New Jersey couples may be interested to learn that a study recently published in a scholarly journal found that couples are more likely to head to divorce if the wife becomes ill. If the husband becomes ill, however, the likelihood that the couple will divorce does not increase.

Researchers from two Midwestern universities tracked 2,701 married couples between 1992 and 2010 to see if the onset of illness affected their marriages. While the onset of illnesses for both the wife and husband increased the likelihood of widowhood, the wife’s illness onset affected the rate of divorce to a greater extent than did the illness of the husband. According to the data, 32 percent of the marriages in the study ended in divorce, with younger couples more likely to see their marriages break down.

The lead author argued that the onset of illness could cause stress as the healthy spouse would become responsible for both the household and the sick spouse. Additionally, a spouse that is too sick to work could result in serious financial stress, which has long been associated with divorce. The lead author also theorized that sick wives may initiate a divorce if the care provided by their husbands was not satisfactory. However, the data for the study did not include which spouse actually initiated the divorce.

No matter what factored into the decision to call off a marriage, divorce proceedings can be extremely difficult for all of those involved. Not only can it negatively affect any children involved, the couple may have difficulty when it comes to dividing up property or monetary assets. If the ex-couple do not find mediation helpful, a family law attorney may help determine the value of any marital assets owned and negotiate a comprehensive settlement agreement.

Source: Deseret News, “Divorce more likely when wife has serious illness”, Lois M. Collins, March 6, 2015