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A new study has found that older couples are at high risk of divorce if the wife ever falls seriously ill.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Insitite for Social Research took a look at 20 years of data to see how a series of four serious health problems effected 2,717 marriages, according to Tech Times. The health problems that were involved in the study were stroke, lung disease, heart problems and cancer.
In each of the couples, at least one spouse was over 50 years old. They found that 31 percent of the marriages ended in divorce at the end of the period that was studied. Forty-seven percent of the marriages involved a sick husband, but only 24 percent of these ended in widowhood, while the rest remained married.
What this told researchers is that gender played a large role in whether the couple divorced or not.
Many of the couples only divorced if it was the woman who got sick, not the other way around.
"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," Amelia Karraker, a member of the research team, said.
Researchers assume gender norms and social expectations make it more difficult for men to care for their wives when they become sick, according to Science World Report.
Due to the findings, researchers are urging policymakers to be aware of the association between disease and divorce. To avoid divorce at an older age when disease is involved, support services need to be provided for the spousal caregivers.