As a single lady with a disability, I have lots of complicated and tangled thoughts about romantic relationships. While there’s a lot to say there (my therapist can attest to that), it all boils down to my belief about myself (which I want to make very clear is how I think about me, not something I think applies to any other person with a disability in the entire world ever) that my disability makes me too much of a handful, too much work, too much effort, too much pain in the ass, to be worth loving.
This is of course demonstrably untrue – I have friends and family who love me dearly and demonstrate that daily. I have been in romantic relationships in the past as a person with a disability, relationships that ended for reasons not at all related to my disability. And so most of the time, this fear is a tiny tiny voice in the far back of my head that only comes out when things get especially dark.
But then there are actual studies like this: Men Leave: Separation And Divorce Far More Common When The Wife Is The Patient. Some findings:
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 were surprised by the difference in separation and divorce rates by gender. The rate when the woman was the patient was 20.8 percent compared to 2.9 percent when the man was the patient. “Female gender was the strongest predictor of separation or divorce in each of the patient groups we studied,” said Marc Chamberlain, M.D., a co-corresponding author and director of the neuro-oncology program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).
The study was relatively limited – it examined only patients diagnosed with either multiple sclerosis or significant brain tumors. And it did find that longer marriages were much less likely to result in separation or divorce. But overall, I found this pretty disheartening.