Do Chronic and Terminal Illnesses Increase Your Chances of Getting Divorced? (Pt 2)

Living with a chronic, or even ultimately terminal illnesses

Hi there and welcome back. If you recall from the previous article on this rather touchy subject, we dived into the issues that come up when one spouse gets sick, and the other spouse is forced to carry a double load. As we mentioned before, in the case of chronic illnesses, we’re not talking about having a tough time for a few days, or even a week or two. We’re talking about spouses that have to be the primary breadwinner, the primary caregiver, and carry the weight of the household for a very long time. Months, and in many cases even years. It’s exhausting, and stressful, and causes many marriages to fail.

But did you know that it’s not the same across the gender lines?

Yup, you read that right – how likely a marriage is to fail is affected by the gender of the sick spouse, and the gender of the caregivers. A study done by Amelia Karraker, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, reveals that when the going gets tough in marriages (from a sickness standpoint), it’s men that cut and run more often than women. Did you see that coming? Men leave their sick wives more often than women leave their sick husbands, according to an analysis of 20 years of research.

Divorce is tough. When you’re sick it’s even tougher.

The study looked at how four chronic illnesses affect marriages, specifically cancer, lung disease, stroke, and heart conditions. According to the findings, about 31% of marriages ended in divorce when one of the spouses was diagnosed with one of these four conditions. “Married women diagnosed with a serious health condition may find themselves struggling with the impact of their disease while also experiencing the stress of divorce.” Karraker says.

Who leaves whom, and who ends up getting sick?

In fact, women are twice as likely as men to be left by their spouse when they get sick. “We found that women are doubly vulnerable to marital dissolution in the face of illness,” Karraker explained. “They’re more likely to be widowed, and if they are the ones who become ill, they’re more likely to get divorced.” Interestingly enough, there was another factor that came into play as well. Namely, while men tended to be the ones who divorced their sick spouses more often, the data also showed that it was men who ended up being ‘the sick spouse’ more often than women. So why do so many women stay with their ailing husbands, while so many men leave their sick wives?

Why do marriages fail, and what can be done about it?

The truth is, your guess is as good as ours. Karraker didn’t know (because the study didn’t address that issue) and we certainly don’t have the answers. Unless you’re asking about divorce in Michigan, in which case we have lots of answers for you. So if you’re considering getting divorced for any reason – it doesn’t have to be illness related – we’re here to help you. Call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to one of our highly regarded family law attorneys. We’re here to help.


Stephanie just finished settling my divorce case. She did an excellent job handling every aspect of the case. When I came to her looking for an attorney, not knowing what was to come, angry and upset, she did excellent job reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. She explained the divorce process, what I could expect over the next few months and outlined the possible outcomes. She was well aware of my financial situation and very limited expendable income and did a great job doing whatever she could to keep my costs down. At times she would even remind me that she is happy to pursue any direction I wanted to go, but the cost involved may not outweigh the outcome. She did an excellent job letting me know where I could do things myself rather than paying the firm to do it as well as provided assistance to make sure I did it in the proper manner. And what was most impressive is a meeting with the ex and her lawyer. Stephanie actually had her phone out pulling up case law and verifying it to make sure the ex and her lawyer didn’t get something over on me. VERY IMPRESSIVE!. If you want an excellent attorney who isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear just to increase the cost for the firm’s benefit, call Stephanie Service.

Brian on Avvo, 2014

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