Second Thoughts About Getting Married? Study Says to Go with Your Instincts
If you had second thoughts about getting married, there may be a good reason. UCLA psychologists report that when women have doubts before their wedding, their misgivings are often a warning sign of trouble if they go ahead with the marriage.
The UCLA study demonstrates that pre-wedding uncertainty, especially among women, predicts higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction years later.
"People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don't have to worry about them," said Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study. "We found they are common but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts. Among couples still married after four years, husbands and wives with doubts were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than those without doubts.
"You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does; if you're feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that," he added. "It's worth exploring what you're nervous about."
The psychologists studied 464 newlywed spouses (232 couples) in Los Angeles within the first few months of marriage and conducted follow-up surveys with the couples every six months for four years. At the time of marriage, the average age of the husbands was 27, and the average age of the wives was 25. The research is published in the online version of the Journal of Family Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, and will appear in an upcoming print edition.
A recent PEW analysis of U.S. Census information says that the institution of marriage is undergoing some changes. “Today, barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7),” said the analysis.
In 1960, 72 percent of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51 percent are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.
The Pew Research analysis also finds that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that may or may not be related to the sour economy.
Many other industrial countries are experiencing the same trend. The declines have occurred among all age groups, but are most dramatic among young adults. Today, just 20 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59 percent in 1960. Over the course of the past 50 years, the median age at first marriage has risen by about six years for both men and women.
Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, according to a Pew Research survey in 2010. Yet the same survey found that most people who have never married (61 percent) would like to do so someday.
Here are some tips on how to have a successful marriage:
Watch Your Relationships. To preserve your determination to make your marriage succeed, don’t flirt with members of the opposite sex. If you do, in the back of your mind, you might begin to view them as alternatives in the event that your marriage doesn’t work out. This will weaken your resolve. After all, why work so hard when you have an escape route? Also, these types of close relationships are likely to make your spouse feel threatened.
Pay Full Attention. Listen to your spouse when he or she talks to you. It’s a sign of respect. Try to give him or her undivided attention. Also, nod in agreement occasionally—it tells your partner you’re listening. If your spouse talks to you when you’re in the middle of something important, say so, and suggest a time when you’ll be able to pay full attention.
Share Enjoyable Activities. Do fun things with your spouse. Exercise together, take leisurely walks, or share a pursuit that’s mutually enjoyable. Such activities strengthen your relationship and make it easier for the two of you to endure the hard times that come in every marriage.
Don’t Keep Score. Don’t walk around with a watchful eye making sure your partner carries his or her share of the workload. Instead, take the view that it doesn’t matter if you end up doing more than half of what has to be done. Making sure your relationship stays fifty-fifty will put so much tension into your marriage that it’s not worth the effort. So unless your spouse is very lazy or a real responsibility shirker, don’t keep track of who does more.
You can read the rest rest of the tips at advancedlifeskills.com.
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