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Divorce risk increases when wives get cancer, other illnesses

When wives in Illinois suffer serious illnesses such as cancer or heart disease, divorce may be more likely. However, same is not true when husbands develop these conditions.

A study that appeared in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2015 found that a husband's illness was not a predictor of divorce in the same way that a wife's illness was. Other research supports these findings as well. For example, according to several studies, a woman's cancer diagnosis increases the likelihood that she will get a divorce. One study found that the risk is even higher for women who have a stroke or develop heart disease. On the other hand, there is no increase for married men. Overall, the health benefits that men enjoy from marriage generally do not extend to women.

Experts theorize that one reason for this is that women tend to be caregivers more than men. When women become too ill to provide this care, men are more prone to leaving. Furthermore, men do not tend to form the same social ties as women. Wives often have more friends and other family members that they can rely on. However, these studies usually look at older couples who may adhere more to traditional gender roles. There might be a shift among younger generations.

Gender roles might also play a part when couples get divorced. For example, men are still more likely to be higher earners and pay spousal support. On the other hand, women are more inclined to get custody of their children. However, times are changing, and every divorce is unique. A family law attorney can look into the specifics of a situation and help a client through the divorce process.

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