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Marriages with seriously ill wives more likely to end in divorce

New Jersey couples in relationships in which one spouse is ill may be interested to learn about recent findings in a divorce study. Data reportedly demonstrates that marriages with wives that become seriously ill are 6 percent more likely to end in divorce than marriages in which neither spouse is ill. In the study, there was no increased chance of divorce for couples in which the husband was sick.

The study, which was based on data obtained from the Health and Retirement Study between 1992 and 2010, examined 2,701 couples in which one spouse had cancer, lung disease, heart problems or a stroke. At least one spouse in each couple was at least 51 years old, and among younger couples, divorce was more likely to end the marriage than the death of a spouse.

Serious illness and situations in which one spouse must become a caregiver to the other are always stressful for families, but the study did not find out who tended to initiate the divorces. According to the study's lead author, since women are more likely to be socialized as caregivers than men are, it is possible that they are dissatisfied with the level of care provided by their husbands.

When marriages end after an illness, it may be necessary to consider some of the same issues that caused stress during the marriage and discuss them with an attorney. For example, if the couple has minor children, the seriously ill spouse may be unable to care for them at all. The healthy spouse may want to ensure their ex-partner is cared for, and the ill spouse may be concerned about what kind of support they can receive.

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