Gut Feelings Might Be Best Predictors of Marital Bliss
Study found newlyweds' semi-conscious attitudes determined future bliss more than conscious thoughts
Why might that be? If the relationship has problems, the person is probably going to be less positive in their gut reactions, McNulty said. If their gut is warning them about problems, he said, it is important to address them before they affect the conscious attitude toward the relationship.
It's not as simple as having couples take a test before making a big commitment, McNulty said. He said the gut feelings tend to be telling on a group level, but not true in every case. "Some had a lukewarm automatic attitude, but remained happy," he said.
Currently, there's not a good diagnostic test that people can take to figure out their gut feelings toward their partner, he said.
"[However], people should try to trust their gut," McNulty said. "I'm not saying that if people have ambivalence, [they shouldn't] get married. At that point, it makes sense to talk to a therapist." The negative gut feelings may be pointing to problems that can be worked out, he said.
Danielle Adinolfi, a marriage and family therapist in Philadelphia, said this research backed up what therapists already knew. "Your gut feeling is a survival instinct -- it's something we are born with," she said. "If you are getting a gut feeling, that is to be trusted."
In her clinical experience, Adinolfi said, she has often had couples who split up tell her they somehow knew it wouldn't work out.
Gut feelings about a relationship need to be talked about immediately to try to solve the issues, she said. "Most people do realize they have them," she said. "But many people ignore them or make excuses for them."
A therapist who specializes in couples counseling could assess these gut feelings or unconscious attitudes about a relationship, she said.