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If your wedding date is approaching or you’re hoping for an engagement ring this holiday season, you may want to take a quiet moment and ask your “little inside voice” what “it” has to say about your relationship.
According to new research published in the latest issue of the journal Science, the most accurate indicator of a couple’s future wedded bliss had to with their gut instinct about their partner and their relationship and very little to do with how they spoke about him or her.
Study experts at Florida State University watched 135 heterosexual married couples for four consecutive years, beginning at the newlywed phase (being husband and wife for six months or less) and continuing with follow up questions every six months. During one of the experiments, the volunteers were asked to look at a computer screen where a photo of their beloved flashed for one-third of a second, preceded by either a positive descriptor (such as “fantastic”) or a negative one (like “horrible”). Being timed, the wedded participant had to then simply press a button to specify if the word they saw previously had a positive or negative meaning.
One of the study authors explained that their instant or delayed reaction to the word was connected to their “automatic attitude toward the spouse.”
“People who have really positive feelings about their partners are very quick to indicate that words like 'awesome' are positive words and very slow to indicate that words like 'awful' are negative words,” stated James K. McNulty, Associate Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.
The reason: In terms of a split-second “gut” response, it’s difficult to process a pessimistic word when you’ve just looked at someone you have loving feelings for. And vice versa.
Over the course of the four-year study, experts discovered that those who had “issues” with the word test (meaning they super-quickly and accurately identified the negative adjectives and had a delayed reaction to the positive words) were the ones who gave their marriage a not-so-high score.
While this study focused on already-married couples, I have a few divorced friends who now claim that as they walked down the aisle, the only thought going through their head was, "Oh boy...we’ll see how long this lasts!” Did they have these thoughts about their relationship before the wedding march began? Maybe. Would listening to their instincts have saved them from years of heartache? I believe so.
The term “wedding day jitters” has been around for years. We can be nervous for all sort of reasons -- concerned if the flowers, the limo driver and the hair stylist will arrive on time, worried about a family brawl during the reception, anxious about something dreadful Mother Nature may have in store on the morning of your big day. But like with every big decision in life, it’s best to find some solitude, close your eyes and seek the true meaning behind your jitters.