Many people in North Carolina include promises to love each other in sickness and health in their wedding vows. However, some research indicates that for some couples, that may not be the case. Specifically, when a woman experiences a serious illness, the couple experiences a higher chance of getting a divorce.

Several studies show that women who are diagnosed with cancer are at a higher risk of divorcing. However, a recent study focused on multiple illnesses, including stroke, lung disease and heart problems. The study involved 2,701 couples and led researchers to conclude that heart problems and stroke increase the risk of divorce even more than lung disease or cancer. The same increase was not seen when it was the man who experienced the serious illness.

Researchers speculate that this trend is partly caused by traditional gender roles in marriage. Specifically, woman are more likely to be the providers of care and support within a marriage. When they are no longer providing this, men may choose to leave the relationship. Additionally, researchers claim that women tend to have a wide support system of friends and family; when a man is sick, their wives have support. Men often do not have this system on which to fall back.

The study seems to show that men receive more benefits from marriage because women often carry of heavier load of responsibility. Most of the research dealing with this issue involved older couples who are more likely to follow traditional gender roles. As these roles become increasingly blurred, the increased risk of divorce that women in North Carolina and across the country who are suffering from a serious illness experience may lessen.