"In sickness and in health, till death do us part." These words are a famous part of the marriage vows taken by many people in Connecticut. Even with the best of intentions, however, serious illness can place a major burden on a marriage. This may be especially true when the underlying relationship is already strained or unhappy. Many people do not contemplate the difficulties that can arise when one person becomes seriously ill during a marriage. While one may expect that divorce is more likely in case of either partner's illness, statistics show that the actual results are highly gendered.
When the female partner in an opposite-sex relationship becomes seriously ill, the likelihood of divorce increases considerably. This is backed up by multiple clinical studies examining women with cancer and other diseases. While wives with cancer are more likely to divorce, other studies indicate that separation is even more likely when a woman has a stroke or heart disease. No similar effect has been observed for couples when the husband is seriously ill. In many cases, the marriages become stronger.
Most of the studies conducted have involved older couples, and the gendered results may be partially skewed due to this demographic information. These couples may be more likely to rely on traditional gender roles in which the wife is responsible for taking care of the husband. Of course, a serious illness generally requires the healthy partner to perform more of the caregiving.
Even when a couple has a solid agreement on gender roles and similar issues, serious problems can require a resolution. Divorce can be prompted by serious financial problems, infidelity, addiction or sheer incompatibility. People considering divorce can turn to a family law attorney for advice and guidance throughout the process, including addressing legal issues like spousal support and property division.