A new study suggests brides should not ignore those pre-wedding day jitters.
Women who have doubts right before their nuptials are more likely to have an unhappy marriage and end up in divorce court, according to the report in the Journal of Family Psychology.
“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” said Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study. “We found they are common but not benign. 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.”
The UCLA psychologists studied 232 newlywed couples living in the Los Angeles area. The researchers then checked in with the couples every six months for four years to conduct follow-up surveys.
The average age of the husbands studied was 27, while the wives were 25.
In their first interview, the newlyweds were asked, “Were you ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married?” Forty seven percent of the guys said “yes,” while 38 percent of their wives answered in the affirmative.
The psychologists found that, while the ladies had fewer misgivings than their spouses, the doubts they did express were much more telling in predicting trouble after the wedding.
In 36 percent of cases, both husband and wife had no doubts about getting married.
Yet 19 percent of the women who did express pre-wedding doubts ended up divorced four years later, as compared with 8 percent of those who didn’t have doubts.
Among the guys, the 14 percent who said they had premarital uncertainties were in divorce court four years.
By comparison, 9 percent of the men who didn’t have doubts ended up divorced.
One in 10 couples got divorced when only the husband had reservations about getting married. That statistic almost doubles, to 18 percent, when the wife alone had doubts.
But when both spouses expressed doubts about entering into the bonds of matrimony, 20 percent of the couples got divorced.
In fact, doubt proved to be a critical indicator of whether the marriage would succeed, more so than factors such as how satisfied the married couples were with their relationships, whether their parents were divorced, if the couple had lived together before the wedding or had a troubled engagement.
While the psychologists aren’t suggesting doubters should call off their weddings, they do advise couples to sit down and discuss concerns before going any further in the relationship.
“Talk about it and try to work through it,” said Thomas Bradbury, a UCLA psychology professor and co-author of the study. “You hope that the big issues have been addressed before the wedding.”