Does a serious illness drive a couple closer to divorce?

When a wife is diagnosed with a serious and potentially fatal disease such as cancer, the natural thought is that the husband will do everything he can to provide the necessary care and comfort during these undoubtedly difficult times. In fact, most people probably think that the couple will ultimately grow closer, bonding over their respective trials and tribulations. Interestingly enough, this may not be the case, as the husband may actually prove more likely to seek a divorce.

A groundbreaking study published in the medical journal Cancer back in 2009, examined the divorce rates among couples where one spouse was diagnosed with a very serious illness.

Shockingly, researchers discovered that when a wife is diagnosed with a serious illness, the marriage is actually seven times more likely to result in a dissolution of marriage. Specifically, they determined the divorce rate to be only three percent for men diagnosed with a serious illness versus 21 percent for women diagnosed with a serious illness.

“Most people, when they think about ‘in sickness and in health,’ imagine themselves at age 70 or 80, with their spouse in bed with pneumonia,” said Cassidy W., whose husband left her shortly after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “They’re not picturing having a sick partner when they’re young – the months of treatment, the financial challenges. Cancer throws a lot at a couple.”

Unfortunately, these relatively high rates of divorce mean that not only must many women cope with their debilitating and frightening illnesses by themselves, but that they must also cope with the inherent sadness of their marriage coming to an end.

What then is behind this behavior? Specifically, why are some men more likely to seek a divorce after their wives receive a difficult diagnosis?

To be continued

To learn more about dissolution of marriage or life after divorce, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

Related Resources:

When spouse gets sick – who leaves? (CNN)