“Cold feet” before wedding could spell trouble, especially for women

Lia Grainger
Shine On

According to a recent study in the Journal of Family Psychology, getting cold feet before your wedding is not an urban myth, but an actual phenomenon that affects about two thirds of couples about to walk down the aisle.

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Researchers at the University of California surveyed 464 newlywed individuals — 232 couples — about whether or not they had doubts or "cold feet" before they tied the knot, reports Jezebel. They found that 47 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women had had doubts pre-wedding, with about two thirds of all couples having at least one doubtful spouse. They then checked in with the couples every six months for four years to see if marital bliss or souring romance ensued.

The results? It turns out ladies should trust their instincts. Men, not so much.

As the Huffington Post reports, only 8 per cent of the wives who reported no doubts ended up divorced, while 19 per cent of the women who reported doubts were divorced four years later. Those numbers were not as significant for men — 9 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.

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So what does this mean? Are women simply more attuned to impending doom than men? Or is it that men get cold feet regardless of whether the relationship is amazing or doomed? Are these just terrible gender stereotypes?

"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," wrote the researchers. "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."

Perhaps this is evidence that the ladies do know something the fellas do not.

"Women tend to be more intuitive," says Toronto marriage counsellor and psychotherapist Beth Mares. "I don't think men have cold feet more often, but they are more inclined to sweep their feelings under the rug." Mares says that anxieties can be destructive to a relationship, and that premarital counselling should be done before the invitations are written and the hall is rented.  "I've seen a number of marriages in distress, where an individual felt they wanted to call it off beforehand but that everything was arranged and it was too late."

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The lesson? Pay close attention to those pre-wedding jitters — they could be indicative of stormy seas ahead.