Divorcing your spouse because they are ill

United States
September 17, 2011 5:57am CST
I'm surprised I had not seen it on here yet. But televangelist Pat Robertson is condoning a man to divorce his wife who has Alzheimers and considers the disease a form of "death". Now I'm not very relegious but I assume when your vows say in "in sickness and in heath" that this disease counts as sickness and in no way is the person "dead" http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110916/pat-robertson-alzheimers-patients-110916/20110916/?hub=EdmontonHome But in away this reminds me of the guy in Florida who wanted to pull the plug on his wife (who was in a somewhat vegatative state) a few years ago, despite her parents wishes so he could move on and re-marry. I forgot the name but it was on the news for some time a few years back because the parents and the husband were battling her right to live in court. Do you think people should divorce because their spouse had become ill and it is overwhelming? Or do you think they should suck it up, get as much support as they can and deal with it like any other issue that comes up?
12 people like this
17 responses
@pergammano (7755)
• Canada
17 Sep 11
Dear snuggles...have been watching all your discussions, but have been in a "funk" of my own! 23rd will know the results of all my biopsies! You are brave..and a true inspiration. To respond to this discussion, I must admit I am a fence-sitter..as I would have to know, in intirety the full circumstances for each individual case. It is so hard to be God, Judge and Jury! When I see/hear of situations like this, I reflect back on my brother-in-law, and being part of the family decision to end his life. All I can say, (it haunted me so badly) is that .."Thank goodness, it was NOT my decision --ALONE!" But the "what if's" still haunt me! Sorry, I can't be more definitive!
• United States
18 Sep 11
Yes I do think it would be easier to hear all the details before passing judgement. GL w/ the biopsie results!
1 person likes this
• Canada
19 Sep 11
Thank you for the good luck! This discussion, yesterday, conjured UP all the memories, of that horrible decision making time, and I did a lot of reflecting..and I think I came "off the fence," and realized that each case should be taken, as a singular issue..and know ALL of the details! There are definitely cases where there is NO hope, and then there are documented cases, where the individuals came out of a coma, after many years! Is it the quality of life..or the quanitity..I know I have made that decision, and also have a "Living Will" so that decision is not left in the hands of my loved ones. And it gave me cause to reflect on the fraility of life. Got my thought processes revved up...Good discussion! Cheers!
@cerebellum (3871)
• United States
19 Sep 11
I think once you say your vows you should make every attempt to keep them. After all, you are supposed to love your spouse no matter what. I think it is a shame that people want to leave their spouses when they get ill. That is when they are needed the most and I know illness is not what most people sign up for, but you never know what is going to happen when you get married. I am convinced that my ex-husband would have left me sooner, if I was in the shape I am in now. I am disabled and I can't see him sticking with someone "damaged".
2 people like this
@savypat (20247)
• United States
17 Sep 11
I think that if you are faced with a spouse who has totally lost the ability to even know you are there, it has to be a consideration of how much of your own life you are willing to give up. I watched on the television a true story where, the man. a quite famous man, divorced his wife who had alzheeimers and remarried. He and his new wife kept the connection with the first wife totally open, they both loved her and visited as often as they could. It seemed to me that these people had dealth with a situation in a very good way.
@GemmaR (8526)
17 Sep 11
I think this is one of those situations that you don't really know what you'd do unless you were put in that situation yourself. I like to think that I would stick by my partner and be with him throughout the course of his illness, but if I'm being honest with you, I don't know if I would be strong enough to actually do that if it should happen to me for real at some point during my life. The thing is with things like dementia is that the person isn't the person you fell in love with anymore, so I guess that it might get to the point where you don't feel as though you can stay with them anymore for that reason.
2 people like this
• Grand Junction, Colorado
17 Sep 11
In the second situation you discuss I think that the husband was within his rights to want to move on. If memory serves correct she had been on life support for sometime. That takes a toll on ones own health. The first situation I have mixed feelings about, the person is alive, and while may not recognize you all the time they are still aware of what's going on around them. I do think its wrong for a clergyman to say its ok to divorce a peron just because they have Alzheimer's. I think that he should be more supportive and offer counseling help him get into support groups. That's my opinion.
@patgalca (14301)
• Orangeville, Ontario
17 Sep 11
If it is a real loving marriage than a partner should always want to put the other partner first. I know this isn't always realistic but if you want to bolt because the person is sick then how much do you really love them? And this just isn't in the case of sickness, as you mentioned. You should do everything in your power to save your marriage. There are of course, as Dr. Phil says, dealbreakers - abuse, substance abuse, etc. My first husband was abusive, and substance abusive, and I did everything I could to save that marriage. I did not want to walk away. In the end, he did. And a good thing too. I am better for it. But I worked hard to make that marriage work. Problem is, he didn't. Some people are in their marriage for the wrong reasons and you can tell when they give up so easily. If you really love your partner you'd stick it out.
2 people like this
• United States
17 Sep 11
Most people stay with their spouses throughout the disease. However, it isn't uncommon for them to have someone else in their lives. It happens, and it is relatively accepted by anyone who has seen what Alzheimer's or Parkinson's can do to a person. It also isn't unheard of for the patient to form a love attachment to someone other than his/her spouse. It happens. You don't divorce a spouse for something such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. These are not things that the person has control over (it is a different case if, say, a person elects to live a very reckless life and develops an easily preventable disease). You stand by that person. You provide what support you can. However, you need to have a life outside of the illness.
1 person likes this
@deedee328 (1127)
• United States
17 Sep 11
The people that stay married to the ill spouse and have a relationship with someone else is no better in my opinion than the low down person who would have divorced the ailing spouse.
1 person likes this
@joanna83 (16)
18 Sep 11
It's terrible even think if I will be ill my housband is going to leave me.What about so many years spent together?
1 person likes this
@34momma (13896)
• United States
18 Sep 11
that is a really hard one. I don't know if moving on is something I would be able to do. but that's just me. If someone did all they could for their spouse and there is nothing more they could do, i guess moving on and finding some happiness is ok. there is no right and wrong in this case... it's a hard one
• United States
18 Sep 11
I think Pat Robertson must also be suffering from some form of Alzheimer's disease himself he must have forgotten what the Bible says. As a televangelist to make such a statement which is absolutely contrary to what the bible says about marriage he is condoning adultery. Shame, shame, shame! The marriage vows is a contract and when a person vows in sickness and health that cannot be broken out of convenience.
1 person likes this
• United States
18 Sep 11
I think they should stick with it and get the kind of support they need to get them all through as that is part of the vow. Pretty lame for them to walk out on the first opportunity.
1 person likes this
@eseulhan (199)
• Philippines
17 Sep 11
I think people who are divorcing their wives or husbands just because they are sick are stupid! Sorry to say that but thats not true love! Where did the promise go that in sickness and health you'd always be together? What? Did they become suddenly deaf or blind? I dont understand why there are people like that. If i is in that place, the sick wife, i would rather choose my husband not to marry me than leaving me the time i needed him the most.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (48609)
• United States
17 Sep 11
This topic makes my blood pressure rise, and because I have a migraine I'm going to just tell a story that will say it all for me. My mom is 52 and has dementia. The kind that she has is different than what you normally hear of. She knows who everyone is. She just doesn't know what a toothbrush is, or a fork, and she stops talking because she can't remember how to finish a sentence. She frequently poops in her pants because she forgets she needs to go to the bathroom. When she does remember, she'll go into the bathroom, flush the toilet, and come back out without ever using it. She paces the house and cannot be far from my dad or she throws a fit. She wakes my dad up in the middle of the night to tell him she needs to do something. But she doesn't know what. He has to bathe her, feed her, dress her, and wait on her hand and foot. She also tends to get violent. Yet my 56 year old dad does all of this with firm resolve and the memory of the woman she was. And knowing that he isn't going to desert his best friend because the "worst" in their lives came very early. She's also meaner than a snake half the time and has hit, punched, and shoved me. She's also hit him too. The woman she is now bears no resemblance to the woman she was. If my dad can do this, then....
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Nov 11
if you divorce a spouse because they're ill,you're a poor excuse for humanity. and a supposedly "christian" man even suggesting it is even more disgusting,and i would think against their own book.
@andy77e (5165)
• United States
21 Sep 11
I pretty much ignore anyone that is on TV. That would include Pat Robertson.
@Nadinest1 (2040)
• Canada
20 Sep 11
If something like this happened to my husband, I would want to look after him etc....because I still love him. If a spouse wants to divorce, I feel that there might have been problems before the sickness occurred.
@cream97 (29169)
• United States
17 Sep 11
Hi, 3SnuggleBunnies. Is this man in any relation to Oral Roberts? I think that his false teaching is wacko. He is teaching people the wrong way of holding onto their marriage. Whatever happened to the wedding vows? These are vows that the couple has made with each other and to God Himself. I don't think that a spouse should divorce his/her spouse just because they may have Alzheimers disease. This reminds me of how Christopher Reeves, wife, stood by him, when he was paralyzed. She never left his side at all. She stayed loyal and dedicated to him. I believe that Mr. Roberts should think about their marriage life really hard. Once he does this, he will be able to understand that his way of teaching is completely out of line. I just hope that the people, that have listened to his message are not so naive to believe every word that he has said!