The study, Gender Disparity in the Rate of Partner Abandonment in Patients with Serious Medical Illness, was authored by doctors at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and focused on relationship in which one spouse was diagnosed with either cancer or multiple sclerosis. Women were six times more likely to be abandoned by their spouse than men.
Researchers believe that the discrepancy might be related to men's historically primary role as a provider as opposed to a woman's historically primary role as a nurturer - or that the issue my simply be that men have more trouble with the emotional aspects that come with a serious health condition. They are also quick to note that even though considerably more men leave their wives at the time of an illness, the vast majority of couples weather bad diagnoses together. In addition, doctors add that the study did not ask participants about the condition of their marriage before divorce or whether other issues played a role in the decision to end the relationship.
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