Definitely not. Consider the merits of an amicable and mutually agreed divorce against continuing with a violent or abusive marriage. Divorce and a new life is always going to be the better way to go.
A violent or strife torn marriage is not a good place to be. Most of us would agree that in this case the divorce is the better option and does not truly represent failure. Failure would be to stay in such a relationship as a lifetime of misery can in no sense be regarded as a success.
Is this a successful relationship?
However, what about a dull, boring, dysfunctional, sexless husk of a marriage? Can that be considered a success and the ending of it a failure? That depends on how the two people in the marriage feel about it. Do they both feel trapped in an empty space or are they OK with a degree of companionship, a degree of autonomy and a large dollop of ritual and routine.
What makes it a success?
So what are the criteria for success? Everyone gets married with the best of intentions and with every expectation of a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment. In the course of living together over time things happen to people and those things often cause them to change. If both partners change together then this is enjoyable and natural process. If not this can set up stresses within the marriage which can undermine the structure of the relationship.
A key divorce provoking event is the growing up or departure of the children from the family home as one of the main purposes of the marriage, the raising of children has now been completed. This often turns attention towards the quality of the marriage itself. If this also coincides with retirement then it is a potent trigger for a reassessment of the marriage. All too often the quality of that relationship is found to be wanting. This is the time to take action to reinvigorate your relationship at this critical point in the life of your marriage.
A marriage can just run out of steam
Sometimes it's just that one or both just feel they no longer want to be married, the relationship has run its course. There are specific grounds or reasons upon which the court will grant a divorce. However, all you really need to do is say that one of you is guilty of unreasonable behaviour which has lead to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Sounds a bit heavy but don't worry, the court is not interested in whether this is true only that you are prepared to say that it is.
Now this was never the intention as it was an "until death us do part" arrangement witnessed by family and friends at a lavish ceremony often at considerable expense. So is that marriage a failure or was it a success that had outrun its time? Until we contract a marriage for a given period of time with an optional renewal, then yes it is a failure. But how realistic would that be?
The simple answer that is very difficult to achieve
So what determines a successful marriage, probably one that is built on love, trust and friendship, one that is kind and understanding. One in which you can grow together and mutually deepen the relationship. Wow! Now that would be good.