Researchers examine link between health and divorce

In the past 50 to 60 years, much has changed. Technological advances such as the computer, Internet and cellphone have forever changed how people are able to access and share information. Likewise, advances within medicine now allow doctors to diagnose and successfully treat disease and conditions that were previously untreatable. Perhaps one of the most notable changes during the last half century relates to gender roles, specifically changing viewpoints and expectations with regard to women.

Today, record numbers of U.S. women are taking steps to obtain advanced degrees and training necessary to be successful in a competitive job market. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, 47 percent of the U.S. workforce was comprised of women. This percentage is expected to surpass the 50 percent mark by the year 2018 with women making up the majority of the U.S. workforce.

For individuals who are over the age of 50, many have a much more traditional view of women and their role in society. This notion, university researchers believe, may help account for the findings of a recent study which aimed to examine the link between illness and divorce amongst married couples where at least one spouse was over the age of 50.

For the study, researchers examined the marriages of roughly 2,700 couples from 1992 to 2010 where both spouses were initially deemed healthy. By the year 2010, 47 percent of study participants had developed some type of illness. Of the couples impacted by an illness, 24 percent resulted in a sick spouse dying and 31 percent of impacted couples divorced.

Of the 31 percent of couples who divorced, 15 percent involved cases in which the woman fell ill. Researchers speculate the high divorce rate in cases where the woman was ill may be related to viewpoints related to traditional gender roles and how women of this generation are often viewed, particularly by their spouses, as caretakers.

While the results of this study are interesting, there are often a myriad of reasons that lead to a couple’s divorce. Regardless of age, individuals who are unhappy in a marriage may choose to speak to a divorce attorney who can provide advice and assistance through the divorce process.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Wives Who Fall Ill Are At Greater Risk For Divorce Than Men, New Study Says,” Taryn Hillin, May 1, 2014Time, “Divorce More Likely When Wife Falls Ill,” Alexandra Sifferlin, May 1, 2014U.S. Department of Labor, “Women in the Labor Force in 2010,” 2014

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