Couples in Pennsylvania might be more likely to get a divorce if the wife becomes ill. According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2015, the divorce risk increases only when it is the wife who gets sick.

This is supported by other research that has found a higher divorce risk for women who develop cancer. Furthermore, researchers at Purdue University and Iowa State University looked at more than 2,700 marriages and found heart problems and stroke were an even bigger predictor of divorce than lung disease or cancer, but only for women. One sociologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reports that research also indicates that the health benefits men enjoy from marriage generally do not apply to women.

Women tend to provide more care in a marriage than men, and some men might be more likely to leave their wives when they become too ill to provide that care. Women also tend to have more support systems in place, so they may have more friends and family members they can turn to compared to men. However, most of the research has been done among older couples who are in traditional gender roles. This pattern may change with younger couples.

When spouses do go through a divorce, there are other typical scenarios that fall along gender lines. For example, women are more likely to be the main caregivers for children, which can have an effect on custody issues. On the other hand, men are still more likely to be considered the main breadwinners, which can have an effect on alimony. An attorney can help a divorcing spouse sort through the unique characteristics of a split and achieve a fair resolution.