Study examines connection between divorce and cold feet on wedding day

One of the comedic staples of both television and film is a bride or groom with cold feet. Frequently, we see characters in these situations nervously debating their decision just as the ceremony is about to begin or discussing their fears with a friend the night before the wedding. While this certainly makes for good entertainment, a recent study suggests that there may be more to wedding day jitters than just a few laughs.

According to a recently published study by researchers at UCLA, those women who entertained some sort of doubt prior to their marriage were actually two-and-a-half times more likely to be divorced four years later than their counterparts who entertained no such doubts.

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that those couples who remained married after four years — despite initial reservations on the part of either the husband or wife — reported considerably lower levels of marital satisfaction than those who had no doubts.

“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” said Justin Lavner, one of the primary authors of the study. “We found they are common but not benign.”

Interestingly, the researchers arrived at this conclusion by examining approximately 232 newly married couples every six months for four years.

The first interview revealed that 47 percent of husbands had some reservations about walking down the aisle, while 38 percent of wives also had some reservations.

However, 19 percent of these women who reported doubts about marriage during the first interview were divorced four years later, as opposed to only 14 percent of men who reported these same feelings of doubt during the first interview.

It should be noted that after four years, only 8 percent of women who reported no doubts during the first interview were divorced, while only 9 percent of men who reported no doubts during the first interview were divorced.

Does this mean that anyone who experiences some reservations about marriage is highly likely to divorce their spouse?

According to the researchers, the answer is no. However, they still recommend that couples set aside time to discuss their issues/fears prior to the wedding.

“[D]on’t ignore your doubts …,” said Thomas Bradbury, co-director of UCLA’s Relationship Institute. “Have a conversation and see how it goes. Do you think the doubts will go away when you have a mortgage and two kids? Don’t count on that.”

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about dissolution of marriage or other divorce-related issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or financial advice.


NBC News, “Woman’s pre-wedding jitters linked to higher divorce rates,” Sept. 14, 2012