Heartbreak

It's True: Men Leave Sick Wives

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woman in hospital's bed

When you’re a woman who wants to be single, someone will inevitably bring up sickness. Who will take care of you when you’re sick?

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Well, the answer is … your husband might just leave you anyway. I have long seen this in my own life and suspected it. But there seems to be a lot of evidence out there that supports this.

TikTok user @jennifergarnerofficial discusses how, when a wife has cancer, it’s common for the husband to bail, and oncology nurses are all well aware.

“He will leave her when she is sick, dying of cancer,” she says in her video. And she’s not the only one who has complained about this.

“My sister had stage four cancer and her ex-husband complained about her not doing her part to clean up. I will never forget that for as long as I live.” — Christie Sanchez said in a now-deleted tweet that made it to a Guardian article.

Her stepdad also tapped out of his marriage to her mother when her health declined.

And these are not just anecdotes: Science backs it up. A study in 2009 showed that men were seven times more likely to leave their sick partner than the other way around.

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The study concluded that “female gender was found to be a strong predictor of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness.”

And this confirms a lot of what I’ve seen. I’ve seen a lot of disappointed women think their husbands will step up, and do the cleaning and child-rearing…only to be disappointed when instead, a mopey adolescent complaining about not having as much sex shows up.

I think a lot of women have this idea, and so I’ve always told myself to see how people show up in day-to-day life, instead of thinking: “Well, he’s a slob now, but if he really had to, he would step up.”

Because that’s not true. People don’t necessarily step up.

Sometimes, they regress. Sometimes, they act the same. Sometimes, they act like suddenly, life is so unfair — Like having a free maid and secretary for years was part of the package, but sickness? That’s too much.

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The thing is, from what I’ve seen, if this is reversed, then the wife is an a**hole for leaving. She’s supposed to stick by her man and take care of him. That’s what wives are supposed to do.

But if men sleep around while a woman is sick, then it’s “understandable.” Then it’s about his “needs.” If he leaves her, then he has to move on and live his life.

So if I have to take care of someone else when he’s sick, but I can’t expect the same in return, then why exactly would I do that? Why would any sane person make that choice?

From what I’ve seen, when women are terribly sick, the people who step up are other women. Not their husbands.

That’s what women are seeing and deciding for themselves.

They’re listening to their relatives, looking at the data, looking back on their own stories, and deciding heck no.

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Lisa Martens is a writer who focuses on fiction, satire, and humor. She is the author of Peri and Kon: Where is Paradise?

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.