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Doubt about marriage shouldn’t be ignored

By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun –

When women have pre-wedding jitters they shouldn’t ignore them, according to researchers at UCLA.

New research shows that doubts, particularly the woman’s, predicts higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction years later.

“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” said Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study, in a statement.

“We found they are common but not benign,” he said. “You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does; if you’re feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that. It’s worth exploring what you’re nervous about.”

The researchers found that newlywed wives with doubts were two-and-a-half times more likely to get a divorce four year later than those without doubts. Those who stuck it out were less satisfied with their marriages.

The study, perhaps the first scientific one of its kind, was published online in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology. It looked at 464 spouses, surveyed within months of getting married and then every six months for four years.

About 47 percent of husbands and 38 percent of wives were uncertain or hesitant about getting married, though the women’s doubts were more predictive of trouble: 19 percent of women with doubts were divorced four years later vs. 8 percent of those without doubts. Among men, 14 percent with doubts were divorced four years later vs. 9 percent with no doubts.

And doubt was a bigger factor than whether the couple’s parents were divorced, whether the couple lived together before marriage and how difficult their engagement was.

The researchers say they don’t mean to dissuade people from marrying, but they do say couples ought to work out big issues before walking down the aisle.

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