1/4 of Marriages With a Sick Spouse Will End in Divorce


divorcing sick spouse in the US

A recent study from the University of Michigan shows that marriage really isn’t “in sickness and in health” as the vow says. Data shows that nearly one third of married couples with an ill spouse become divorced. Read on to understand this statistic and find out how you can protect your self in such a situation.

Until Death Do Us Part?

While one would think that married men would be willing to stick by the sides of their wives, it is often not the case. Data shows that the likelihood of divorce increases when the wife experiences a chronic illness.

While women tend to relish their roles as caregivers, married men may often shy away from such a responsibility. It results in terrible situations where women have to bear the burden of both the debilitating sickness and the weight of a pending divorce.

Some Research Findings You Should Know

These disturbing statistics were generated after an exhaustive study of two decades worth of data on 2,717 marriages. The study examined the impact of specific life threatening illnesses on marriages between elderly couples (age 51-61). While men are much quicker to file for divorce from their ill wives, women are more inclined to stay with their husbands all the way until death.

Another study on the matter was published in 2009 in the journal “Cancer”. It shows that married women diagnosed with serious diseases are 6 times as likely to be separated or divorced compared to married men. This is important because the study wasn’t limited to a particular age cohort.

The study revealed that 21 percent of seriously ill women were divorced compared to only 3 percent of seriously ill men. When compared to a control group’s divorce rate of merely 12 percent it is clear that serious disease causes husbands to divorce while actually increasing the likelihood that wives will stay.

How You Can Protect Your Self in This Situation

The study’s results show just how vulnerable married women really are. They’re at a higher risk for both abandonment and becoming widowed. Aside from the theory that men aren’t comfortable in the role of caregiver is the possibility that women don’t believe that their husbands are capable of providing adequate care. Many women who fall ill prefer to be looked after by close friends and other family members.

It is also worth noting that the Michigan study didn’t track which party initiated the divorce. The report indicates that “in most cases” it is the women who initiate divorce. They likely seek separation because their husbands aren’t willing to put in the effort to care for them. This may be as a result of the difficult dynamic of continuing in a marriage after recovering from a severe illness during which one’s spouse refused to provide care.

Although this study’s data reveals the disturbing frequency of partner abandonment, it shouldn’t serve to scare singles away from marriage. Numerous studies have shown that married people are healthier than singles. Even with the potential for partner abandonment, life challenges are much easier to endure when a loved one is at your side.

Are You Getting a Divorce?

If you live in Pennsylvania and are facing a divorce for any reason, we can help! Our divorce lawyers understand this is one of the most difficult times in your life. We work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a consultation and put our years of experience on your side.

  1. Pamela R Winnick says:

    i’m the wife, he has cancer. don’t want him to get me money.

  2. Kristin sassi says:

    I have terminal breast cancer and have dealt with it for over 8 years. My husband can not support my changing needs and is not emotionally available and the marriage has turned toxic and I’d creating stress on my body and mind that I do not need. I need info on keeping his insurance etc

  3. Genet Sylvester says:

    After 25 years of marriage two wonderful children because my mental illness and my sons autism. The husband I thought he was wonderful to me and he’s children especially to his autistic son he got divorce went to Ukraine got married and bought a house. I could not believe it one time we was talking about mental illness. He said I am tired about autism and depression. I understood I understood clearly if he was talking about my mental illness. Because I’m away. But he was talking about autism about his son we thought it came through I was amazed and speechless for me I understood and accepted I was a race. But I cried For my autistic son. Because we brought him to this world both my husband and I. But he decided to go in as a country and get married leave us behind. Honestly I cried for my children. Because mother and father is supposed to example for their children. I was devastated when my divorce. Because of a good friend and strong daughter and a strong woman myself I survived when he bought a house and moved on with his life another country I paid for my son. Being an educated woman from another culture another country I thought I may not provide what my son needs. The king God he was already in the group home I survive and became stronger and taking care of my son three times a week. Also my daughter finish your study at the University and back home to help me. Now just a three of us me and my daughter myself. My ex-husband passed away about five years ago I am mowing for my children without a father. Because I grew up without a mother father to my father never cared to look for me. Thank God to assistant of American Government. My son is taken care of and I am so grateful my son is doing a good job I would never married. I will take care of my disabled son Call my life. My ex-husband did help me very long time. But when you get married for life and death that’s what I thought but I was fine. My father did to my mother too if you got married while she was sick even though I do not remember exactly when she die. I am not 100% sure but I think my grandfather picked me up and raised me what he can. It’s amazing to see Life Repeats itself. I think for me it was so painful when my mother was sick my father that married . And I told my husband because it was so painful to me. But my ex-husband Did exact same thing what my father did to my mother.

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