The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Having 'Cold Feet' Makes Divorce More Likely

Pre-wedding jitters might be a sign of trouble ahead, one study finds.

By Kristin Wong Sep 6, 2012 3:12PM

Photo: OMG/Getty ImagesA whopping two-thirds of grooms and brides-to-be have doubts before they walk down the aisle. Experiencing cold feet is nothing new, but if you're having second thoughts about your wedding, it may be more than just jitters, according to new research.

Researcher Thomas Bradbury led a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, which found that people who have doubts about their upcoming nuptials are more likely to end up divorced. Warning: This news is likely to make cold feet even chillier.

Bradbury and his researchers surveyed 464 recently married spouses (232 couples). The couples were asked if they experienced "cold feet" before their marriage.  Forty-seven percent of husbands did, compared with 38 percent of wives.

Researchers then followed up with the couples every six months for four years. They surveyed them periodically to find out how satisfied they were in their marriages, if they were still married at all.

After four years, 12 percent of the couples were divorced. Of the women who had reported having cold feet, 19 percent of their marriages ended in divorce by their fourth anniversary. Only 8 percent of wives who didn't report cold feet ended up getting divorced.

For men, 14 percent of cold-feeters were divorced, compared to 9 percent of those who didn't have pre-wedding jitters.

Related video: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship

In their paper, Do Cold Feet Warn of Trouble Ahead? Premarital Uncertainty and Four-Year Marital Outcomes, the researchers write:

"Taken together, the results indicate that premarital doubts are not simply an instance of feeling anxious before a major event or something to be worked through, but a sign of possible trouble ahead."

And, apparently, it's more of a trend for women than men:

"This appeared to be less true for men, consistent with our prediction that women’s greater attunement toward relationship problems would render their doubts more diagnostic."

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson, who writes for the Chicago Tribune, talked to NPR about the nervousness some couples experience before they tie the knot. Her advice:

"Listen to your doubts—postpone if you need to."

And while Bradbury's study doesn't appear to bode well for the hesitantly betrothed, Dickinson says it's possible to work through those jitters, process them and still walk down the aisle if you do end up feeling ready to do so.

"Discuss your doubts [with your partner], and really spend a lot of time before your marriage talking about marriage, reading about marriage."

And her final bit of advice for couples with cold feet:

"All I can say as a twice married woman is, you know when you know."

Photo: OMG/Getty Images

More love and sex on MSN Living:

8 Ways to Spot His Lie
11 Breakup Lessons We've Learned From Romantic Comedies
30 Diamond Engagement Rings So Sparkly You'll Need Sunglasses

love: friendships, dating, sex & marriage

  • Sign placement/"10 Most Outrageous Wedding Photos"/Photo: Brooke Aliceon Photography

    10 outrageous wedding photos

    The typical wedding: A white dress, tiered cake, floral centerpieces and a cute flower girl -- you know the drill. Every once in a while, though, a couple trades in tradition for a quirky, never-seen-that-before idea. Here are a few of the most out-there wedding photos that made us do a double take.

  • Hot wedding trends for fall

    9 hot wedding trends for fall

    There's a lot to love about weddings this fall, like cocktails served in copper Moscow mule mugs, industrial-inspired lighting and pheasant feather details. See what's new!

  • Monique Pean Mineraux diamond and rose gold ring, $3,400; barneys.com

    Why single ladies are rocking a wedding ring

    Do you have to be engaged to sport a ring with bling?

  • ​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images //  ​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images (​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images)

    Majority of Americans are single

    124.6 million haven't gotten hitched.

  • least expensive places to get married

    These are the 25 least expensive places to get married in America

    Even though the national average wedding is $29,858, that’s just an average. If you live in a smaller state like Idaho where the average wedding costs $16,159, you may find yourself saving a little more than half of the national spend! Check out some of the other least expensive cities to get married in below:

  • M Swiet Productions, Getty Images // M Swiet Productions, Getty Images (M Swiet Productions, Getty Images)

    Americans have nostalgia for summer romance

    Summer is winding down, but the ubiquitous summer romance lives on.

  • 8 signs it's time to break up

    8 signs it’s definitely time to break up

    For those times when nothing big and horrible happened--but nothing is feeling right either.

  • Actor/"Why we love an older man"/Photo: Shutterstock

    Reasons why we love an older man

    He’s confident, distinguished and anywhere from 4 to 20 years older than you. Age is just a number, but there’s something about older men that we love. Here are eight reasons why being in a relationship with an older man is tops.

  • Actor/"Why we love a younger man"/Photo: Shutterstock

    Reasons why we love a younger man

    While a younger man may have less life experience, that doesn’t mean he’s not emotionally mature. Here are the eight reasons why being in a relationship with a younger man is tops.

  • Other woman (Courtesy YourTango)

    5 reasons the other woman slept with your man

    Have you ever wondered what the 'other woman' was thinking?

  • Apple picking

    6 fun fall date ideas

    So fall is coming and you need some romantic inspiration now that long walks on the beach are out of the question. Well look no further! From apple picking to pumpkin carving, these are some great fall date ideas from girls just like you!

  • Go to a theme park

    8 cute celeb date ideas

    Getting bored of the same dinner and movie date night? Take an adorable cue from your favorite celebs and try something new! From dancing to boxing you can't go wrong with these awesome date ideas.

buzzing now on msn living
The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner
relationship videos
editor's picks
the heart beat