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Psychology researchers at UCLA conducted a four year study to determine whether cold feet before a wedding could predict divorce. Their answer: yes and no. It turns out that women’s doubts before a wedding may signal trouble ahead for the marriage, while men’s doubts do not correlate with significantly higher divorce rates.

 cold feet IMAGEThe study divided marriages into four groups: marriages in which neither spouse had doubts, marriages in which the men had doubts, marriages in which the women had doubts, and marriages in which both the men and the women had doubts. The first group contained 36 percent of marriages, with neither side having doubts. In this group, the divorce rate was only six percent. Among the group of marriages with only male doubts, that number rose to 10 percent, an increase that the study’s authors say is too small to have significance. Conversely, marriages involving women with cold feet ended in divorce three times as often as those where neither side had any doubts; 18 percent reported divorce by the four-year mark. And, in cases where both sides had doubt, the number increases slightly to a 20 percent divorce rate, only a small difference from the women-only pool of marriages. The researchers attribute these differences to the fact that women are often more attuned to the dynamics of the relationship. Consequently, they do not get cold feet as much as men do, but when they do, they tend to be better at noticing real causes for concern.

In addition to looking at divorce rates, the researchers also examined the satisfaction of people with their marriages, and how that satisfaction related to doubts they had beforehand. Their research found that both men’s and women’s doubts impacted this area, leading to a lower level of marital satisfaction for those who experienced doubt.

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