It's a common theme in romance movies but it seems it may not be that far off from the truth: A bride's pre-wedding cold feet is a strong indicator of a rocky marriage ahead, according to a new UCLA study.
UCLA psychologists say their research has shown that when women have doubts about their upcoming marriage, they are more likely to end up in an unhappy marriage and divorce.
Lead author of the study, Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology says, "People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don't have to worry about them. " "We found they are common but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts. Among couples still married after four years, husbands and wives with doubts were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than those without doubts."
The study looked at 464 Los Angeles newlyweds (232 couples) within the first few months of marriage and then continued to follow-up with the participants ever 6-months for the next 4-years. They were each asked, "Were you ever uncertain about getting married?" During the first interview, 47 percent of husbands and 38 percent of the wives said yes. But while fewer women than men were uncertain, that appears to being a better predictor of trouble ahead.
Researchers found that 19 percent of women who admitted having pre-wedding doubts, were divorced four years later, compared with 8 percent of those who didn't report having any doubts. For men, 14 percent of those who reported premarital doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 9 percent who didn't report having doubts.
When neither the man nor woman had doubts about getting married (36%), only 6 percent of the couples were divorced. When only the husband had doubts, 10 percent of the marriages ended in divorce, but when the wife had doubts, 18 percent split up and when both partners had doubts, 20 percent of the couples headed to divorce court.
Doubt was the key factor. It had a far greater impact than whether their parents were divorced, whether they lived together before the wedding or how difficult their engagement was.
Lead author Lavner , "What this tells us, is that when women have doubts before their wedding, these should not be lightly dismissed. Do not assume your doubts will just go away or that love is enough to overpower your concerns. There's no evidence that problems in a marriage just go away and get better. If anything, problems are more likely to escalate."
"You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does; if you're feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that, it's worth exploring what you're nervous about."
But the researchers say they are not telling women who are having doubts to call off the wedding. Co-author Thomas Bradbury says,"Talk about it and try to work through it." "You hope that the big issues have been addressed before the wedding."
Carl Weisman, author of "Serious Doubts About Marriage - why people marry when they know it won't last," suggests there are a lot of people questioning their "I do's." In the book, he walks people through an analysis of their pre-wedding jitters and how to trust their inner voice. The website for the book also offers some links to resources with books, websites and articles like I Called Off My Wedding -- Three Real Stories Reveal Surprising Trend and Desperate Wives - Half have regrets about hubbies. Weisman says, “The seeds of many divorces are sown long before the wedding.”