Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Couples more likely to divorce if the wife falls ill, study claims

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.”

She continued:

“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

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.


  1. Cancer and divorce: more common than you might think - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] We have covered this in the blog before, but statistics indicate that the chances of divorce increase when the wife falls seriously ill. […]

Leave a comment

Help & advice categories


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for advice on divorce and relationships from our lawyers, divorce coaches and relationship experts.

What type of information are you looking for?

Privacy Policy