There’s lots of evidence that many couples experience some pre-marital jitters before tying the knot. However, there’s some new research that suggests couples who have serious jitters are more likely to get divorced. Does this mean couples who get cold feet shouldn’t follow through with the wedding?
What Research Shows
The Journal of Family Psychology released a study that was led by Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral student in psychology, who studied whether or not cold feet before marriage seemed to predict divorce. The study states that wives who reported having some doubts about getting married were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce within four years when compared to wives who did not have doubts. Among the couples who were still married after four years, both husbands and wives reported less marital satisfaction compared to couples who did not have pre-marital doubts.
Among couples who reported not having any doubts about getting married, only 6% of them got within four years. However, when both partners reported doubts about their union prior to marriage, 20% got divorced.
What Can We Learn from This Study?
Obviously not everyone who has doubts about getting married gets divorced. However, it is important to address your fears and doubts before you walk down the aisle. Resolve issues before you make a life-long commitment as the stress of having kids, working, and paying bills together.
If you have doubts, talk to your partner. Many people don’t want to admit to their soon-to-be spouse that they aren’t certain about taking the plunge. However, it’s possible that your partner may also have some of the same concerns. It’s also likely that if you talk about them, you may be able to work through the issues.
Ask questions, solve problems, and work together to address your concerns. Don’t feel the need to pretend you don’t have them. Start out the relationship with honesty and acknowledge your jitters.
People sometimes try to ignore or bury their cold feet because of the upcoming wedding. Some people may chalk it up to normal pre-wedding jitters. Others may notice that they have more concerns than they probably should but follow through with the wedding anyway.
Sometimes people are too embarrassed to cancel the wedding once they’ve invited guests. They may feel obligated to follow through with the ceremony once it’s paid for and may worry more about what would happen if they called the wedding off. So despite some concerns about the marriage, they follow through with the wedding.
At other times, people are so caught up with planning the wedding that they forget to plan for the marriage. The excitement of creating a guest list, finding a wedding venue and shopping for the dress may keep the jitters at bay for a while.
Keep in mind the wedding is just a one day event. A marriage is supposed to be for the rest of your life. At the very least, postpone the wedding until you have addressed your concerns adequately.
Pre-marital counseling can make a big difference as well. Meeting with a counselor can help you learn skills to deal with your differences and can help you live together more peacefully. Also, a trained professional can assist you with determining your compatibility and identifying any red flags that need to be addressed.
What If you are Already Married?
If you had pre-wedding jitters and you got married, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean you are doomed or destined for divorce. Instead, it means there may have been some concerns that need to be addressed.
Hopefully you have addressed those concerns and worked through any problems you may have had. It’s also possible that you were just nervous about getting married in general but that you don’t have any long-lasting marital problems.
Remember, that marriage isn’t an exact science. There’s an art to it as well. There are lots of research studies that discuss what predicts divorce, what leads to a happy marriage, and what contributes to long-term success. However, people aren’t just statistics.
Many marriages defy the odds. Research just looks at what happens with most marriages. Your individual relationship may not fit the mold. Perhaps you’ve figured out how to overcome the odds or you’ve worked through many of the issues that other couples haven’t.
Whether you had pre-wedding jitters or not it’s important to work hard to keep your marriage strong. Your hard work and desire to make your marriage successful is likely to be the best predictor of marital success.