Put a ring on it? Not so fast. New evidence makes the case that uncertainty, or cold feet, before a wedding could be a powerful predictor for whether a marriage lasts or not. UCLA researchers found that brides who have doubts about their impending nuptials are 2.5 times more likely to get a divorce just a few years later. Here, a concise guide to the findings:
What exactly did this study set out to test?
Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral student in psychology, wanted to find out if "cold feet" could serve as a predictor for whether a couple stayed together or not. "People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don't have to worry about them," says Lavner. "We found that [these doubts] are common but non benign." Lavner and his team observed 232 heterosexual couples during the first few months of marriage, and checked in every six months for four years. In the very beginning, they were all asked a simple yes-or-no question: "Were you ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married?"
What did they find?
Plenty of couples expressed having cold feet: In fact, 38 percent of wives-to-be said they were uncertain, compared with 47 percent of future husbands. Among women having doubts, 19 percent were divorced just four years after marriage compared to just 8 percent of women who didn't report any doubts — a whole 2.5 times higher. For men, 14 percent of the doubtful ended up divorcing compared to 9 percent who didn't have any hesitations. For couples in which both reported premarital doubt, 20 percent ended up filing for divorce.
So what do I do if I am having doubts before my wedding?
"Doubts don't mean doom," says John M. Grohol at PsychCentral. Among the things you can do before saying "yes": Talk to your partner to express your insecurities before the wedding; talk to others for an objective point of view; don't ignore any real problems, which go deeper than the stress of planning; and don't allow yourself to feel pressured by the magnitude of the event itself. "Anxiety and doubt are not the same thing," says Grohol. "If you have real doubts about getting married, listen to those doubts and take action."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- The liberation of Barack Obama
- America is building a Sunni army in Iraq to take on the Islamic State
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
Subscribe to the Week