When wives get sick, divorce odds go up -- but not husbands

Couples usually say that they'll stay together in sickness and in health when they get married. Not all use this line, but it's one of the most common vows. That said, we know from divorce statistics that it's not necessarily accurate. Serious illnesses actually increase the odds of a divorce.

There is one thing that's interesting, though. Studies indicate that, when a man's wife gets sick, the couple is more likely to split. If it is the woman's husband who gets sick, the divorce odds do not change. That doesn't mean there are no couples in this situation that will get divorced, but there is not an increase in the chances that they will.

Why does this happen? It is impossible to know for sure, as every situation is unique, but some researchers have suggested that the help and support that women offer is one of the major benefits men get out of a marriage. If that woman then gets sick -- is she has cancer, for instance -- she may not be able to provide the same level of care and support that she did before. The husband loses that benefit and may end the marriage.

On the other hand, women may not get as much care and support from their husbands, the line of thinking goes, so they do not see that same reduction if their husbands get sick. Instead, they tend to care for them, so the marriage is more likely to last.

Again, this is just the opinion of one group of researchers, but it is interesting to consider. Couples who split up need to know what legal steps to take next.

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