Married couples are statistically more likely to divorce if the wife falls ill, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the University of Michigan analysed 20 years’ worth of data on 2,717 older married couples, in which at least one partner was over the age of 50.
In total, 31 per cent of the couples divorced over the 20 years. Over the same period, more husbands than wives developed chronic illness, but the couple were more likely to divorce if the wife developed an illness.
Lead researcher Amelia Karraker suggested the women may be better than men at coping with ill health.
“Gender norms and social expectations about care giving may make it more difficult for men to provide care to ill spouses.”
“And because of the imbalance in marriage markets, especially in older ages, divorced men have more choices among prospective partners than divorced women.”
Women appear to be doubly vulnerable, Dr Karraker claimed. “They are more likely to be widowed, and if they are the ones who become ill, they are more likely to get divorced.”
Nevertheless, the majority of divorces are initiated by women, she noted.
“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.”
Photo by Isabel Cortes via Flickr