60-Second Mind

When the Bride Has Doubt

New research finds that prenuptial doubt predicts marital separation, especially when that doubt comes from the bride. Christie Nicholson reports

Should we worry if we have doubts before saying “I do”? 

Some say it’s normal to feel doubt. But new research suggests that pre-wedding uncertainty actually predicts marital dissatisfaction. Especially when that doubt is coming from the bride.

Scientists surveyed 232 couples within the first three months of marriage and then did follow-up surveys every six months for four years. The average age for the men was 27, for the women, 25.

In the first survey 47 percent of men and only 38 percent of women said they had, at some point, felt uncertain about their upcoming marriage. Four years later, ten percent of couples in which only the guy had doubts wound up divorced. But when only the gal was uncertain, 18 percent of the couples split up. And when both parties had doubts, the divorce rate was only slightly higher at 20 percent. The study is in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Overall, when the bride is uncertain she is two and a half times more likely to be divorced within four years, compared with women who expressed no hesitation before tying the knot. So, at least some of the time, that pre-wedding doubt seems well-founded. 

—Christie Nicholson

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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