In Sickness and In Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution at Older Ages found that the probability of divorce rises when the wife gets sick.
“We did not have information on who initiated divorce in this study. But it’s important to keep in mind that in most cases, it’s women who do so,” she observed. “So it could be that when women become ill and their husbands are not doing a very good job caring for them, they would rather that he just go and they rely on friends and family who will take care of them.”
While generally a husband’s illness was not linked to divorce, by contrast, a wife becoming sick appeared to raise the possibility of marital dissolution. Oddly, the researchers found that when a wife suffered from heart or lung disease, an elevated divorce risk occurred; but cancer did not seem to increase the rate of couples separating. Another unusual discrepancy: the data indicated a slightly higher probability of divorce when a husband suffered a stroke, whereas a wife suffering a stroke did not decrease the survival rate of marriage. More research is needed.
May 1, 2014