Getting cold feet before your wedding is usually just brushed off as nerves, but new research suggests it might be a really bad sign. When it comes to newlyweds, gut feelings predict future relationship happiness better than self-reported feelings, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
Researchers from Florida State University recruited 135 couples who had been married for less than six months, then surveyed them twice a year for four years. First, they asked the individuals to report on their relationship satisfaction and any problems they were having. Then, they measured their gut-level feelings about their bond by flashing a photo of their spouse on a computer screen, followed by a positive or negative word (like Ã¢â‚¬Å“awesomeÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“terribleÃ¢â‚¬Â). The researchers measured their reaction time as they pressed a button indicating whether the word they saw was positive or negative.
So what does all that button pressing have do with your bond? Previous research has found that our gut-level attitudes make it easier to identify similar gut feelingsÃ¢â‚¬”for instance, when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re already anxious, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re quick to respond to other stressful cues. In this task, if you have good vibes about your spouse, seeing their picture will make you identify the positive words faster. But if you have negative feelings toward them, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be better equipped to identify the negative words quickly.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where it gets interesting: When they followed up with the couples down the line, their self-reported attitudes as newlyweds were totally unrelated to any changes in marital satisfaction. But the people who showed negative or meh gut feelings during the lab test reported the most marital dissatisfaction four years later.
So can a computer task really tell you if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re headed for happily ever after? Who knows for sure. But the research suggests that you should tune in to your gut when it comes to your relationshipsÃ¢â‚¬”that big ball of stress in your belly may be trying to tell you something about your bond.
More from WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Health:
The Crazy Fights Every Couple Has
What Scares Men Most About Wedding Planning
The Crazy Things Facebook Knows About Your Relationships