In Sickness and in Health? That Depends.


In Sickness and in Health?  That Depends.

One would think wedding vows are unambiguous.  Straightforward.  No subtext, no exceptions.  Love is love.



"Not so,” say some men.  “If you get really sick or disabled, I’m outta here.”

A study published in the journal Cancer reported that, of the 515 married patients with serious cancer or multiple sclerosis followed over 5 years, the divorce rate was about the same as among the general population, 11.6%.  The difference was that women were 6 times more likely to be the ones being left.  Women tend to stay when there’s a chronic  condition; men tend to leave.  There are lots of theories about why this happens; one that’s floated is that it isn’t in a man to be a caregiver — it isn’t natural.  

There are some assumptions here I don’t know if I buy:

1.  Men leave because they don’t know how to be caregivers.
So ask.  Educate yourself.  Get outside yourself.   We’re as helpless as we choose to be.    There are lots of things we get challenged to figure out.  I just talked with a client who expressed deep pride in her ability to move her computer and printer to another place in the house without waiting for her spouse (who worked 100 miles away)  to reattach all the wires.   She didn’t know how, but she figured it out.  I think about the things I don’t even attempt because David’s The Man and those things are “his job”.  Shame on me if those are things I could do but give away instead.

2.  Men and women have different roles.
In a traditional society, that’s fine.  But in today’s crazy world, the password is “get ‘er done.”  It doesn’t matter who cooks, who makes the most money, who puts the laundry away, who picks up the kids from daycare, and who bathes them at night.  The way to survive craziness is to be adaptable.  The reality isn’t the same reality as it was 50 years ago:  some women are breadwinners while their men are househusbands; more women are in the workforce now as two income families are the norm and not the exception.


This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Kathe Skinner

Marriage and Family Therapist

Kathe Skinner, M.A.



Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Credentials: LMFT, MA
Other Articles/News by Kathe Skinner:

Unconditional Love: Is It Real Or Just A Romantic Illusion?


When your love is unconditional, nothing can tear it asunder. What exists is the-two-of-you-as-one — infallible, ageless, timeless, and forever. New lovers are intoxicated by the overwhelming emotion, each other and by the potent chemical cocktail that results. But here's what you have to know: unconditional love is a romantic illusion, and one that ... Read more

You're Totally Normal: The 6 Most Common Reactions To Divorce


My ex-husband was a big shot in a small town sort of way. He thrived on the attention he got; I wilted because of it. When I dropped the "d-bomb", his reaction was predictable. And when he remarried it was, as he put it, because he "had to have somebody" in his life. But what about me? How did I feel once I got what I wanted? Read on to ... Read more

Verbal Bunders: Did You Really Say That?


Open mouth, insert foot. It's the verbal equivalent of walking through a restaurant with toilet peper on your shoe. We've all  experienced the mortification of poor verbal choices.  Sometimes, embarrassing stuff just happens.  Letting those blunders happen more often than not, though, is a problem that goes beyond stuff that ... Read more

See More

Latest Expert Videos
Must-see Videos
Most Popular