Relationships don’t always survive stressful situations – like a cancer diagnosis. But here’s a shocker: Women are 6 times more likely to be divorced or separated after they’ve been diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis than men with the same life-threatening diseases.

Like one Indianapolis resident we read about, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. Her husband skipped her first radiation treatment – saying that he was too busy at work to come with her.  But when she got home that night, she discovered he’d moved out.

Dr. Marc Chamberlain is the chief of neuro-oncology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. And he says that men are raised to be primary providers.  But they’re not always well-equipped to be primary caregivers. So they often have trouble managing the stress and logistics of caring for someone with a life-threatening disease.

The good news is: Experts say that a majority of relationships survive. And the longer a couple has been together – the more likely they are to stay together through the ordeal of cancer.

And some men embrace the caregiver role so wholeheartedly that they redefine themselves.  Like journalist Mark Silver, author of the blog “Breast Cancer Husband”.  He now gives lectures on care-giving to husbands with wives who are ill.

And some couples find they love each other more after a diagnosis. In fact, one woman we read about was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after a first date.  The man she’d just met not only continued to date her, but they’ve been happily married for 10 years.