While having cold feet prior to a wedding is thought to be normal, new findings show that doubts often foreshadow divorce.
“Premarital doubts are meaningful, and something to pay attention to,” says Justin Lavner of UC Los Angeles.
Lavner and his colleagues surveyed more than 450 newlyweds and then followed up every six months for four years. The team found that uncertainty—especially among women—predicts divorce rates.
Women who had doubts before their wedding were more than twice as likely to divorce. More men said they felt misgivings, but they were less likely to get divorced years after a bout of cold feet.
“We controlled for parents’ divorce rate, whether the couple lived together before marriage, as well as personality characteristics like neuroticism,” says Lavner. Doubt and uncertainty proved to be the decisive factor.
The findings appeared last fall in the Journal of Family Psychology and suggest that couples should approach commitment on their own terms. For some couples, this may mean opting out of marriage altogether.
Marriage improves the odds of surviving colon cancer and heart surgery, and married couples report happier lives, but studies rarely compare the benefits of wedlock to cohabitation. New research shows that non-married couples can enjoy many of the same psychological and health benefits.
Researchers at Cornell followed nearly 3,000 men and women over the course of six years as they married or moved in with a partner. Both marriage and cohabitation resulted in a spike of well being. When compared to married couples, cohabitants experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family, and suggest there is no rush to tie the knot—especially if one or both partners feel doubtful.