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Older women more likely to divorce after serious illness

Although many couples are now writing their own vows, there are still plenty of couples that recite "in sickness and in health" when marrying their spouse. Those words might not be so true for couples in Oregon and elsewhere after all. A recent study found that when a wife falls ill, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce.

The study focused on data that included over 2,500 marriages over a period of 20 years. At the beginning of the 20 year period, at least one spouse from every married couple was at least 50 years old. Although not every couple was impacted by one of four substantial illnesses -- stroke, lung disease, heart problems or cancer -- those that were appeared to be affected differently than those that weren't.

In total, just under a third of all of the marriages ended in divorce. Furthermore, they found that when the wife suffered a serious illness, the marriage was more likely to end in divorce than if the husband fell ill. Although the heightened divorce rate for older couples with sick wives might appear alarming, the study did not evaluate which spouse actually filed for divorce or why these divorces occurred at a higher rate in the first place.

Although most Oregon individuals speak their marriage vows with the intent of remaining married for the rest of their life, it is impossible to anticipate changes in circumstances that can occur in the future. For some, these changes might spur a need for a divorce from a current spouse in order to continue to lead a healthy and happy life. While it still remains unclear why older women who fall ill are more likely to become divorced than their male counterparts, the substantial life changes that they undoubtedly deal with may play into one of many root causes that other divorced individuals in Oregon have dealt with.

Source: universityherald.com, "Divorce Rates in Older Couples Higher When Wives Fall Sick, Study", Stephen Adkins, May 2, 2014

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