Men Are More Likely to Leave Their Wives If They Get Seriously Sick, According To Study

This article may contain affiliate links, learn more.

When a couple gets married, they make a commitment to love each other through sickness or in health”, “for better or for worse”, and “till death do us part.” It’s assumed that at the time of the ceremony, they mean this promise. But it’s not till they’re actually experiencing sickness and the worse that the words are really tested.

Unfortunately, men are predicted to be unlikely to stay with their wives in serious sickness. This is according to a study published in 2015 that found that men are six times more likely to leave their wives after a terminal diagnosis than women are. Here’s why.

For more great relationship advice and tips on how to attain the kind of love you deserve, watch this video from expert, Amy North: Click Here To Watch The Full Video.

It Can Happen To Anyone

No one expects tragedy to strike and for them or their partner to receive the heartbreaking news that they seriously hill. But, it unfortunately happens. Take the Covid-19 pandemic for example. No one saw it coming, and yet it affected all of our lives.

woman-sitting-on-floor blowing her nose wrapped up in red blanket
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

It’s during those tough times that we need support the most, to navigate the situation emotionally and physically. Spouses commit to love and support each other during these times. Yet a study released by the American Sociological Association in 2015 points out that men and women do not equally give this support.

Serious Illness Increases Divorce Rates

The study found that not all spouses want to stick around through the journey when sickness strikes. They found that husbands, in particular, are six times more likely to leave their wives in times of serious illness than women are to leave their husbands.

woman-in-white-dress-shirt-and-black-skirt-sitting-on-gray-couch sits across man fidgeting with their rings
Cottonbro studio / Pexels
Cottonbro studio / Pexels

The research was based on observations of 2,107 marriages. The researchers examined the role of serious physical illness onset in the breakdown of marriages. They narrowed down their findings to the conclusion that only wives diagnosed with severe or terminal illnesses are associated with an increased risk for divorce.

This indicates that women are more likely than men to fight through serious and terminal illnesses alongside their husbands.

Why Men Leave Their Sick Wives

So why is this happening? According to sociologist Mieke Thomeer, it has to do with how men understand “care” differently than women.Men are often problem solvers, so they see sickness as another problem they need to solve. With good intention, they start accomplishing practical tasks like taking on extra housework or paying medical bills.

sick woman wearing head wrap comforted by man
Pixelshot / Canva Pro
Pixelshot / Canva Pro

However, men have a harder time seeing the need for emotional support. Their wives still feel like they have to pick up the pieces independently.

There is also a tendency for men to downplay a woman’s symptoms and expect that she is still more or less independent. The difference between men and women is that women will intuitively jump in to care for their husbands, while men wait for their wives to specially ask: Particularly with more mild conditions, the expectation is that the status quo will go on unless it gets so extreme that the wife really can’t do that work,” Thomeer explained.

This Isn’t The First Time

Sadly this is not the first study that has reached the same conclusion. A 2009 study with the Huntsman Cancer Institute also found that when a wife receives a cancer diagnosis, the couple is six times more likely to get a divorce than if the husband does.

Sick woman at hospital hooked up to uvs
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images Pro Via Canva Pro
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images Pro Via Canva Pro

Naturally, such a serious diagnosis and treatment can put a strain on a relationship, but it seems like women experience a bigger impact than men. The study also found that the older the woman was, the more likely her partner would leave her after diagnosis. This was a trend that even doctors had noticed in their clinics. It seemed like divorce rates were exclusively associated with the wife’s diagnosis.

Blame Gender Conditioning

We can’t imagine how difficult and draining it would be to deal with serious illness. Yet, do women deserve to be left simply because they got sick? Researchers don’t think this is happening because men are bad people but rather because of the flaws in traditional gender roles.

boy-and-girl-cutout-decals-
Magda Ehlers / Pexels
Magda Ehlers / Pexels

Even in modern times, men aren’t expected to do most of the housework, care for the children, or be the main emotional support for the family. Yet women still are. Men still associate care with the job of a mother, wife, and woman. So when she gets sick and can’t fulfill all of these expectations anymore, they don’t know how to handle it.

This is even seen in women’s resiliency as widows. Studies have shown that widowed men typically have a lower quality of life than widowed women because they don’t know how to reintroduce that “care” without their wives.

Are Women Better Or Just Used To It?

We often hear that when it comes to nurturing, caring, and talking about feelings that oh, women are just better at this stuff.” This is a condition that we’ve imposed on ourselves. It’s not that women are better at it. They’re just used to doing it from a young age.

three-women-wearing-turbands
Dazzle Jam / Pexels
Dazzle Jam / Pexels

Perhaps if we taught young boys that same emotional vulnerability and care, they would be able to provide it too. This could prevent hundreds of future relationships from failing over serious illnesses.

Let’s Do Better

Both men and women deserve to be cared for just like neither one deserves to get seriously sick. We can start by accepting that we are still treating men and women differently from a young age.

couple-hugging under sky light
Kerem Kaplan / Pexels
Kerem Kaplan / Pexels

Some steps we can take are also to educate partners on how to care for their sick significant others so that it’s not a daunting and overwhelming task, but rather a sign of love. Let’s bring back the foundations of marriage, in sickness and in health.

Where Do You Fit?

We don’t blame you for being frustrated with dating and wanting to stick with what’s comfortable but if you’re struggling to find and keep a quality relationship click here to find out how to break the cycle.

man-and-woman-sleeping-together-on-a-bed spooning
Kampus Production / Pexels
Kampus Production / Pexels

Understand your purpose and your potential so that you can take control of your emotions, your life, and your future by clicking HERE.

For more great relationship advice and tips on how to attain the kind of love you deserve, watch this video from expert, Amy North: Click Here To Watch The Full Video.

Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]