Husbands Divorce Their Sick Wives, But Why?

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As the years go by, health tends to decline.  Old age brings new struggles for married couples, and one of those difficulties is illness.  But, illness doesn’t only apply to the elderly; a diagnosis can change both a person’s life, and married life, suddenly.

Some couples are capable of staying together and caring for each other “through sickness and health,” but for other couples that promise is impossible to keep.  The added stress, both emotional and financial, of an illness can be the breaking point in a marriage that just wasn’t meant to work out.

But, some interesting statistics reveal that the proportion of traditional couples that get a divorce after the onset of an illness may depend on who fell ill — the man or the woman. According to an article from the Huffington Post, when it’s the wife that gets sick, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan and Indiana University kept track of more than 2,000 marriages between 1992 and 2010.  The focus was on marriages where both partners started out in good health in the attempt to record how the onset of a life threatening sickness affected marriage quality.

According to the evidence revealed during the study, “women are doubly vulnerable to marriage dissolution in the face of illness.”  Fifteen percent of marriages where the wife got the diagnosis resulted in a divorce. But, why are men more likely to leave when their wife gets sick?

Unfortunately, the research did not answer that question.  Researchers theorize that gender roles and norms about caregiving, and who is responsible for it, play a part. Essentially, the idea is that providing care to spouses is more difficult for men than for women.

But, speculation only goes so far and there is no satisfactory explanation for these interesting preliminary findings.   Regardless of the reasons why a couple chooses to get a divorce, or who chooses to request the divorce, the process can strenuous for everyone involved.

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to assist and guide you.

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About Julie Clark

Julie M. Clark graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. She has been practicing law in Riverside County since February of 1992. Julie Clark's Google+ Profile

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