Many different factors may play into the unraveling of a marriage, not the least of which is the physical health of one or more of the partners. We don't generally like to think of illness or injury as being a deciding factor in divorce; after all, the marriage vows include the phrase, “In sickness and in health.” However, any life-altering or cataclysmic event tends either to bring two people together or to drive them apart—and sometimes both. The onset of significant injury or a serious illness (especially a prolonged one) may definitely qualify as a life-altering event. As a result, it can affect how the two partners relate to one another.
Take, for example, actor/comedian Tracy Jordan and his wife, Megan Wollover, who recently reported that they were filing for divorce after five years of marriage. They were married only 14 months after Jordan had suffered extensive injuries in a collision with a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer, and the actor claims that wedding preparations were a huge factor in his recovery process. While the couple is not discussing the details of their divorce publicly—nor would we care to speculate—Jordan's injuries and subsequent recovery were obviously present in their relationship from the beginning, and the changing dynamic of his recovery may have been a contributing factor in their subsequent split.
How Illness or Injury May Contribute to Divorce
The presence or onset of illness or injury can affect different couples in sometimes surprising ways. Let's look at some common examples of how marriages may unravel due to partner illness/injury:
- The “Florence Nightingale” effect—the common occurrence where a nurse falls in love with the patient, and vice versa. This effect doesn't have to happen with just healthcare professionals; it can also occur when romantic partners bond around an illness/injury, and one partner assumes the role of caregiver. When the “patient” recovers and caregiving is no longer needed, the romance can wane.
- The stress surrounding an injury/illness. If the event occurs when the couple is already married, the illness or injury can upstage the relationship and disrupt the home, causing undue stress. Sometimes the non-injured partner stays on for a time out of a sense of guilt, but the pressure is sometimes enough to weaken the marital bond.
- Changes in personality. The presence of constant pain can alter one's personality over time. So can certain illnesses or injuries that affect parts of the brain. Marriages sometimes dissolve simply because one person feels their partner is no longer the same person they married.
Of course, injury and illness is not always a “deal-breaker” for marriages. In optimal circumstances, crises like these often bring people closer together instead of driving a wedge between them. However, if the health or well-being of you or your spouse is adversely affecting your marriage, know that you are not alone. It happens more often than you think.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are highly experienced in helping families navigate the complicated waters of divorce. If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey and need a compassionate attorney to represent your interests, call our offices at 888-535-3686 for an appointment today.