A new study by researchers from Iowa State University in Ames revealed that a divorce is likely to end a marriage when a wife gets ill seriously.
The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, shows that a marriage was more likely to end in divorce when a wife was diagnosed with one of four serious illnesses: cancer (except skin cancer), heart disease, lung disease and stroke. Researchers analyzed data from more than 2,700 marriages. However, a husband’s illness did not affect the chances of divorce.
Amelia Karraker, a lead author, and an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State, says that illness can stress marriage in a number of ways.
“One way that spouse illness can stress a marriage is when the healthy spouse is the primary caregiver and may also have to take on sole responsibility for supporting the household.”
“There is a difference between feeling too sick to make dinner and needing someone to actually feed you. That’s something that can really change the dynamics within a marriage. If your spouse is too sick to work, we know that financial strain is a major predictor of divorce in and of itself,” Prof. Karraker added.
According to Prof. Karraker, wives are generally less satisfied with the care they receive from their husbands. Reason for this is men have not been raised to be caregivers in the same way as women and may feel uncomfortable when thrust into the role.
Researchers did not find who initiates the divorces. However, the authors of the study suggest that, it is possible that women is ending the marriage because of dissatisfaction with the care they receive.
“Serious illness is a life or death experience that can make people stop and think about what is important in their lives,” Prof. Karraker explains. “Perhaps women are saying: “You’re doing a bad job of caring for me. I’m not happy with this, or I wasn’t happy with the relationship to begin with, and I’d rather be alone than be in a bad marriage.”