Lisa A. McCombs
3 min readApr 18, 2022



Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

It’s a sad fact, but when a medical crisis strikes, divorce can follow — especially if the wife is sick. I don’t know whether to be flattered by the inferred strength of women or insulted at the inference that the female partner is of little or no impact on a relationship.

The assumption that the female gender is the stronger of genders is no surprise to me. Women seem to possess a strength uncommon in men. Women push watermelon-sized objects from their bodies and subsequently produce nourishment for sustenance. The average adult woman juggles household chores, organizes daily schedules, provides taxi services, maintains a laundry business, and operates a functional kitchen.

Not to start a gender war, but this recent news story bothers me.

A marriage falling apart after a serious diagnosis is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found.

Divorce risk higher when the wife is ill

But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is the patient, researchers at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance reported in the journal Cancer.

They did a study after noticing “divorce appeared to occur almost exclusively when the wife was the disease-afflicted partner.” The phenomenon was called “partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness.”

The results were based on 515 patients at three medical centers who had a brain tumor, cancer or multiple sclerosis, and were married at the time of diagnosis. About half were women.

When the patients were followed for four to five years to see if their marital status changed, it turned out the woman was the affected spouse in almost 90% of separations, with the female gender found to be the strongest predictor of separation or divorce

Read the entire story here:

Sometimes, as the sole human female (the cat has her own responsibilities)in my household, I just need to take a break. As a relatively new empty-nester, I have reclaimed my independence from stereotypical expectations. As an MS Warrior empty-nester, I prioritize those expectations to better fit my abilities.

I do not cook every day.

I wash clothes twice a week only.

Dusting and vacuuming occur once a week and only if needed.

My time is better devoted to enjoyable tasks such as writing, reading, and yarn sports. (Trust me, knitting a wearable sock is about as daunting as hitting a hole-in-one.) I don’t have time for marital issues. I can’t make everyone happy all the time and remain sane.

In a perfect world, life partners work together to make a marriage work. On Planet MS, equality rarely exists. THAT is the reason we call ourselves Warriors. Comments like “I feel your pain”, “I see your struggle”, or “I know it's difficult” don’t cut it in my world.

If you feel it, help me soothe it.

If you see it, take action.

If you know it, work with me for an answer.

Lip service doesn’t provide peace.

Loving attention does.

I’ll rarely ask for help, but so appreciate a silent hand.

Women are not disposable, especially when diagnosed with a serious illness. If we normally don’t ask for help, don’t expect us to do so after a diagnosis.

We don’t know how.

Lisa, The Lady With the Cane