Some couples in Oklahoma don’t give all that much thought to the “in sickness and in health” part of traditional wedding vows. After all, not too many spouses mind occasionally having to pamper or tend to a mate who’s a bit under the weather. However, when a serious illness occurs, it can sometimes place a major strain on a marital relationship. Specifically, it’s women with health problems who are more likely to experience the end of a marriage than men.

One study found that it’s only the onset of a wife’s illness that’s associated with a greater risk of divorce. Additional clinical studies show that husbands are more likely to be the ones making a trip to a divorce law firm if their wives are diagnosed with cancer. Researchers also discovered that stroke and heart problems could increase the risk of a marriage coming to an unexpected end for women.

A sociologist commenting on these results believes men are more likely to leave an ailing spouse because it’s women who generally provide more care and support during a marriage. Also, women are more likely to have a wider support system. Men, on the other hand, tend to rely on their significant other as their sole source of support. Plus, men generally have more opportunities to remarry. Same-sex couples, however, are more likely to provide equal care and support for one another. Also, this research is based on older couples that typically adhere to traditional gender roles, so it’s entirely possible this phenomenon could eventually disappear.

When one spouse is seeking a divorce because of the other spouse’s health issues, an attorney may recommend marriage counseling or therapy before a final decision is made to end a marriage. If it’s decided to proceed with a split, a lawyer might make an effort to ease the stress of the split as much as possible, especially for the ill spouse. This may be accomplished by efforts to work out a mutually agreeable separation agreement and achieve a fair split of joint marital assets and property.