It’s fairly common for couples in Illinois to exchange vows that include the phrase “in sickness and in health.” Unfortunately, serious illness sometimes causes one spouse to choose to end a marriage. According to research on this topic, the husband is more likely to divorce a wife rather than the other way around when there’s a serious illness involved. One study found that it was only a wife’s illness onset that increased the risk of a split. Other clinical studies have shown an increased risk of divorce among women diagnosed with cancer.

Yet another study found that husbands are more likely to seek out a divorce if a wife has stroke and heart problems. Analysts say that this is because women tend to provide more care and support during the course of a marriage. When illness or disease is part of the equation, these “benefits” for the husband no longer exist.

Another possible reason for this pattern is that women tend to have an support system that includes friends and extended family members. However, husbands are more likely to rely entirely on their wives for support. Also, same-sex couples tend to have less conflict when illness is involved than different-sex couples. It should be noted that research on this subject is largely based on older couples more likely to default to traditional gender roles. Furthermore, there are also instances when illness brings a married couple closer together and strengthens their union.

If a couple is having marital stress because of one spouse’s illness, a family law attorney may suggest counseling before discussing divorce. Should such efforts fail to be effective, a lawyer may attempt to ease the stress of a split by trying to work out a fair settlement without turning to the court for intervention. An attorney can also offer suggestions on how to divide accumulated joint assets.