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Do Men Leave Their Wives When They Get Sick?

by Danielle Wright

A recent conversation has surfaced on social media platforms regarding the issue of men leaving their sick wives.

This discussion gained momentum after a viral post highlighted the disparity in prison visitations between genders, revealing that incarcerated men receive more visits from females compared to incarcerated women. So, what's the connection?


According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, marriages where the wife falls ill have a 6% higher chance of ending in divorce than marriages where the wife remains healthy. The determining factor for whether a man will remain with his wife seems to hinge on her perceived usefulness to the marriage or relationship.


In March 2023, news reports revealed that Wolfgang Porsche chose to divorce his wife due to her dementia-like illness. The 79-year-old billionaire cited his 74-year-old wife Claudia's illness as the reason for their separation, citing "drastic changes" in her personality. One might question, however, what significance her usefulness held for a billionaire who could easily afford assistance for their daily needs.


Partner abandonment, as this phenomenon is termed, can occur at any stage of a relationship, as one partner may decide it is in their best interest to walk away and start anew elsewhere. This often results in significant challenges for the abandoned spouse, particularly in cases where communication is cut off entirely, making it difficult to pursue spousal support, divorce proceedings, child support, or other forms of assistance. Notably, nearly 90% of abandoned spouses are women.


Another user shared her story of betrayal (based on true events inspiring the story, 'Oxygen' found in this compilation novel: Covenant), recounting how her then-boyfriend began a relationship with someone else while she was injured during Army training. Her injury necessitated two surgeries, rendering her unable to walk for a total of seven months in 2014.


During this challenging period, her boyfriend embarked on a relationship with another woman, who he impregnated a few months later. The couple welcomed their first child in September 2015, leaving our user feeling shocked and betrayed, spiraling into depression.


The impact of being abandoned by a partner during illness is profound and far-reaching, extending beyond mere emotional distress. Research indicates that patients abandoned during illness are more likely to rely on antidepressants, participate less in treatment trials, and experience more frequent hospitalizations. This is often attributed to the sudden loss of access to healthcare and the resulting financial strain, which exacerbates stress levels. Typically, the abandoned spouse's survival rates are lower compared to those whose partners remain by their side.

Related articles: Shacking Up Before Marriage


The alarming divorce rate among men who abandon their sick wives has led to nurses being trained to caution female patients against disclosing their illness to their partners. But why is this the case? Several factors may contribute to this trend, including the stress of caregiving, the challenge of adjusting to the caregiver role, and financial constraints.


Men, especially those who are the primary breadwinners, may struggle to adapt their schedules or afford outside assistance to care for an ailing spouse. The financial burden of healthcare expenses, which can amount to thousands or even millions annually, further compounds the challenges faced by couples dealing with serious illness.

For the average working American, healthcare can cost as much as $13,493 per person annually. This means that if the husband is the breadwinner on a salary of $150,000/year, less $34,415 in taxes, the spouse now earns around $115,585 a year, with $26,986 deducted for healthcare expenses, resulting in an annual income of approximately $88,599.


However, this does not cover day-to-day expenses, which can easily lower the income on a monthly basis. Additionally, we must account for the fact that cancer treatment, on average, can range from $48,000 annually to $1 million without insurance, and more than $10,000 annually with coinsurance.


As more traditional wives come forward, women are learning to build communities around one another, shifting the focus away from men. One user commented, “I really do believe that women, like all women—even those who are attracted to and date men, need to shift their focus to loving women and loving women more. Whether it's platonic, romantic, or familial.” Another wrote, “If there's one thing I've learned from women before me, it is to not make huge life-altering sacrifices for men. They do not deserve such love and commitment.”


However, men are clapping back, stating that women initiate 70% of divorces for far less reasons than having a sick spouse. Unfortunately, this does not nullify the original question since two things can be true at once. Men can leave their sick partners in droves, and women can initiate 70% of divorces. But the truth is that, on average, not every wife is guaranteed to get sick.


This survey was based on the number of women who could potentially suffer from an illness and the likelihood that she would be abandoned by her spouse. In other words, just because 60 million couples in the U.S. are married does not mean that 100% of them will have an ill partner. This study was conducted based on a small percentage of couples, and the outcome remains the same: men are more likely to abandon their ill wives or partners.


All in all, while marriage and children may be the goal for many, it would be prudent for all women to reconsider how much energy and time they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of their partnership. The overall consensus is that once a woman is no longer useful, she is no longer worth loving and expressing loyalty towards.


Men are selfish in almost every way possible, so women should not be demonized for reflecting this behavior. The concept of "survival of the fittest," made famous in the fifth edition of ‘On the Origin of Species’ by British naturalist Charles Darwin, suggests that organisms best adjusted to their environment are the most successful in surviving and reproducing. It's time for women to digest this hard truth and adjust accordingly.

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