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Older Rhode Island couples may divorce if wife falls ill

As Rhode Island residents can attest, there are many events and conflicts that can put stress on a marriage. A job loss, a death in the family or a serious illness can all spell out tough times for married couples. Sometimes, these events cause a couple to come closer together, but other times, they cause couples to drift further apart. In some situations, the rift becomes so large that it is simply in the best interests of all to divorce. In fact, one study of married couples age 50 or older found that they were more likely to get a divorce, if the wife became seriously ill.

The study appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. It looked at over 2,700 married couples that were ages 50-years-old or older. The study looked at instances of heart issues, cancer, strokes and lung disease in women. It found that these conditions in women were associated with a 6 percent higher likelihood of divorce, while a man's serious illness did not affect the rate of divorce among these older couples.

One should not read too much into this recent study, however. First of all, while the study revealed the correlation between a wife's illness and divorce, it did not indicate the causation between the two. Nonetheless, caregiving of a seriously ill spouse can take a toll on a marriage, as can the depression and pain that follows a major illness.

In addition, other studies have shown that younger couples that are approximately 30-years-old were more likely to divorce than older couples. In fact, of these younger couples, a 2010 study revealed that divorce was more likely if the husband fell ill.

Also, the study did not indicate which spouse initiated the divorce proceedings in these situations. Other studies have indicated that women who become sick are less satisfied with the care they receive at their husband's hands. In two-thirds of divorces among younger couples, it was the wife who initiated the proceedings.

As this shows, there are many complexities when it comes to divorce issues among couples in Rhode Island and across the nation. Many factors lead to a couple's decision to end a marriage. In the end, for some couples, going their separate ways is in their best interest even in the face of illness or another major life event.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Couples Over 50 Are More Likely To Divorce When The Wife Gets Sick, Study Suggests," Rebecca Adams, March 5, 2015

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