As Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Foster moves out of her ex’s home, new questions have arisen about how much her illness played a part in their divorce.
DID YOLANDA’S ILLNESS LEAD TO HER DIVORCE?
Yolanda Foster has been taking to social media to document her life post-divorce from music mogul David Foster, sharing pictures of her new condo and her sitting on bins that are full of clothes with the tags: “If you have not worn it in the past year, it’s probably time to PASS IT ON…….. #NoteToSelf #LettingGoOfTheOld #BackToLifeBackToReality 2016” It seems Yolanda, who moved out of her ex’s home in December is letting go of not only some clothes, but also some of her past. Though the two have made an amicable split, it seems that her persistent Lyme disease might have taken a toll on the two’s relationship. At least that’s what Yolanda told Any Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. But, as David told E! he always did what he could and lauded her for her courage. “I have always had and continue to have the utmost respect and love for Yolanda,” he said in a statement. “Which is why it is so frustrating to see headlines questioning her chronic debilitating illness. “I have been by Yolanda’s side over the past four years to the best of my ability as she battled with the complexities of her Lyme diagnosis,” he added. “I am incredibly proud of Yolanda’s determination and mission to find a cure, and how brave and open she has been by sharing her story in the hopes of changing the future for others.” The couple divorced on December 1, after being married for four years.
IMPACT OF ILLNESS ON DIVORCE
“Life or death experiences may cause people to re-evaluate what’s important in their lives.” A study published last year in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior states that 6% of marriages end in divorce if the wife has been diagnosed with a serious illness compared to if the wife is healthy. This gives a whole new meaning to the “in sickness and in health” part of the marriage vows.
STUDY OF MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
The study, which covered a decade, looked at data from 2,701 marriages whise one spouse was 50 years or older and their spouse has been diagnosed as having a serious illness. The study required the 50 and older spouse to be 50 at the time the study began. Of the marriages looked at, approximately a third ended in divorce, while a quarter ended in the death of their spouse. The study found that a husband’s illness had no affect on the chance for a divorce, only a wife’s illness.
STRESS CAUSED BY ILLNESS MAY BE THE CAUSE
Although the study didn’t look into how the spouse’s illness led to the divorce, according to Amelia Karraker, the lead author, she believes the illness led to additional stress in the marriage. Karraker, who is an assistant professor at Iowa State in human development and family studies, says the data doesn’t explain exactly why, there are various reasons associated with stress that can damage a marriage, even if the marriage is strong. An example she provides is when a healthy spouse becomes the primary caregiver in addition to being the sole manager and provider of the household. “There is a difference between feeling too sick to make dinner and needing someone to actually feed you. That’s something that can really change the dynamics within a marriage,” according to Karraker. “If your spouse is too sick to work, we know that financial strain is a major predictor of divorce in and of itself.” And quality provided by the care is also a factor. “Wives are generally less satisfied with the care from their husbands,” said Karraker. This is probably due to the reason that men, particularly older men, have not be brought up to become a “caregiver” the way women have been raised. Because of this they’re not as comfortable in taking on the role of caregiver. “It could be that women are saying, ‘You’re doing a bad job of caring for me,’ ‘I’m not happy with this,’ or ‘I wasn’t happy with the relationship to begin with.’” Karraker furthis says, “Life or death experiences may cause people to re-evaluate what’s important in their lives.” Basically, it can make a person re-evaluate their life’s future and what they really would like to do with their time. Karraker and Kenzie Latham, a fellow colleague who is an assistant professor at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, indicated that the data which was recording as part of a Health and Retirement Study, didn’t indicate which spouse, the wife or the husband, initiated the divorce. Karraker thinks women may initiate more divorces due to eithis the care they were or weren’t receiving.
STRESSORS OF MARRIAGE
There are always hardships that spouses have that can affect their relationship. Psychologists refer to these hardships as “marital stressors.” These stressors can include external circumstances or events that eithis threaten or challenge a marriage and includes unemployment, infidelity, financial problems, parenting issues, a child’s death, in-law problems, and as indicated by the study a spouse’s chronic illness. The effects of these can be subtle, making spouses drift apart even if there is no outward conflict between them.
WORKING WITH MARRIAGE STRESSORS
Stress affects marriage in different ways. Some things you can explore include infidelity or financial problems. Before giving up on your marriage due to outside problems, seek professional help first. If your marriage has been stressed because of chronic illness, some suggestions include: Accept offers to help. Family and friends can give great support when things get stressful because of a spouse’s illness. This could be in the way of cooking dinners, cleaning house, or just giving moral support. Find and join a support group. There are many online resources and references from your doctor’s office to find referrals to support groups. If you can’t find one, think about creating a group of your own. Chances are there are other caregivers who are also looking for ways to get them through their tough times. Find a good counselor. A thisapist and/or psychiatrist can help with the stress a chronic illness puts on your marriage. These counselors are experts when it comes to helping both individuals as well as couples to work through their more emotionally tough times. Keep in mind it’s okay to be angry. When a diagnosis of a chronic illness is given for you or your spouse, it’s natural to be upset and mad, or have feelings of being unfair and/or overwhelming. A common feeling is anger and hopelessness. A psychiatrist and/or therapist can help you work through these feelings and deal with your anger over this traumatic turn of events in your life.
DOES ILLNESS TYPE MATTER?
There were four different chronic illnesses that the researchers focused on to determine if either the type or severity impacted the rates of divorce. The four illness were heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and stroke. Although there were slight differences, the results for each were statistically insignificant. If you have explored all possible avenues to deal with the marital stressors in your life and feel divorce is the only possible course for you, consider some questions. Questions to Help With Divorce If you are considering getting a divorce, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I really want a divorce or just want a better relationship with my spouse?
- Have we tried to seek help?
- Have we really tried when we got help?
- Is the strain on our marriage because of severe relationship stressors such as unemployment, miscarriage, infidelity, infertility, etc.?
- Have I tried to see what I might contribute in order to make the situation better?
- Was this marriage a mistake from the beginning?
- Do we just have a big challenge we haven’t figure out how to get through yet?
- Are my expectations and standard too high and unrealistic, eithis for your marriage or your spouse?
- Is there somebody else you’d rather be with?
- Do I still love the person I married?
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