Bride’s ‘Cold Feet’ Before Marriage May More Accurately Predict Future Divorce

Cold feet before a wedding is a totally standard, totally understandable part of tying the knot — but it seems that if the bride is the one with doubts about the pending nuptials, the marriage may be far less likely to hit the five-year mark.

A bride’s cold feet, on the surface, may seem to be something a bit more considered than apprehension on the part of a groom, given our society’s gender-related neuroses about marriage. Typically, marriage is portrayed as more of a brass ring for women, and in its most base form, a trap for men — one that can bring happiness or henpecked-ness, depending on the temperaments of the couple.

But how these tropes play out in individual relationships is not entirely clear, and indeed probably quite subjective. However, it really does seem that if a bride is the one having second thoughts, the chance of an eventual divorce increases.

UCLA doctoral student Justin Lavner led a study on pre-marital doubts and what effect, ultimately, they had on a marriage, and research discovered that couples with a skittish bride were far less likely to make it:

“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them … We found they are common but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts.”

Lavner continues:

“Among couples still married after four years, husbands and wives with doubts were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than those without doubts.”

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232 couples participated in the research, and in it, 38 percent of wives expressed apprehension about upcoming nuptials, compared with 47 percent of husbands. 19 percent of women who displayed cold feet were divorced within four years, versus 14% of men. Of those who did not disclose or have doubt, eight percent of women were divorced four years later, versus nine percent of men.