LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — If a woman has doubts before her wedding, her misgivings can be a warning sign of trouble ahead, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Justin Lavner, a doctoral candidate in psychology, and Thomas Bradbury, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said pre-wedding uncertainty — especially among women — predicted higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction years later.
The psychologists studied 464 newlywed spouses — 232 couples — in Los Angeles within the first few months of marriage and conducted follow-up surveys with them every six months for four years.
On their wedding day, the average age of the husbands was 27, and the average age of the wives was 25.
At their initial interview, the study recipients were asked, “Were you ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married?” Forty-seven percent of husbands and 38 percent of wives said yes. Yet while women were less likely than men to have doubts, their doubts were more meaningful in predicting trouble down the road, Lavner said.
The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found among women,19 percent of those who reported pre-wedding doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 8 percent of those who did not report having doubts. For husbands, 14 percent who reported premarital doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 9 percent who did not report having doubts, the study found.
“What this tells us,” Lavner said, “is that when women have doubts before their wedding, these should not be lightly dismissed. Do not assume your doubts will just go away or that love is enough to overpower your concerns. There’s no evidence that problems in a marriage just go away and get better. If anything, problems are more likely to escalate.”