Plenty of engagements hit the skids when one or both halves of a couple get cold feet. But there are also plenty of marriages that happen even when one or both partners have major doubts about the solidity or longevity of their union. Sure, cold feet can often be chalked up to nerves about the wedding day, but pre-wedding jitters often warn of marital troubles ahead.
A study conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Family Psychology interviewed newlyweds in their first marriages, asking whether they had “ever been uncertain or hesitant about getting married” after getting engaged. After this initial information gathering, the researchers followed up with the couples every six months for the first four years of their marriages.
Turns out, premarital doubts did predict divorce rates four years later, especially when the doubtful partner was the wife.
Brides with Doubts
Premarital uncertainty was common in this study. In two-thirds of couples, one or both partners had doubts, more common among men (47 percent) than women (38 percent). And the doubts did indeed predict marital outcomes 48 months later. When wives had the jitters, 19 percent of couples were divorced within four years. When wives were not unsure, only 8 percent of couples ended up divorced.
Surprisingly, among the couples who didn’t divorce, the doubts of both parties predicted less satisfying marriages. So some couples are simply staying together even though they’re miserable? It would seem so. And as painful as divorce can be, just sticking it out in a marriage because you said you would certainly isn’t a recipe for happiness. Lower marital satisfaction among men and women with doubts could have been avoided – if they’d listened to the warning signs before walking down the aisle.
Run, Run, Run Away?
The idea of a runaway bride isn’t such a silly conceit. Though it may cause plenty of difficulty in the present moment, turning tail and sprinting the other way down the aisle can help couples avoid divorce in the future. Divorce isn’t an easy road, but neither is marriage, and neither should be taken lightly.
While this study does show that cold feet can be an indicator of divorce, it doesn’t mean that’s the inevitability for every couple who pauses for a moment before saying their vows. A feeling of cold feet also doesn’t mean that couples need to break up before marrying, but the worries certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Doubts are a sign that something is off – so take the time to have some conversations with your spouse-to-be. Ask the tough questions of each other, dig deep into the same old arguments you always have to see if they’re surmountable.
If you can’t examine your relationship or address lingering doubts on your own, it’s perfectly fine to seek out professional help. Couples therapy works before, during, and after divorce. But, ideally, you won’t have to get to the divorce part because you’ll have found a way to be married happily, or have agreed to go your separate ways.
Marriage isn’t a romantic comedy. And happily ever after isn’t a guarantee. If you are at the end of your marriage, contact Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your no-cost initial interview and get the divorce advice and help you need.