Divorce After a Serious Illness

A major source of stress on a marriage often occurs when one partner falls prey to a serious illness. Although many marriages can and do weather the storm of sickness, a new study indicates that the likelihood of divorce increases substantially after illness, particularly if the wife is afflicted.

Researchers studied divorce rates among couples where one spouse was diagnosed with a major illness such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease or stroke. Couples had a greater probability of divorce if wives got sick (6 percent over marriages with healthy wives), but no increase in probability if a husband was struck ill.

While the study did not try to ascertain the causes, researchers speculate that healthy spouses often serve as the primary caregiver, while remaining responsible for household affairs. Compounding the stress is the financial strain of serving as primary breadwinner. Additionally, most men are uncomfortable in the role of personal caregiver, and women may be less satisfied with the care they receive from their husbands.

Other possible causes could be the life-changing nature of serious illnesses that often spur people to reevaluate their lives, and possibly the state of their marriages. Another factor could be that since more couples are getting divorced later in life, marriages that previously would have ended in widowhood are now ending in divorce.

The study encompassed 2,701 marriages and covered 20 years. The minimum age for at least one spouse was 51 years old at the beginning of the study period. Younger couples in the study were more likely to get divorced. A total of 32 percent of all the marriages ended in divorce.

Divorce can be very stressful, so if you need sound legal guidance through this process, meet with the knowledgeable Long Island family law attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates right away. 

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