describes TRUE LOVE:

“Love never gives up,
Love cares more for others than self,
Love doesn't have what it doesn't have,
Love doesn't strut,
Love doesn't have a swelled head,
Love doesn't force itself on others,
Love isn't always "me first,"
Love doesn't fly off the handle,
Love doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Love doesn't revel when other grovel,
Love takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth,
Love puts up with anything,
Love trusts God always,
Love looks for the best,
Love never looks back,
Love keeps going to the end,
Love never dies.”

[The Message, Eugene Peterson, NavPress, 2002, p. 2085]

There are two forces in the universe: LOVE and FEAR.

LOVE as a CHOICE is the most powerful force in the universe.

LOVE brings people together; FEAR makes them fight and run from each other. LOVE deals with the promise made and the frustrations of a long-term relationship; FEAR makes people run away to what “feels” and “looks” safe. LOVE is creative and refreshingly dynamic; FEAR cares only for the gratification of the moment. LOVE faces pain and difficulties with positive actions; FEAR wears the mask of convenience and personal comfort.

Divorce is a symptom of a much deeper problem than what psychologists and attorneys are hearing every day. It’s a symptom of a heart that has lost its ability to CHOOSE LOVE, has lost its spiritual component and has lost the character to put others first.

I can’t analyze why a celebrity is divorcing for the second time because I don’t know him or his spouse. I can’t say for certain what will happen to either of them or their two children in the future, either. But I know what the statistics say is probable, and those statistics leave little reason for me to be optimistic for them, or for the state of marriage in general.

If you’re on the verge of considering divorce, think twice. Share this article with someone who’s considering divorce. Even if you’re already divorced, it's not too late to be honest and declare that divorce is not the answer to marriage and family problems. Most people and children carry the scars of divorce for life!

Maybe your influence could spare others, including your kids, from walking into the trap of believing that marriage is about happiness; that marriage is about convenience; that marriage is for those who are “in love." Our culture needs people that are willing to take a stand and stop the vicious trend of casual divorce.

Author's Bio: 

Harold J. Duarte-Bernhardt is co-founder of the "LIFE ZONE." Harold is a consultant, a seminar speaker and a LIFE Motivational Coach. The "LIFE ZONE" is a resource and a coaching center for personal and spiritual growth committed to providing sound strategies for dynamic living and LIFE FITNESS. Harold believes that PAIN is the greatest window into the best life has to offer! PAIN is never pleasant, it's never fun; but great people have always faced PAIN and difficult times before they found the key to a magnificent life. Harold resides in Southern California and is the father of four wonderful human beings! For more information and coaching visit: or call 1-888-MYZONE2 (699-6632)