Des Moines, IA-When a couple marries, they are supposed to stay together through the good times and the bad times, including when a one spouse becomes very sick. But a new study shows that when that spouse is the wife, their husbands are less willing to stand by them and are more likely to file for divorce.

Researchers from Iowa State University found that when a wife falls ill, there is a 6 percent greater chance that her husband will file for divorce, according to Radio Iowa. As it turns out men don’t really take the “In sickness and in health” vow too seriously if their wives get sick.

But when the husband falls ill, there is no increased chance of divorce.

“So, for women traditionally, caregiving is something that women do throughout their lives. Men, it’s maybe less normative, and less comfortable and potentially more stressful,” lead author of the study, Amelia Karraker told Iowa Radio.

For the study, researchers followed 2,701 marriages over twenty years. When the study began at least one of the spouses has to be 51 years-old according to the Daily Mail. Eventually, 34 percent of the couples ended up getting a divorce and 24 percent ended because one spouse passed away.

Karraker said that in many cases, the wives file for divorce because they aren’t confident their husbands can be caregivers. A serious illness also puts a financial strain on a marriage and that can lead to an eventual breakdown of the relationship.

The results were similar to a study from May of last year which also focused on older couples. In that study researchers looked at how four serious illnesses, cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke affected the marriages of participating couples. They found that 31 percent of couples divorce after the onset of illness. In 15 percent of those instances it was the wife who fell ill.

If the man initiates divorce, researchers said it is likely he is seeking a partner in better health.

These studies could explain divorce among the senior set has risen so dramatically in the past two decades. Since 1990, “gray divorce has increased threefold for seniors up to age 65. The divorce rate for the over 65 group increased fivefold over the same time period.

Divorce is no longer the taboo that it used to be, and older couples no longer feel obliged to stay in an unhappy marriage simply because society says they have to. And when it comes to divorcing in your twilight years, there are many things to worry about such as health insurance and retirement benefits. An Iowa divorce attorney will make certain that a senior gets a fair settlement that meets their needs.

It’s not easy walking away from a marriage at the any age, but seniors don’t have the time their younger counterparts do and need a divorce attorney on their side. A divorce attorney can guide a couple through this difficult time and protect their interests in the process.