Aging and disease do not only strike married people. Divorced people are just as likely to come down with serious illnesses or experience chronic health problems associated with aging. The only difference is that there is nobody around to help care for a sick person after a divorce.
Or is there? According to an article by United Press International, a study from the University of Missouri found many women caring for their ex-husbands during a serious illness or toward the end of the ex-husbands’ lives. The study suggested that such an arrangement is actually more common than many would believe, and many of the women involved enjoyed the experience. However, others did not.
The two researchers behind the study conducted a series of phone interviews with women who said they were caregivers for their ex-husband. The reasons behind the women’s generosity varied, but tended to involve the children. Having children together kept the divorced couples in each other’s lives after the marriage ended. Caring for an ailing ex-husband seems to be a way to please the children. One of the researchers said that maintaining good relations with the children was a “strong motivator” for many of the women who agreed to take care of their ex-husbands.
Some women reported that the experience was positive for them. They found that their ex-husbands’ illness softened them and made their interactions less fraught with conflict.
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The study did not examine how often men care for their ex-wives when they get sick.