Nope! Marriage generally enhances people’s well-being. But it is losing a spouse that has been linked to serious declines in mental and physical health.
But rather than focusing on the effect of heartbreak, what about simply a decline in one partner's health? How does it affect their marriage?
To find out, researchers examined a nationally representative data set that tracked heterosexual marriages in which one partner was at least 50 years old from 1992 to 2010. They plucked out a sample of 2,701 marriages that met their criteria, examining who got sick with what illness and what happened to the marriages in the long run.
The key finding? “Husband’s illness onset is not associated with subsequent divorce compared with remaining married. In contrast, wife’s illness onset is positively associated with 6% higher probability of subsequent divorce compared with remaining married.”
The “marriage markets” thing seems key here. Basically, since women tend to live longer than men, “As a result, in the older population there are more women than men, which means that if you ARE a man, you have a lot more potential opposite-sex partners to choose from than women,” she said. So while the study can’t conclusively prove that older men, looking around and seeing the potential to find another mate, are spurning their sick partners, it’s not a stretch to think this might be the case.