Pre-wedding nerves are nothing to worry about, we are told. They are natural and a completely understandable reaction to the months of planning and the life-changing event about to happen. Now though, a new study suggests they might not be as innocuous as we are led to believe.
The UCLA study suggests that women who have pre-wedding worries about the future are 2.5 times more likely to divorce within four years. It appears that this trait is significantly more pronounced in women. Intuition? So if they have concerns before the big day, they are likely to be more deep seated and point to a more serious underlying problem.
Those who had doubts but are still together after four years are said to be “significantly less satisfied” with their marriage. "You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does; if you're feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that," said the lead author of the study. Good advice.
Jangling nerves on a wedding day are almost as audible as church bells and that does not mean a marriage is doomed to failure. Has the cake arrived? Will I look OK in my suit/dress? Will the guests get on? How will the photos come out? Will it be a bad hair day? These are the things that make us nervous. That is only natural.
However, a deep-seated unease or serious case of cold feet (more than just a fleeting chill) could signal a bigger problem and that should be explored. Now, I am not advocating jilting a partner at the altar on a wedding day if you suddenly fear things are not going to work out. The reality is this will not be a new feeling if there really is a problem. It will have been around for a long time and just come to the surface on the big day because there is nowhere else to hide it. In my experience, this is often the root cause behind many short-lived marriages. It is not that something has significantly changed in a short space of time but that the couple were not compatible in the first place. They then went through with the marriage because they felt duty-bound to or didn’t know how to say something.
Luckily there is a lot of support out there for people who want to talk through issues. You don’t have to be married to have an appointment with Relate for instance, or other relationship counsellors. And (I won’t say this very often) but friends and family can be a great sounding board if you are worried – though you may have to filter out the obvious bias they are going to show you over a partner with whom their main connection is you.