Choosing a Mate? Trust Your Gut…Trust Me!

By Shlomo Maital   

trust your gut  

   Few personal decisions rival in importance our choice of a mate.  And few decisions are as random.   At an age when hormones rage, we date a few times and then pick a mate, hoping for the best.  If it doesn’t work out too well, we try again.

    What do we know about this process that can possibly help young people make better mating decisions?  With divorce rates very high in most countries, this is definitely a problem.

   Now comes research by a team from UCLA, showing what I’ve believed for a long time (and written about before in this blog).  *   Listen to your gut!   When choosing a mate, listen to your intuition, your inner voice,  If it tells you, No!,  tell your hormones to sit down and shut up. 

       Justin Lavner and colleagues asked 464 recently married spouses whether “they had ever been uncertain about getting married”  and then compared 4-year divorce rates and marital satisfaction trajectories among those partners with and without premarital doubts.  Doubts were reported by at least one partner in two thirds of couples.  Women with premarital doubts had significantly higher 4-year divorce rates, even when controlling for many or all other factors.  Among intact couples, “doubts predicted less satisfied marital trajectories”.  They conclude: “Valid [in your gut] precursors of marital distress are evident during couples’ engagement”.

     In all decisions, not just choosing a mate, we should try to listen carefully to our inner voices.  When our hormones are jamming the airwaves with urgent ‘yes’ messages, it’s often tough to hear that whispered intuitive ‘no’.   It works both ways.  A whispered ‘yes’ may be hard to hear, too.   Let’s treat our guts as more than a place where food is processed.  Let’s try to listen. 

* Justin A. Lavner, Benjamin R. karney and Thomas N. Bradbury.   “Do Cold Feet Warn of Trouble Ahead? Premarital Uncertainty and Four-year Marital Outcomes”.  Journal of Family Psychology, 26 (6), 2012, 1012-1017.