Four in 10 divorced Brits admit they had doubts before they walked down the aisle, with over half (52 per cent) considering pulling out at the last minute, new research has found.
Instead of enjoying their big day, one in 5 (21 per cent) was nervous about the future, with one in 10 (10 per cent) feeling physically sick.
But despite this, optimism about the future won out and they went ahead with the marriage. Almost no one (4 per cent) confronted the issue and discussed what would happen if the relationship ended. Six in 10 (60 per cent) said they don’t regret their marriage despite it not working out.
While most bride and grooms spend the period before their wedding drafting table plans, picking out flowers and selecting caterers, one in five (20 per cent) divorced Brits were struggling with pre-wedding jitters.
The most common reasons people went through with the ceremony despite their doubts were they hoped it would just work out (48 per cent), they thought it was too late to pull out (33 per cent), they felt pressure from their family to go through with it (16 per cent) or they couldn’t do it to their partner (16 per cent).
One in seven (14 per cent) said they thought they would be able to get their partner to change for the better once they had exchanged vows and 13 per cent felt too guilty.
The research, which polled over 1,600 divorced Brits, was commissioned by family law specialists Slater and Gordon who have found that clients coming to them for advice on getting divorced often regret not listening to their gut before they became Mr and Mrs.
In spite of their concerns seven per cent of divorcees admitted they had spent so much money on the big day they didn’t feel they could cancel it no matter how worried they were that the relationship would fail.
One in 10 (10 per cent) said they walked down the aisle because they felt they should as they had children together, while eight per cent believed that being married would fix their problems.
Amanda McAlister, head of family law at Slater and Gordon said: “It is entirely natural to be nervous on your wedding day and many people who are have very happy, lifelong marriages.
“But we also have some clients who say they had an early instinct their marriage might not be successful and now regret not listening to that doubt.
“I would advise anyone considering marriage to think carefully, not only about long term compatibility, but also about protecting any children involved and their assets.
“We tell clients to be realistic and have those difficult conversations about concerns and worries with their partner as early as possible. It’s much harder to resolve living arrangements after a relationship has completely broken down if there has been no conversation about worst case scenarios in advance.
“Ending a marriage is a sad and difficult decision to make but it’s often made worse because people are left with the uncertainty of what will happen to their assets.
“It’s important to also be clear about what your expectations are of marriage and your partner in advance of exchanging vows.”
A quarter (24 per cent) said they had discussed their fears that the marriage wouldn’t work in advance of the ceremony, with both men and women most likely to confide in a close friend or their mum.
Many divorced Brits admitted they did not think it would be a big deal to end their marriage shortly after their wedding with nearly half (47 per cent) saying they believed a quickie divorce would be easy to arrange.
Nearly one in 20 (4 per cent) wrongly thought they could have their marriage annulled, while one in 10 (10 per cent) said they mistakenly assumed a divorce would not be necessary if they broke up with their partner within six months of the wedding.
Forty per cent of those surveyed said that looking back they regretted their decision to go through with the marriage with nearly a third (31 per cent) admitting that when they did decide to split from their partner their friends and family were not surprised.
The research also showed that couples who had been in a relationship for a shorter period of time before they got married were most likely to have had reservations before the big day.
Two in five (40 per cent) said they had no idea their spouse would have a claim on their assets if the union lasted for less than a year.
Amanda McAlister, head of family law at Slater and Gordon said: “Getting divorced is not a simple process, even if the marriage hasn’t lasted very long.
“People should understand there is time, effort and cost involved when it comes to launching divorce proceedings or drawing up a separation agreement.
“Also, couples must wait until they have been married for a year before they can divorce.
“This came to light recently in the much publicised case of former model Jodie Kidd’s eight month marriage to David Blakely. The couple began to wind up their union by a decree of judicial separation. These decrees are very rare, but can be issued before the first anniversary of a marriage.
“At the end of the process, a couple remains married, but the court proceedings enable them to deal with financial issues and arrangements for children.
“If there are any doubts about the marriage I would advise people to think very carefully before they walk down the aisle as it will be much harder to separate yourself once you are married.
“There are a range of steps couples can take to protect themselves ahead of marriage. A prenup, although not legally binding in England and Wales, can be hard to challenge if properly drawn up and can help to take away any confusion about how assets should be divided in the sad event that a marriage ends.
“As soon as you get married you open yourself up to a financial claim from your spouse.”
Top ten reasons doubting Brits walked down the aisle
- Just hoped it would work out
- Felt it was too late to pull out
- Thought doubts were just nerves or “jitters”
- Didn’t want to split up
- Felt pressure from family
- Couldn't do it to their partner
- Thought their spouse would change once they were married
- Felt too guilty to stop the wedding
- They had children and felt they should get married
- Too embarrassed to end the engagement