Should I get married?

Sarah Abell invites you to try a 30-day experiment to improve your love life

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Should I get married?

The project

Does the idea of marriage send you into a panic or cold sweat? If so, listen to your doubts. Psychologists at UCLA found that pre-wedding uncertainty, especially among women, predicts higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction*.

The aim

If you are having doubts about your relationship, don’t ignore them. When women have cold feet, their doubts are often an accurate warning sign of trouble ahead if they get married.

The theory

The psychologists studied 464 newlywed spouses within the first few months of marriage, then followed up with them every six months for four years. When asked, ‘Were you ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married?’ at their initial interview, 47 per cent of husbands and 38 per cent of wives said ‘yes’.

While the women were less likely to have pre-wedding doubts, researchers discovered that those who did were more likely to predict trouble after the wedding. Those who had doubts were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than those who didn’t. And those couples who remained married, but who’d had initial doubts, were significantly less satisfied with their relationship than those who felt more confident before marriage.

Justin Lavner, one of the report’s authors, warns women not to dismiss any doubts, ‘There’s no evidence that problems in a marriage just go away. If anything, the problems are more likely to escalate.’

Now try it out

Reflect on your doubts to identify your concerns. If you can’t talk these through with your partner, seek out a trusted friend, coach or therapist. In The Marriage Book (Alpha, £8.99), Nicky and Sila Lee suggest asking yourself these seven questions:

  • Do I want to share the rest of my life with this person?
  • Does our love give me energy and strength, or does it drain me?
  • Do I respect this person?
  • Do I accept this person as they are?
  • Are we able to admit our mistakes, apologise and forgive?
  • Do we have interests in common as a foundation for friendship?
  • Have we weathered a variety of situations together?

They also suggest you:

  • Sign up for a marriage preparation course.
  • Don’t just slide into marriage. Say ‘yes’ wholeheartedly. If you can’t, maybe ‘no’ is the best answer for you both in the long run.

Sarah Abell is a coach who helps people live, love and lead more authentically. Find out more at nakedhedgehogs.com. To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.

*Lavner, Karney and Bradbury, ’Do cold feet warn of trouble ahead? Premarital uncertainty and four-year marital outcomes’, Journal of Family Psychology, 2012

Photograph: Istock

More inspiration:

Read If you can tick yes to this list, then it's true love on LifeLabs

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