Illness can cause significant stress in a marriage, and research increasingly indicates that it may make divorce more likely but only if the wife gets sick. Several different clinical studies have found that women are at a higher risk of divorce after they are diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses, but the same circumstances do not necessarily increase divorce risk for men. People in Minnesota should be aware of the potential ramifications of a diagnosis as they apply to the health of a marriage.

One study on the subject, conducted jointly by two American universities, examined 2,701 marriages to see how heart problems, strokes, lung disease and cancer impacted the relationships. The researchers found that women who were diagnosed with heart problems or who suffered strokes were at a higher risk of divorce than those who were diagnosed with lung disease or cancer. Men who were diagnosed with these diseases did not have the same increase in divorce risk.

An explanation was offered by a university sociologist who was not involved in the study. He said it’s common for the woman in a marriage to provide more support to their spouses than the men. When the wife is unable to devote as much energy to the marriage, the husband is more likely to walk away. On the other side, women tend to have broader networks of support, so when the husband gets sick, they have other outlets.

There are as many reasons for divorce as there are divorcing couples. People in Minnesota who are contemplating or going through divorce might want to schedule a meeting with a lawyer. A lawyer with experience in family law may be able to help by negotiating the terms of property division or spousal support with the other party or by drafting and filing a petition for divorce.