Getting married may be one of the biggest decisions of your life, but if you come down with a case of pre-vow jitters, or cold feet, or your gut tells you to say "I don't," you should run, claims an annoying new study from the journal Science.
Florida State University researchers had just 135 heterosexual couples married less than six months fill out a questionnaire about marital satisfaction. Although many of their conscious responses were optimistic, participants' "automatic attitude," or gut reaction, toward their partner weren't always as warm and fuzzy ...
Researchers gauged these gut instincts by flashing photos of the spouse followed by adjectives like "awesome," "terrific," or "awful." Then, participants had to respond via keyboard whether the word was negative or positive. As it turned out, couples’ reported marital happiness tended to match their knee-jerk reactions. The upshot: Our gut feelings about our partner may be enough to warrant leaving them at the altar ... Ugh. Not buying it!
For one thing, other studies have shown the first year of marriage is the hardest, because it's the post-wedding hangover period. Isn't it possible that could have been clouding these married participants' reactions to their spouses' photos? Second, advice like, "Go with your gut!" and make a rash, impulsive decision that doesn't account for the whole, BIG picture is in part to blame for our ridiculously high rates of divorce ... (Which, by the way, is one reason I wouldn't blame ANYONE for questioning marriage in general or worrying about their own specifically.)
We need to be thinking deeper about "I do." We need to acknowledge that it is a major commitment, and yes, that's scary, so it is okay to be nervous, to have cold feet, to feel like our partners are "awful" on occasion. No matter how much you care for one another, real life and marriage never resemble the rosy ending to a rom com.
And yet, movies, "reality" TV, and research like this send a message that if you're the least bit unhappy or unsure or struggling with the commitment at all, for whatever reason (even if it has nothing to do with the person you're marrying and more to do with your past, your family, divorce odds, or your identity!), then sorry, it isn't meant to be! But that's insane. Because, sure, there's something to listening to your intuition, but let's not discount that what your heart and your head have to say is just as, if not more, important.
What was your gut reaction about your mate before marrying them/within the first year of marriage? Do you think it matched up to your future happiness (or lack thereof)?
Image via jedimentat/Flickr