Wife's illness may be detrimental to marriage

Pennsylvania couples may be interested to learn that a wife's poor health may lead to a greater chance of the couple divorcing. The Iowa State study analyzed approximately 2,700 marriages, and the research team was able to determine how a serious illness would affect the outcome of a marriage by reviewing information that spanned two decades. The data indicated that when a wife was diagnosed with a serious illness, there was a 6 percent greater chance that the couple divorced.

Information not available to the researchers was whether it was the wife or the husband who made the first move towards a divorce. Speculation as to why these spouses divorced included financial strain, altered roles within the relationship and wives' dissatisfaction with the care that they were receiving from their husbands. Researchers did note that older couples tended to remain together until their ill spouse passed away while younger couples were more inclined to divorce.

While researchers noted the significance of ill health and the role it played in the termination of marriages, there was no data to indicate that this was true when a husband was diagnosed with a critical illness. Out of the marriages that were analyzed for this study, 32 percent ended in divorce and 24 percent ended in the death of a spouse.

When one or both spouses are dissatisfied with their marriage, a divorce may be a suitable option for the couple. A serious or sudden illness can often bring about substantial medical bills, and depending upon its severity, the afflicted spouse may not be able to make financial contributions to the household's expenses. An attorney may be able to offer advice unique to the situation, including what rights and responsibilities a spouse should expect under the circumstances.

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