When Dr. Marc Chamberlain, a Seattle oncologist, was treating his brain cancer patients, he noticed an alarming pattern. His male patients were typically receiving much-needed support from their wives. But a number of his female patients were going it alone, ending up separated or divorced after receiving a brain tumor diagnosis.
Dr. Chamberlain, chief of the neuro-oncology division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, had heard similar stories from his colleagues. To find out if these observations were based in fact, he embarked on a study with Dr. Michael J. Glantz of the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute and colleagues from three other institutions who began to collect data on 515 patients who received diagnoses of brain tumors or multiple sclerosis from 2001 through 2006.
The results were surprising. Women in the study who were told they had a serious illness were seven times as likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems, according to the report published in the journal Cancer.
If couples are happy before the diagnosis, it appears that men are more likely to abandon wives who become seriously ill. If couples are already troubled before a partner becomes ill, the finding suggests that women in unhappy marriages are less likely to proceed with a divorce if their husbands become ill.
“All these patients were couples when we met them, but we don’t know about pre-diagnosis marital conflicts that had been festering,” Dr. Chamberlain said. “But the striking part is with life-threatening illness, how often women are abandoned compared to men. That does not speak very well of my gender.”
Now I can hear many readers going, yeah, right, just when she needs him, he's out the door, the bastard.
Most women mull over problems, get emotional, call all their friends, go to their shrinks, get 70 opinions. This is why they have to try on everything in their closet before they go out and then ask if they look fat in this.
Men, on the other hand, are ''fixers'' and ''doers.'' They take action, pull out the tool box, get things out of the way, decide instantly, ensure that's ''taken care of.''
If you tell a guy you have heartburn, he will think you're expecting him to perform open heart surgery. Tell a woman that, and she'll get you an antacid, lecture you on chowing down on that Triple Bacon and Sausage pizza and soothe your fears that your having a heart attack.
See how it goes?
If men can't fix things, they feel like failures.
This is the very worst fate than can befall a man, that feeling of inadequacy, of not measuring up. He has been brainwashed since birth to achieve and to never lose points. Because he tends not to have emotional support systems like women do, he keeps that failure bottled up inside. Sometimes it leads to terrible tragedy -- substance abuse, suicide, murder-suicide in the case of men whose wives walk out.
Because of all this, I am not surprised that so many men feel they can't cope and quit just when they're most needed.
The uncharitable view? They're just something-the-Star-won't-let-print-here.
And that dear reader, is your 2-bit psychology lesson for today.