Most Helpful Guy
Wow, there's a lot going on in that question.
My background: I've been married for 25 years and it's the best decision I've ever made. My view of marriage agrees with and perhaps was inspired by religious beliefs, but religion is not the main thing behind my rationale, nor was it ever. Now you know my biases. (Everybody has them.)
Divorce was created for a reason. To me, it's a last resort to end a marriage when someone or both partners went into it being selfish or having no clue what marriage really entails. The intent behind marriage is to have a partner for life; it's more than a milestone on the path of serial monogamy. To me, divorce is always a failure. Sometimes it's merely a failure of a couple to realize what they were getting themselves into. When my friends or family goes through one, a part of me is always sad, even if she was being abused or he was trying to protect their kids from a drug addled mother. (Both in my circle of friends, yes.) It doesn't mean these people don't deserve my compassion and understanding. Of course they do! It doesn't mean they shouldn't divorce. Yes, it exists for a reason. So people should never attack you. But I can't help but root for married couples because, when they are successful, they show an ideal to the world.
I think the "death sentence" notion may come from people who see marriage differently than I do. I can understand it. Do I wish my wife was fundamentally different than she is? Yeah, sure, in some ways. And I'm no picnic either. So I get the humor in it, but to take it literally just makes me sad.