When women in California fall ill, they may be much more likely than their male counterparts to divorce after their sickness. A number of studies show that despite the oft-quoted marital vow to remain together “in sickness and in health,” severe illness can have a serious effect on marital longevity. Equally concerning, however, is the fact that this increased risk of divorce only applies when the female partner in an opposite-sex relationship becomes ill.

While a number of studies have explored this topic, most of them have primarily concerned older couples. Much less research has been done on younger couples who have married more recently, and the results may be skewed as a result of the predominance of more traditional ideas about gender roles in a relationship. According to multiple clinical research studies, women with cancer see an elevated likelihood of divorce after their diagnosis. On the other hand, the illness of a husband seemingly has little effect on the likelihood of a separation. While women with cancer are more likely to divorce, they are still less likely to do so than wives who have strokes or develop heart disease, according to further research.

There are a number of issues that researchers point to in an attempt to understand the problem. Men often rely primarily on their wives for support in case of illness, which might even bring a couple closer together. However, men may be dependent on their wives’ support and feel their wives are somehow failing them when they instead require care themselves.

When a woman is struggling to get through a serious, life-changing illness, the end of her marriage may be a further blow. A family law attorney may help divorcing spouses protect their rights on a range of legal matters, including property division and spousal support.