Why couples don't get married

In sickness and in health: How illness affects the risk of divorce


May 1, 2014
Brain & Behavior, Health

In the classic marriage vow, couples promise to stay together in sickness and in health. But a new study finds that the risk of divorce among older married couples rises when the wife—but not the husband—becomes seriously ill.

“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,” said Amelia Karraker, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, who presents her findings May 1 at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America.

Karraker and co-author Kenzie Latham of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis analyzed 20 years of data on 2,717 marriages from the Health and Retirement Study, conducted by the Institute for Social Research since 1992. At the time of the first interview, at least one of the partners was over the age of 50.

The researchers examined how the onset of four serious physical illnesses—cancer, heart problems, lung disease and stroke—affected marriages.

They found that, overall, 31 percent of marriages ended in divorce over the period studied. The incidence of new chronic illness onset increased over time as well, with more husbands than wives developing serious health problems.

“We found that women are doubly vulnerable to marital dissolution in the face of illness,” Karraker said. “They are more likely to be widowed, and if they are the ones who become ill, they are more likely to get divorced.”

While the study did not assess why divorce is more likely when wives but not husbands become seriously ill, Karraker offers a few possible reasons.

“Gender norms and social expectations about caregiving may make it more difficult for men to provide care to ill spouses,” Karraker said. “And because of the imbalance in marriage markets, especially in older ages, divorced men have more choices among prospective partners than divorced women.

“We did not have information on who initiated divorce in this study. But it’s important to keep in mind that in most cases, it’s women who do so. So it could be that when women become ill and their husbands are not doing a very good job caring for them, they would rather that he just go and they rely on friends and family who will take care of them.”

Given the increasing concern about health care costs for the aging population, Karraker believes policymakers should be aware of the relationship between disease and risk of divorce.

“Offering support services to spousal caregivers may reduce marital strain and prevent divorce at older ages,” she said. “But it’s also important to recognize that the impetus for divorce may be health-related and that sick ex-wives may need additional care and services to prevent worsening health and increased health expenditures.”

Karraker is a National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Fellow at the ISR Population Studies Center.


81 Responses to In sickness and in health: How illness affects the risk of divorce

  1. Tshepo kekana 13365437 May 8, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    One person’s illness is a stress on the couple and has also been identified as a reason for decreased marital quality.
    Because women tend to be caregivers, it can cause extra strain when a man has to assume the role thus causing nothing but divorce.
    “Women are more willing and able to battle for love. When a stressor like illness comes into play, the man will disappear and the woman will be the one to fight,

  2. u14141371 May 8, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    it is really devastating to know that women go through divorce when they are ill. I wonder what happened to in sickness and in health till death do us apart. where the spark of love had disappeared to I really don’t understand. I thought that when they decided to take their vows it was because they believed that their love would stand the test of time, this blog gives me grief because I was wrong

  3. Kagiso May 8, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    “In sickness and in health”,a phrase which is misinterpreted to literally mean in sickness and in health.The phrase means that your partner will be there for you through tough times,to love,care and remind you that even if the world turns against you just because he/she loves you they`ll be there.The issue of men being less caring than women is a general misconception,a misguided norm.

  4. u14135681 May 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Research tells us that the reason why men left their wives was because the wives weren’t satisfied with the way they were being taken care of. Women don’t understand that they were created in different reasons . Men weren’t created to nurture like women .Yes, men did vow to their wives to be there in sickness and in health but in one way or another we break promises.

  5. Kutlwano May 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    14084822 (Sesing TK). Sickness adds to the already (however enjoyable) heavy burden of marriage in a very exponential way. It adds strain to many aspects such as the financial and emotional situation pf the spouse. Divorce is also influenced upon by the foundation of the marriage: were both parties brought together or were there some circumstances that pushed them together.

  6. 14182671 May 5, 2014 at 3:51 am #

    not only due to statistics can one agree to the fact that sickness of a partner in a marriage have high influence in divorce.Mostly when women get sick no one is there to take care of them unlike when men are sick they have their wife to take care of them.Men dont tend to understand when it is the women’s turn to get sick which lead to divorce

  7. 14223393 May 5, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    i agree with the article, lots of men tend to change their vows when illness knock to their wives. it is in their nature to do so, men seems as if they define love in a different way as women that’s one of the reason men think divorce is the answer when one’s health is no more in good condition

  8. Moila Makoma (14080959) May 4, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    ”In sickness and in health “this is an agreement between two people basically it has to be considered. What is running in my mind is how can you leave someone you love just because he/she is sick? Marriage is about lifting each other up in conditions like this, why run away because you vowed that ‘till death do you apart’ basically I don’t believe that illness can cause a divorce but it should be the moment that you get closer to you partner to show that you love and care for them. I know women are more nurturing than men but in conditions like this men should also play their role.

  9. mutshidzi 14051461 May 4, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    According to this blog women care so much when their spouse is ill than men do of which I agree, women are so emotional and naturing and when it comes to men indeed it is something else they care more about you in health and not in sickness forgetting that they vowed to care in sickness and in health,. Once they know that their wife is infected with a serious illness they tend to feel that she is no longer important and her days are numbered forgetting the vow, so they star bringing up the issue of divorce. As for women they are afraid to lose their husband, they think of the kids and house responsibilities, which is not so for men. Men needs healthy wives and they can divorce a mother of his children in order to get another healthy wife.

  10. u14134617 May 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    After reading this article and from previous information regarding divorce and sickness it is mainly the man who cannot deal with the sickness of his wife and hence turns to divorce in my opinion the reason for this is due to the fact that women in most cases are much more patient and can withstand a lot more pressure than a man, however this is not enough to justify that all males are of this nature, because there are many husbands out their who do posses the fine charming qualities of an ideal husband they care for their wives in sickness and in many cases they tend to start appreciating their wives more than ever before realizing the importance of her well being and how much she actually contributed to the nourishment of their marriage as the saying goes u only realize what you had once its gone. Many of the comments are quite bias as in most divorce cases its the husband and wife that go against their wedding vows.

  11. Duncan 14008671 May 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Firstly I would like to accentuate the fact that the article was based in the United states. People who live in other countries and continents follow different beliefs and form part of different cultural systems where a vow has more meaning or permanence to it. Secondly one of the biggest problems with the research that was done is that it only includes couples where at least one of the spouses is over 50. This excludes the majority of married couples, yes theoretically a couple that have been together for a longer period of time will have more reason to stay together than say one where the couple is 30 years old. We live in a different time to them, we have been raised as a new generation where something like feminism has gained a lot more support and power than it used to, where in the participating couples youth, it was the social norm for the father to be the breadwinner whilst the mother stayed at home and looked after the kids and raised them, and at most would have a small part time jobs teaching children how to swim or something along those lines. Where as now, when we look at a family both genders have equal responsibility in raising the family and providing for the family.

    “We did not have information on who initiated divorce in this study. But it’s important to keep in mind that in most cases, it’s women who do so. So it could be that when women become ill and their husbands are not doing a very good job caring for them, they would rather that he just go and they rely on friends and family who will take care of them.” This quote shows that there is quite a big lack of information, what is stopping us from assuming that the researchers do not even know what the cause of the divorce was? It is so easy for them to say that the reason the participants got divorced was because one of the parties became sick, there are countless other reasons that were the cause of the divorce. Examples include the couples wanting to get a divorce before the diagnosis but decided not to because of the history the couple have shared together, or maybe the sick spouse feels that it is unfair for them to putting all this extra stress and pressure onto their spouse, these are just 2 reasons for divorce in the situation.

    According to the findings, 31% of marriages ended in divorce, I do not see how that is vastly different from the rate in America, with some states having about a 50% divorce rate. Taking all of what has been said in to account, I do not believe that sickness can cause divorce to be more frequent, I believe that it can act as a catalyst as it can change the situation and the way people think but it is not the main cause for the divorce, it simply helps to materialise the divorce papers.

  12. Tiisetso Mokasi 14081246 May 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    I think fear is what leads to one partner divorcing the other partner when ill simply because no one wants to grow old. In marriage should it not be about “we” rather than “I”. If that is how partners would respond to their ill partners, seeking to desert them at a time when needed most , then why vow to “in sickness and in health”?

  13. u14267510 May 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    I agree with the above article. the reason for this is because men aren’t as king and loving as women, men will find the easy way out, even if it is to go against the oath that they swore the day they got married.

  14. u13120094 May 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    this article is good and it is telling the truth according to my view because mostly men are the ones who devorce their wives when they are sick or ill and this is not good thing to do because most of them when they get married they promise not to separate no matter what will happen between them.but when their wife get sick they overcome the woman power and divorce them because the cannot be able to take care of them.

  15. 14448514 May 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    i have read many articles on this same topic that have coined the term “till sickness do us part”. illustrating that many marriages end within a period of illness. it has been said that wives who fall ill are more likely to divorce their husbands especially when specific roles are seen as not being fulfilled by their counterparts. one can say that it all boils down to how seriously one takes their marriage and thus their marriage vows. one can also say that this is a pattern that needs to be examined.

  16. 13120094 May 4, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    this article is good and it is telling the truth according to my view because mostly men are the ones who devorce their wives when they are sick or ill and this is not good thing to do because most of them when they get married they promise not to separate no matter what will happen between them.but when their wife get sick they overcome the woman power and divorce them because the cannot be able to take care of them.

  17. u14042658 May 4, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    I completely agree with this because I believe men are not as nurturing as women are. Yes, women need their husbands more than anything during those devastating moments but sometimes you find that men just can not handle the pressure and the responsibility.
    Men just don’t have that soft touch that women are best known to have and just because they are unable to nurture their women when they’re sick does not mean they love them less or anything of that kind

  18. Nokukhanya May 4, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    While I do find some information so informative and relatively new to me in this article, I must say there are some cases that I agree to disagree with what the writer has to say. What the writer in my opinion failed to address was that perhaps some of these marriages may have had already serious underlining issues way before the long term illness took place. What we have to ask ourselves is,would a marriage that was already on the brink of divorce survived and withstood the test of time against a gruesome period,as that of a loved one suddenly at the mercy of a deadly illness? If for instance,the husband was already sick of his wife way before her illness,then it would’ve most likely been difficult for him to stand by her side during her time of need,caring for her and taking care of the day to day activities,that would normally have been done by her. And need I say taking care of a sick person is no child’s play it is a very demanding job. However having said this I love how the writer alludes to the fact of that gender roles,and social expectations about caregiving may make it more difficult for men to provide care to their ill spouses. I found this very interesting and also agree with it,since men from an early age are not raised to become caregivers,it is usually seen an accepted as a woman’s job in society to be caring and affectionate. I would also like to raise a question that why wasn’t the study also conducted with also younger married couples instead of the elderly,that way it would have made the information more applicable and relevant to everybody.

  19. Nomvula Mbambo 14169402 May 4, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    This article is very interesting because it talks about something that happens in reality, its just that most people are not aware of such things.. Indeed illness can separate a marriage of years

  20. koketso molepo(13373201) May 4, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    @mavis thanks for clarifying that to me, I now know that men do not live to their promises…..

  21. Dimolemo u14120722 May 4, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    This is an interesting article. I read a few of the comments that where posted, there are a few that are bias, I noticed that a few females content that women are more of vow keepers than men, this of cause is not entirely true because disloyalty is prevalent in both sexes, some women cannot stay in a marriages where the husband struggles to provide, they simply leave and look for better providers, I guess men and women have different basic expectations in a relationship, women want security while men want beauty and sexual appeal, if any of these lack in the other partner the marriage is placed in jeopardy. That is why some Men cheat on their women when they are pregnant, it is simply because their wives do not have the appeal they used to have. which also applies to when they are sick.

  22. 14048371 May 4, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I find it quite hard to believe that there is any truly significant proof for the ideas stated in this article. First of all, they only looked at around 2200 marriages, which is almost nothing if you look at it on a large scale. Secondly the cultural and ethical backgrounds of the couples have to be brought into the equation, as some country have a higher divorce rate than others. you also need to look at the quality of the specific marriages before one partner became ill. If they were already having problems beforehand, they could possibly already have been heading towards divorce. I believe that if you add in all these different dynamics and variables, you will probably find that there would always have been around a thirty percent chance of divorce, irrelevant of the gender of the person that became ill. Therefore I do not agree with the research done in this article. I do believe that it is possible that some couples may get divorced if one becomes ill, but I think it has more to do with the character of the people in the relationship, and less with who becomes ill

  23. u13285549 May 4, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Indeed illness in a marriage is major obstacle which has conquered many marriages, but going through this article made me realize that we men are the weak link, we always opt for an easy way out. However not every man is like that, some stand by their partners just like they committed themselves from day one.

    I believe illness is just one of the contributing factors to most marriages u find that a couple has been facing ups and downs long before it is known that one of them is suffering from a certain illness, so they might be in the process of breaking up, and the researchers might just conclude that the illness is the main cause of everything.

    in conclusion lets not generalize, we must take into account every possible contributing factors in order to increase the results’ validity and reliability.

  24. Tshiamo (u41413039) May 4, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Even at a younger age men still divorce their wives when their sick it can not miraculasly change at an older age.Woman naturally cares and is mostly dependent on their husband as most of the time he is s the breadwinner and the pillar of strength, woman think they are more dependent on men thab men ate on woman.According to my experience I think sickness brings the care out of a men it leaves him vulnerable and distressed and they do not like feeling that so their resort is divorce

  25. MANGI(14125316) May 4, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Interesting .i was being so ignorant .i thought this only happened in young people’s relationships. i look up to older couples .they are the ones that keep my dream of getting married one day because they understand commitment ,obedience and what is sacred to God than younger people. Generation “Z” understands the fun part of the relationship. they get married for various reasons like travelling, sex, looks, class, etc., while they don’t realize that hardships lie ahead .this is the reason they don’t stick around when the going gets tough.

  26. Faith(14231752) May 4, 2014 at 4:44 am #

    What has been stated in this blog is really saddening,heartbreaking and sorrowful,to think that a couple of about ten-plus years of marriage would seriously throw in a towel over an illness just like that.I mean this is the time where they should hold on tight to each other more than ever and show that love when they first met each other.And i strongly disagree with a saying,women are better caregivers than men,if your partner really really loves you he or she would not be so hesitant in taking good care of you regardless of anything.I also think these couples should really mean what they are saying to each other when they exchange their vows,they can’t just separate because one of them is experiencing a heartbreaking setback!This is really wrong.

  27. 14017386 May 4, 2014 at 3:29 am #

    This article was a huge eye opener for me because it is something I have never thought about. Being 18 years old, one does not think about illness in marriage, and the effects thereof. I only think about marriage as being happily ever after. This is really something for me to consider before one day making a huge life long commitment. When couples get married I think they do not seriously think about what their commitment means, because at that stage they are happy and healthy. It is very sad that sickness can cause couples to divorce. But I do not think we can judge anybody that cannot deal with this situation because one can only judge somebody if you have been in the same situation. Because women are natural caretakers, I think it is easier for a women to look after someone sick, and to take care of the daily household. For men this does not come natural, and they need a women to take care of the household. If the wife cannot take care of everyday household responsibilities because of sickness it can be a huge strain on the man although this cannot be an excuse for divorce. I seriously have much more respect for any man or women looking after a sick person because this requires a lot of patience and commitment.

  28. 13138139 May 4, 2014 at 2:48 am #

    ‘Reading this blog, I fail to understand how researchers can make such a big generalization on this topic. There are so many factors that could contribute to a couples divorce when one of them is ill. They did not take into account the history of the marriage and the time of illness (whether it has happened before or whether it is the first time). This post is also very vague about how long these couple have been together.
    For example a couple who have been together for 35 years seem less likely to divorce over an illness whereas perhaps a couple of 10 years may feel a bit more pressure and unsure about what to do in this situation, hence being more likely to get divorced. I also feel that the generalization about males being the ones to divorce their sick wives is too big of an assumptions, it needs to be further studied rather than basing this knowledge on few facts that males ‘seem’ to find it harder to nurture sick wives.

  29. u14193508 May 4, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    The findings in this blog are sadly true. The most powerful words to me in the marriage vows are the ones that say that the couple will be together in sickness and in health, and it is the best promise you can make to someone. To know that no matter what that your soul mate may suffer from or go through that that will not change anything between the two of you, is for me the definition of love that will never end. To see from the study that has been done that that promise gets broken by spouses is heartbreaking to me. How can one (especially men) leave or more specifically divorce the person that he/she loves the most? How can one make the most precious promise and when it comes to implementing it, suddenly break that promise? The study shows that it divorces usually takes place when the woman gets chronically ill, because the man can’t properly take care of her and then she tells him that he can go and shifts her care taking to family and friends. That to me is the most astonishing, because if the man really love her and he realizes that he can’t provide the necessary care for her, then he must get some family and friends to help him take care of her, not get a divorce (that put more stress onto the shoulders of his “loved one”) and run away. That to me is not love! So yes I understand the fact that to take care of someone who is really sick is hard work and tiring, but when it’s the person you love the most that is sick, then instead of making him/her sicker through divorcing him/her and running away, I think people should keep to the most reassuring promise that they will stay with their loved one trough sickness and in health as long as they both shall live!

  30. Aaron (12337235) May 4, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    marriage is a lifelong commitment and i believe that people tend to forget that when you get married you practically become one with your partner, this implies that whatever they go through , whether it is joy or pain affects you as well. There are many factors which prove that men and and women view the concept of love very differently and women are believed to be more caring so this could be a contributing factor to why there is a high number of women who get divorced when they fall ill than men. We also need to remember that the feelings one has before the marriage and years into the marriage can differ greatly. Could it be that the vow ‘in sickness and in health’ loses its value with time? that should not be the case or marriage would surely lose its meaning, it is therefore critical for both men and women to make sure that they are ready for that commitment and that they are with a partner they would never leave no matter what situations arise.

    Divorce is a harsh reality that negatively affects a lot of people and there are many reasons behind it but to divorce simply because one partner is sick really shows a lack of commitment.

  31. 14049806 (lesetja kgomo) May 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    As we know that a divorce is not accepted in Christianity, yet people continue to do it. The moment you married her/him you vowed to be there through thick and thin, what was the point of that? What could have happened if you the one who want a divorce because of an illness was the one who was sick? we must learn to be assured about any probability that may come along the way of a marriage life. A marriage is not just something to drop along the way because of mere looks and perishing health, it is something to be watered,cared for and to provide endless support to your partner. Let this not be something to teach our kids about marriage. Marriage is something special, knowing that someone cares for you might also decrease the chance of illness.

  32. Nomvula Mbambo 14169402 May 3, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    I think a man chooses to take a divorce when his wive is sick because he is now faced with responsibilities that might have never thought he might never face. He is used to the wife taking care of him for all these and now it is him who has to take care of his wife. Everything becomes hard for him and the only out is divorce otherwise he will have to live the rest of his live taking care of his wife because of this chronical disease. But I still say if he truly loves you he would want to spend the last days with you and nobody else.

  33. 13120094 May 3, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    The article is very good because it encourage people from the benefit of being fit.it tells us that if u are fit it is good for your healthy and your mind because the mind will be able to retain the information for a long time.it also explain the negative effects of being not fit and being out of shape as such person will be easily forget and not storing the information for a long time.it also tells us that the excess in oxygen within our brain also help the brain to retain the information for long time.as the conclusion the exercise is good in mind and also in the healthy of a person.

  34. N. Mbense, 14121672 May 3, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    This blog evokes many emotions to me and I’d like to commend Karraker for embarking on such an interesting topic.

    The results obtained from the study are appalling. It is unfortunate that most women will end up without husbands if we are to fall critically ill. This study proves that all men are the same! Yes, the responsibility to care for the family is the wife, however, the husband must assume the role of nurturing the family; should the mother cease to do so herself.

    I stand by what most people are saying in their comments that “In sickness and in health” is a vow to be kept no matter what and should go both ways.

  35. Yumna (14127602 May 3, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    I found this topic very interesting and it cannot be totally cast out as a blatant lie as there is a hint of truth to it. When you truly sit down and give it some thought what comes to mind would be the sad truth that, when it’s the wife and not the husband who falls ill, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce. This can be explained on the basis of social expectations about how men will always keep an eye on the horizon and therefore if the opportunity presents itself they have no difficulty just uprooting and starting a new life with someone else. Most men also do not always possess the compassion and patience to sit by and nurse their spouse through good times and bad. And its also been proven that divorced men especially in older marriages have more choices among prospective partners than divorced women

  36. Yumna (14127602 May 3, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    I found this topic very interesting and it cannot be totally cast out as a blatant lie as there is a hint of truth to it. When you truly sit down and give it some thought what comes to mind would be the sad truth that, when it’s the wife and not the husband who falls ill, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce. This can be explained on the basis of social expectations about how men will always keep an eye on the horizon and therefore if the opportunity presents itself they have no difficulty just uprooting and starting a new life with someone else. Most men also do not always possess the compassion and patience to sit by and nurse their spouse through good times and bad. And its also been proven that divorced men especially in older marriages have more choices among prospective partners than divorced women.”

  37. 14111561 May 3, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    I found this article very interesting and very shocking at the same time. To think that something(effects of a chronic disease) that needs a couple to come together and support each other many times leads to the marriage’s failure is disheartening. Maybe marriage vows aren’t taken as seriously as they should be? Maybe divorce is just a much easier way out than facing the problem head on? I can imagine that disease surely doesn’t make a marriage easier and that it does result in a lot of strain but a divorce is quite an extreme measure in this circumstance – can’t fathom what ill women go through dealing with both disease and divorce simultaneously.

  38. Mabodiba Maake ,14105782 May 3, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    I agree with this biog. Marriages do tend to end in a divorce when the women gets chronically ill. People say the vows “in sickness and in health” because they are forced to or because that is what is expected of them. Men are generally not as strong as women. That is why most women are always there for their husbands when they get sick and most man are not. Truth is also that when a man really loves a women, hey would stick by them. No matter how sick they are, or how hard it gets.

    I personally think people should get to say their own vows, not what the pastor tells them to repeat.

  39. Mavis( u14085713) May 3, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    w

  40. Mavis( u14085713) May 3, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    When women make a vow that they will stay with their husbands in sickness and in health, they promise for real. But when it comes to men, it becomes difficult to keep the promise and they even forget that they once made a vow. To men, a woman is a woman when she is able to take care of her husband, once she becomes ill, she is not useful anymore.Women naturally have care, they can be with their husbands during hardtimes and goodtimes. But men are just not used to taking care of someone,they don’t have that care naturally. That is why they divorce their wives once they are ill.

  41. koketso molepo(13373201) May 3, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Looking at the blog, i for one would agree that illness affect the risk of divorce. it happens more when women are the ones sick, because men do not have the character of care in them. what concerns me is that men seem to not know and understand the meaning of marriage as that is a bond to make two people become one; as a result, they make decisions from what they feel and not what will benefit both the wife and the husbands. in my opinion men have a lot of options as to hire a nurse to take care of the wife while they offer love because them leaving is what will at the end kill their wifes.

  42. Moila Makoma (14080959) May 3, 2014 at 5:03 am #

    ”in sickness and in health” this is a sign of commitment between two people.I understand that women are more nurture than men but marriage is about two people not only that women should always be the ones caring.Men should also play their role when women are unable to do so that is what marriage is about helping each other in terms of weakness not running away.

  43. Neo(14039754) May 3, 2014 at 4:22 am #

    It is true that illness cause divorce in most cases, especially when the woman is the one suffering from a certain disease. It is believed that women have to take care of their families and when they can no longer do it as a result of being weak from the disease, they are seen to be useless. Most men do not keep in mind that marriage is about helping each other, for better, for worse. It is a very difficult situation to experience, when one suffers from one of the serious physical illness, i mean it will be very difficult to look at your partner suffering from stroke but it is one’s responsibility to take care of his or her partner, for a woman to initiate divorce, she is driven by her husband not showing care and love recently. It has happened in my family twice.

  44. Nyeleti (u14190894) May 3, 2014 at 4:00 am #

    I personally agree with the article as it has sufficient information and evidence. It is true that women would rather rely on their friends or family if their husbands are not giving the care and support they need.

  45. nempheni s 14038308 May 3, 2014 at 2:29 am #

    yes i agree that women are the one who suffers more since they are emotional weak but its not right when man take advantage of their women

  46. Sarisha (u14106613) May 3, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    I agree that couples are divorcing when the wife gets ill because they are considered of no use to the husband anymore. However I disagree that couples should divorce their wife because of an illness. When someone is ill or goes through a hurdle in their life, they should have their loved ones there to support them and help them through it, not abandon them and make their situation worse. When a couple gets married they take a vow and promise to stay together in sickness and in health and they should stay loyal to their partner, especially among older couples that have spent their entire lives with their partner. I understand that the gender role is different and the responsibilities differ because the wife is usually the care taker, but it is wrong to make a wife feel as if though she is a burden to the husband when she is ill because she does not do that to him. Society and customs and beliefs also influenced this risk of divorce among older married couples when the wife becomes ill because in today’s society if the wife is on a dying bed, the husband is already looking for someone to replace her.

  47. Ayola Malotana u14135851 May 3, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    Sometimes when the wife is ill with a chronic disease like cancer, the least she wants to do is hurt her husband. She feels that she is selfish by letting him stay at home and look after her. Hence the wife thinks divorce is the best way to protect him from being hurt. She doesn’t want him to watch her suffer and his life on hold whereas maybe she won’t make it. Especially with a chronic disease like cancer because some people usually don’t survive. She loves her husband so much that she doesn’t want to be a burden to him. She wants him to be happy and move on with his life. At a time like this the couple needs support in order to get through this. That is why it is important for them to seek counseling.

  48. u14122202 May 3, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    This is an interesting topic to read about. It is true that sickness plays a role in inhibiting the usual routines which couples have, more especially with the elderly.
    The elderly couples are perhaps not as flexible as they were a few years ago when they were newly-weds, thus this means that certain activities which they used to do, are at a limit, therefore having sickness in the relationship further inhibits these activities and may cause the couple not to enjoy their relationship as before. Divorce may be caused by factors like, the husband is not properly equipped with the relevant knowledge of how to deal with the wife’s illness, this also puts him on a vulnerable position of panic and fear and the only way out seems to be a divorce.
    I think it is very important that the elderly couples are trained or given some kind of marital counselling prior to the “sickness” and also during the “sickness”.

  49. Nelisiwe u13193296 May 3, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    women are sensitive creatures and they care and nurture their spouses when ill,with the hope of helping them get well again,if the situation is reversed,the opposite is expected from men because they cant get out of the marriage fast enough when dealing with ill partners,i think when men vow “in sickness and in health” they do so with the hope that there wont be any illness.

  50. Vasili Moutzouris u14068992 May 2, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    Divorce rates are on the rise and one of the reasons couples get divorced is because of illness. I personally cannot understand how married couples can get divorced due to their ‘loved one’ falling ill. I believe that it is when you are ill that you are most in need of your loved ones support. When you are married, you take a vow, to stick with that person through sickness and in health, but this is not the case anymore. As soon as a partner falls ill with a life threatening disease, the other party requests a divorce and their marriage is over. Women are more nurturing than men and this is why women sometimes feel that men are not caring enough for them and they request a divorce as the men do not seem interested in them anymore.

  51. 14051992(OS Moche) May 2, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    I am sure that when one utters the words “in sickness and health” they say it hoping their future spouse will mean it just as much when they say it. I am female myself and do not hope to find myself being part of the 31%. Males are not nearly as nurturing and emotional as women are,they can be but it is not their nature. This leads me to ask whether males are able to fully comprehend the difference between saying you love someone and actually loving them. The role of nursing comes naturally to women because they are tuned to doing it with their young and they then use these skills secondarily when their husbands fall ill. So should we fully blame males for their behaviour? Also,I agree with you that social pressures are placed more heavily on women than men.

  52. Nomvula Mbambo 14169402 May 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    From my personal point of view you can never know or estimate how marriage will be like unless you’ve been there. So most people turn to underestimate marriage or think it always going to be a walk in the park. However if that person says he truelly loves you he should be able to take care of you even in good or in bad situtions

  53. 14170184 Boipelo May 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Married couples take vows.These vows include ‘In sickness and in health”.This binds the two people in the relationship to love,nurture and care for each other equally regardless of their state of health.
    Thus both individuals in the marriage should cohere to this vow irrespective of their gender.Because women are said to have been born to nurture and men were for some reason not, does not justify the fact that in marriage both individuals should somehow be submissive at one point.

  54. Julienza de Villiers May 2, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    I agree that women are natural supports, as well as caring and nurturing. It is more likely for them to help their husbands, when they are terminally ill and thus there would less divorces if that is the case. However women like to be cared for and supported too. If their husbands is not going to give them the love and support they need, I can understand their logic in seeking the comfort of friends and family rather than feeling unloved. To me, marriage is a life-long commitment and you promise to stay with that person for the rest of your life, in sickness and in health. If they really loved each other, would they not want to spend their last moments together, in love and unison. I understand that it can be unbearable to see the person you love in a lot of pain and suffering so much so that it later becomes unbearable, but that is no excuse to divorce. Nothing should come between a love that is suppose to be true and eternal. Not even a terminal illness.

  55. 13285964 May 2, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    A lot of couples in our generation turn to divorce when things start to go wrong, we seem to look for the easy way out which is just to leave and cut our loses. I agree with the opinions of the author when she says that women are most likely the ones who initiates the divorce procedure. I feel that women sometimes forget that which ever illness is affecting her, it is affecting her husband too, maybe even more because he is facing the chance of living his life without his spouse, and any man who really loves his wife won’t be able to cope with such trauma and stress, but leaving will not be an option.

  56. nokulunga Nyathi(14124026) May 2, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    well, above we’ve been told that the couple gets to an agreement that they wont be separate in sickness and in health but when time goes on they find themselves being separated by certain diseases and its most likely to be women being divorced than men. according to my own frame of reference this happens because men are likely to overpower women, it becomes easy for them to take decisions over them, in addition from the tittle we get that its because of its not easy for men to take care of women, yes i hardly agree with the article.

  57. u14044392 May 2, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Women aspire to culture, and men aspire to scratch themselves. Women bear the burdens in life and men create those burdens. Women uplift humanity, and men uplift lap dances. If society was left to the whims of men we’d still be in caves carving pictures with our thumbs. My point is: women were created to nurture and care, it’s in their nature, they just can’t help it. Men on the other hand do not have that nurturing sentiment, however it is NOT an excuse to neglect the vows you made in front of God. “In sickness and in health” is not said to entertain the priest and add more ambiance to the wedding but a vow is to solemnly promise to do a specified thing. Which brings us to another point of men not keeping promises. I can go on about men’s short comings. Fact is we make excuses based on gender, genes and race, which is absolutely nonsense.

  58. 14051992 May 2, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I am a female who does wish to get married one day and i certainly do not envy to find myself in such a situation. When one utters the words “in sickness and in health” they say so hoping that their future spouse means it too when they say it. I think that the reason why women stand by their husbands in times of ill-health stems from their nature. Females are natural nurturers and they are highly emotional which helps them form deeper connections with their spouses and what they will stick through with their spouses is more heartfelt than with males.

  59. Arnold May 2, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Wow that is really interesting

  60. Nosipho Ngubane 14296960 May 2, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Divorce has become a common issue in the past few years but to think that someone would divorce their spouse because he/she is sick is beyond me. What happened to “in sickness and in health”? This is a very superficial and shallow reason to leave someone but at the same time a person should not be forced to stay in a marriage that they are no longer committed to because this will just lead to stress, heartache and resentment; also the sick party’s condition may worsen. i do not believe for a second that men are not able to take care of their wives (as previously stated in the comments); if people really want to make their marriage work and to look after their spouses then there is nothing in the world stopping them except themselves. men should not have excuses such as “it’s not in their nature” made up for them (as stated in a previous comment) because humans, regardless of their gender, are social creatures hence revel in social interactions so caring for their spouse should be inevitable. However, if someone is not prepared to honour their wedding vows then perhaps they should not have married in the first place.

  61. Tiisetso(13082672) May 2, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    I personally agree with the above statistics provided by the blog.Women are more likely to be divorced by their husbands when they become ill.Certain social expectations about women is a contributing factor to the statistics.When the husband becomes ill,the wife is expected to provide holiostics care to the husband.The wife is not expected to divorce the husband.However when the husband is the partner filing for divorce the society sees nothing unusual with that,the society infact sees this as a norm.

    I think people should thoroughly think about the decision to get married,and not decide to get married just to meet social standards.They should thoroughly think about the decision and not just the glamour of the wedding day.People shouldn’t rush into marriage,they should think about the implications concerning marriage.

  62. u14257662 May 2, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    Woman have unique responsibilities in maintenance and well fare of the husband and family. I agree that power struggle due to vulnerability and insecurities lead to divorce, which might also be driven by fear of exposure in inability to carry tasks that a woman used to. A woman feeling emotionally unstable and too depending may feel uncared for when a man can carry those tasks,thefore feel that it is a better to be left alone.

  63. 14009863 May 2, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    These days marriage doesn’t seem to mean as much as it used to. Many people rush into marriage without thinking about the reality and practicality behind it. A few years down the line, for some even months, divorce is the ultimate decision. There are many conventional reasons for divorce, such as unfaithfulness, in want of a different future and the most common one, falling out of love. To have some sort of illness cause a divorce is definitely a new one to my ears but in some respect makes absolute sense. This study suggests that it is when the woman is ill that the couple get a divorce. Women are generally more caring and loving than men which would make them far better equipped to look after an ill husband, for example, than for the reverse to occur. These results make perfect logical sense as the man would not necessarily be the best carer for the ill woman. These results, on the other hand, are very sad and disheartening as you would think that ‘in sickness and in health’ would mean looking after each other for both the man and the woman. Maybe more research can be done to find out why divorce is more likely to occur when the woman is sick and not the man. Is it because men aren’t as caring as women or maybe the women feel better off with friends and family caring for them rather than their husbands? This poses a very interesting debate!

  64. Joseline Iga Nkhoma (14044138) May 2, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    The society we live in today makes it hard for me to be surprised by this information. Even though we live in the 21st century most of the expectations people have of what a marriage is live is still based on the olden days.
    In the olden days men were the providers and women the caregivers. Women cooked, cleaned and looked after the house and everyone in it. The amount of pressure they put on themselves to be all things to all people means they spread themselves so thin that they have absolutely no time to care for themselves. Although in the current era both men and women are the providers most of the care giving still falls on the women. The four serious illnesses all have the potential to lead to death which also implies that an extensive amount of care giving would be required. If a wife’s husband falls sick she would just be continuing in her God given ability to be a caregiver so this would be anything new. However is the roles reversed it would be unknown territory for most, not all, men and sadly when men can’t handle the heat the know how to get out of the kitchen. Divorced men have an easier time finding a new spouse because society has made it acceptable for older men to date younger women, where as an older women with a younger man is frowned upon.
    The real problem is the society we live in. men still have more advantages then women. Once these double standards have been removed then and only then will we start to see changes in the divorce rate due to sickness.

  65. Mohamed Gani (14103304) May 2, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    Upon reading this article I was rather startled that older married couples would consider divorce as an option in times of sickness. It is no secret that marriages of today are very fickle, with people choosing to get married for various reasons expect the most important: to honour the sacred bond of marriage. However, one would expect couples who have been together for a reasonable amount of time to stand together and support each other.

    Women are, due to their maternal-touch, more empathic and are better care-givers and are thus able to give better care to their husbands during times of not only sickness, but hardship as well. Men are not, by natural instinct able to express the sense of empathy that a woman does, but they are able to provide a sense of support. Just like any other factor in marriage is about compromise, similarly this is as well. Both husband and wife must learn to accept each other’s sense of support in such situations. Most importantly, women need to grasp the idea that a man cannot always provide her with the comfort she expects, but that does not necessarily mean she should consider a divorce so that her family and friends can take over her husband’s responsibility. They could all work together and take care of the person.

    Divorce in general, but most importantly at this age, should be avoided as the emotional stress that comes along with it is detrimental to both husband and wife, and could lead to other complications such as severe depression.

  66. Mohamed Gani (14103304) May 2, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    Upon reading this article I was rather startled that older married couples would consider divorce as an option in times of sickness. It is no secret that marriages of today are very fickle, with people chosing to get married for various reasons expect the most important: to honour the sacred bond of marriage. However, one would expect couples who have been togther for a reasonable amount of time to stand together and support each other.

    Women are, due to their maternal-touch, more empahtic and are better care-givers and are thus able to give better care to their husbands during times of not only sickness, but hardship aswell. Men are not, by natural instinct able to express the sense of empathy that a woman does, but they are able to provide a sense of support. Just like any other factor in marriage is about compromise, similarly thisis aswell. Both husband and wife must learn to accpet each other’s sense of support in such situations. Most importantly, women need to grasp the idea that a man connot always provide her what the comfort she expects, but that does not necessarily mean she should consider a divorce so that her family and friends can take over her husband’s responsibilty. They could all work together and take care of the person.

    Divorce in general, but most importantly at this age, should be avoided as the emotional stress that comes along with it is deterimental to both husband and wife, and could lead to other complicatiopns such as severe depression.

  67. 13314328 Ntombizodwa May 1, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Dealing with the unexpected, marriage it’s a long life time goal. Based on the vows made on the wedding day marriage it’s a life time and on-going goal. Both partners making all the efforts to make that work but as life it’s full of unexpected. Men and women find themselves in a situation where they have to break those vows, I believe that it’s very difficult for them to reach that point. It’s in women nature to be caretaker but when they failing to do that it become a challenge to them. Men try to adopt that but it’s just that they can’t, it’s something we have within us to be caretakers. Failing to do what we are called to do becomes a challenge that we even start to be insecure and feel intimidated. We all deal with unexpected in different ways but in most cases women always think that they always know what best for their husbands. Based on the studies made women are at risk to have divorce when they are seriously ill and it’s not that it’s a bad thing maybe it can be a good thing in a different way. Dealing with the illness knowing that you not able to give full care to your husband can be very stressful, if I fail to do this maybe he will go find some who can do it for him.

  68. 14028663 May 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    One thing that people should be aware of this days is taking this big step of marriage, I’ve seen many marriages breaking because of many tings such as no being faithful but surprisingly, science has proven something new which is so true. Many couples make unlimited number of vows but they do not keep them. The words “In sickness and in health” are very powerful words which demands great effort and it takes one to actually realise that. It is nice swearing those words in front of everyone but what matters is that at the end of the day you are expected to do what you have swore. It is indeed to first introspect ourselves before make any commitments.

  69. Aaron (12337235) May 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    marriage is a lifelong commitment and i believe that people tend to forget that when you get married you practically become one with your partner, this implies that whatever they go through , whether it is joy or pain affects you as well. There are many factors which prove that men and and women view the concept of love very differently and women are believed to be more caring so this could be a contributing factor to why there is a high number of women who get divorced when they fall ill than men. We also need to remember that the feelings one has before the marriage and years into the marriage can differ greatly. Could it be that the vow ‘in sickness and in health’ loses its value with time? that should not be the case or marriage would surely lose its meaning, it is therefore critical for both men and women to make sure that they are ready for that commitment and that they are with a partner they would never leave no matter what situations arise.

    Divorce is a harsh reality that negatively affects a lot of people and there are many reasons behind it but to divorce simply because one partner is sick really shows a lack of commitment.

  70. Meshack kekana (14034388) May 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    The bond between a couple that has been married for more than 10 years is so strong that in most cases if one of them passes away, the other one becomes so emotionally affected that they tend to withdraw from the public, they tend to lose hope in life because they do not not how to live life as a single individual. This shows that we humans are emotionally fragile.

  71. sam May 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    it is true

  72. u14077486 May 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    There are a few aspects that may tend to woman being the initiators towards the divorce, but at the end I do believe that the men should still stand their ground saying that “He” won’t leave “her”. This is hard to examine as the difference between cultural backgrounds and values. Yet the question is posed as to why does a man leave a woman when she is sick and not the other way around? I do also believe that this will differ from country to country and age to age, as cultural backgrounds and values change.

  73. Takudzwa Tsapayi u13194098 May 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    For most people it is evident that health and physical appearance play a major role in marriage. It is a sad truth because people are not really falling in love with someone for who they are but what they look like. Women in particular tend to actually fall in love for all the right reasons whereas men tend to fall in love with a woman’s physique.

    After reading this blog I feel like people, especially males, are never really appeased with what they have. Nothing can actually fill up what’s missing in each persons life. Some people, however, seem to actually be satisfied with what they have but the majority aren’t. Some things in this world such as marriage come close to an individual reaching self actualisation stage but as we see in the blog, when ones partner falls sick, people tend to leave and find another that is more appealing and healthy.

  74. jack May 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    wow

  75. Dharushka (14013445) May 1, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    I will have to agree with Amelia Karraker, a woman’s role in a marriage is so vital that it is impossible for another member of the family to just step in and assume the role. A woman is the caregiver, compromiser, strength. diplomat, representative, negotiator and basically the life of the marriage. When this role is removed, the remaining spouse finds himself not able to cope as he is outside his comfort zone and divorce is then the easiest option. Men in general cannot negate stressful situations. In a world that still believes In ” until death do us part ” , one can sincerely hope that the research statistics were based on exceptions rather than the norm

  76. u14058155 May 1, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    The fact that illness places a heavy weight on marriages is inevitable, but to read that the risk of divorcing increases when the wife falls ill and not the husband, was quite surprising at first.

    The more I thought about it though the clearer it became. I agree with the author when he say that in illness, woman would rather have their friends and family take care of them, when their husbands are not doing a very good job at it. Just to stand up for the men; maybe the fact that they find it difficult to care for their ill spouses is not necessarily their fault.

    Women are, because of maternal instincts, naturally better caregivers than men are , and this can result in men finding it difficult to provide support to their wives .One can also argue that because men are usually the breadwinners of a family, they do not have the time ( by time I mean money) to take care of the wife and sit by her side in hospital, as illness can already place a financial burden on them. Lastly I will add that men may hold back their emotions because of the stereotypical view that men don’t cry. I saw this happen with my grandmother and grandfather, they had a good and happy marriage, but when my grandmother got cancer, my grandfather didn’t want to visit her in hospital. We never understood why, but I know he cared about her and he was devastated when she passed, I guess he was in shock, or that he didn’t know how to be there for her. This is sad though because in the end he regretted it.

    I feel that spouses should do everything in their power to support each other in times of illness, because it is then when they need one another the most, and that those times should be special because it may be the last moments they have together.

  77. u14106753 May 1, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    .

  78. u14106753 May 1, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    I for one completely agree with the above statistics and studies carried out. women are and will always be, the ultimate subservient caregivers, supplying all the love and nourishment the marriage needs. Men on the other hand are somewhat the complete opposite and more self-indulgent. The conventional man perceives that it is the woman’s duty to care for him, but sadly cannot return the favour. of course no spouse would want to be saddled with the duties of providing daily nurse care to their loved one. After all if they are married it must have been out of love and love, comes at no price- divorce should not be an option. Surely there are some roses among all those thorns…

  79. Sello Audrey (14326044) May 1, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    It is true that women in marriages that encounter serious illnesses r subjected to being divorced because malez are not emotionally strong enough to bear the pain of seeing their loved ones suffer tremendous pain while in the other hand women are more emotionally strong enough to bear the pain of seeing their loved ones in pain and can provide care and sustain the love for them which is why women having serious illnesses are subjected to being divorced.

  80. E. Manhanga(u14182964) May 1, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    I partly agree with the views mentioned in the above article. Usually when couples fall in love, it is their physical characteristics that appeal at the time. As they spend more time together, it becomes more about what is in the inside or rather about the personal attributes that stand out. During that phase of physical health well-being, couples get married.” Till death do us part, in sickness and in health.”Lets say five to ten years down the line, the wife becomes ill, the standard marital structure of the husband as the provider and the wife as the nourisher and care-giver shifts. There is an imbalance within the home and social expectations may not be met. Frustration often becomes the bread and butter of the relationship and this affects the risk of divorce. On the other hand however, illness can bring couples together. Support and unity often result in stronger bonds.It is instinct for a woman to care in the relationship and well typical for the other partner to be selfish.

  81. Tebatso Mametja(14246962) May 1, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    I was going through the science blog page and I came across this page, a year ago I watched Anne Hathaway’s movie where she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and an extra in the movie who’s wife was also at stage 3 of the disease mentioned to Hathaway’s boyfriend that he should live her both she reaches stage three going to prove that women clearly probably do initiate the divorce due to their spouse not being able to look after them but is it male instinct to withdraw from looking after their wives or they emotionally not strong to see their loved one’s going through a phase in their lives where them as husbands can’t help them with it?

    i know you mentioned finance but at tough times if a couple cannot manage together wouldn’t they ask for help somewhere else other then divorcing?

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