They went ahead with doomed marriages because of guilt, family pressure and the cost and embarrassment of pulling out.

London - Women who have doubts about getting married should not ignore them – as those with misgivings about walking down the aisle are more likely to get divorced, according to a university report.

In the first scientific study to test whether doubts about getting married are more likely to lead to an unhappy marriage and divorce, psychologists report that their misgivings are often a warning sign if they go ahead with the marriage.

The University of California, Los Angeles, study demonstrates that pre-wedding uncertainty, especially among women, predicts higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction years later.

Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study, said: “People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them.

“We found they are common, but not benign. Newly-wed 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.

“You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else; if you’re nervous about it, pay attention to that. It’s worth exploring what you’re nervous about.”

The psychologists studied 464 newly-wed spouses in Los Angeles within the first few months of marriage and conducted follow-up surveys every six months for four years. At the time of marriage, the average age of the husbands was 27, and of the wives 25. The research was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

When asked, “Were you ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married?” at their initial interview, 47 percent of husbands and 38 percent of wives said yes.

Yet while women were less likely than men to have doubts, their doubts were more meaningful in predicting trouble after the wedding, the researchers found.

Among women, 19 percent of those who reported pre-wedding doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 8 percent of those who did not have doubts.

For husbands, 14 percent who reported premarital doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 9 percent who did not report having doubts. Doubt was a decisive factor, regardless of how satisfied the spouses were with their relationships, whether their parents were divorced, or whether the couple lived together before the wedding and how difficult their engagement was.

In 36 percent of couples, the husband and wife had no doubts about getting married. Of those couples, 6 percent got divorced within four years. When only the husband had doubts, 10 percent of the couples got divorced.

When only the wife had doubts, 18 percent of couples got divorced. When both partners had doubts, 20 percent of the couples got divorced.

“What this tells us,” Lavner said, “is that when women have doubts before their wedding, these should not be lightly dismissed.”

But the psychologists say they are not advising women with doubts to necessarily end the relationship.

“Talk about it and try to work through it.” – Daily Mail