Whatever Happened to "in Sickness and in Health?"

Women who suffer a serious illness are seven times as likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems.

Getting diagnosed with stage four cancer would be traumatic for anyone — but especially for a mother with a one-year-old child. What makes 36-year-old Elisa Bond's situation almost unimaginably difficult, however, is this: A week before learning that she had breast cancer that had already spread to the liver, pelvic bones; and spine, her husband Nathan found out that he had rectal cancer.

This inspiring couple is doing an admirable job of keeping their spirits up, even as they go through chemotherapy together — and continue to raise a child.

"We have always felt like a very united couple, very much a team," Elisa told The New York Times for a recent feature the paper did on the family. "We do everything together. Having cancer together was this odd, almost fitting description of us."

(Elisa is keeping a blog, Family "Bond"ing Time, about the couple's diagnosis and treatment, and their pals have created a "Friends of Nathan and Elisa" site to raise money to offset the family's health costs.)

"Our lives are not tragic," Elisa, who worked for a real estate broker, told The Times. "We've always felt blessed and happy. It's hard to take that away even in the face of something scary and seemingly insurmountable."

The story also mentioned a very interesting, rather dismaying statistic: A 2009 report found that women who suffered a serious illness were seven times as likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems. It's hard to know what to say about that, except that I wonder if it's because the women become so fed up with their spouses' inability to be emotionally supportive that they think getting out of the relationship would be less traumatic than staying in it? Or if societal or cultural conditioning make men think it's okay to walk away from a difficult situation? Or if men just feel so totally unequipped to deal with comforting their partners that they freak?

I don't really know what to think, except that hearing this makes me think my friend's boyfriend, who has stuck by her throughout her illness, is all the more awesome. What are your thoughts?