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Point And Predict


I met a wedding photographer who contends that she can predict which couples are and aren't going to make it. (She's talking about couples in their early 20s getting married for the first time.)

It's her belief that, if the man is nervous and the woman is calm, the marriage is a go. If, however, the woman is nervous and the man is calm, it means something's wrong. She suggests that, "because the man traditionally bears the weight in the marriage" (as breadwinner, keeping the family together, etc.), if he isn't nervous, it means he doesn't grasp the commitment he's making.

As somebody who doesn't believe in marriage, I don't get invited to many weddings -- but for those who've gone to a you, and does your experience, agree with her?

(Wedding dress store pictured is Suzanne Ermann, Paris -- I think, on rue de Tournon, 6ème.)

Posted by aalkon at January 8, 2006 10:02 AM

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I've been to three weddings in the past year, and participated in two of them as a groomsman. In all three, the man was calm and the woman was nervous, and two of them are already heading into divorce. I don't agree on your friend's reasoning (neither case of pending divorce was due to issues with money, but rather with the realization on the part of the new wives that the husbands they had married were going to stay the way they were before they were married), but I have to say that her evaluation seems to be holding true.

Posted by: Brian at January 8, 2006 1:30 AM

I've only been to one wedding which ended in divorce, but it was prety obvious that it was doomed. It wasn't the nervousness, but the lack of respect.

Posted by: Shivering Timbers at January 8, 2006 6:34 AM

My wife was nervous when we got married, but it was more about how she looked and whether everything would go off without a hitch (we planned most of the wedding on our own).

I guess if somebody rushes into marriage, I could see them having last second doubts, but we lived together for over 3 years before taking the next step. If you live with someone for that long, you should pretty much know what you're getting into by then.

In short, I think there's lots of reasons either a bride or a groom could be nervous other than the problems your friend set forth. I don't think her reasoning holds very true.

Posted by: Jason Ginsburg at January 8, 2006 6:47 AM

She was not a friend but a woman I talked to at Starbucks. Unlike many Starbucks customers, I actually speak to people sitting next to me who look or sound interesting -- as opposed to shouting into a phone to people ten miles away, "Yeah, I'm at Starbucks!" Arrrrgh.

Anyway, I don't agree with her reasoning either, but I thought I'd put it out there. I do think many people have a fairy-tale idea of what marriage is, and take it far too lightly, and end up marrying people they are incompatible with.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 8, 2006 7:47 AM

I think that you have to ask her if she has actually made such decisions and noted those down, then followed the marriages to see what happened. Since around 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway did she consider that? Does she consider what staying married meant?

My guess is that nervousness can be a result of many issues, as well as calm. My father once calmed a nervous groom with a class of wine. Maybe the calm ones are simply into the sauce??? :-))))

Posted by: Rodger Schuester at January 8, 2006 9:21 AM

Interesting observation. Having done a number of weddings and observing them, only now do I wish I had kept score based on this observation.

I am sure there are exceptions but her observations are astute. Some additional brief thoughts and observations are posted in my article, Marriage: Predications on if it will last.

Posted by: Mark Vernik at January 8, 2006 9:31 AM

Getting married is like being a human sacrifice. We were both nervous, and then dazed and confused, and then shell-shocked. And that was 22 years ago--for years after I had a recurring nightmare that the wedding didn't "take" and we had to do it again. Why any one wants to renew the vows is beyond me.

I've worked with a number of videographers/photographers and wedding consultants who all claim some mystic knowledge of how well the marriage will turn out. An inexact science, I'd say.

Posted by: KateCoe at January 8, 2006 9:32 AM

I saw Pride and Prejudice last night. Both Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy were most endearing when they showed their nervousness in approaching the women they would marry. I'd say that the photographer's observation, like that of Jane Austen, carries some truth.

Posted by: Charlotte at January 8, 2006 11:38 AM

I have been married twice and divorced twice, so my opinion about marriage has about much weight and veracity if the drunken captain of the Exxon Valdez taught a course on marine navigation.

Posted by: George at January 8, 2006 2:06 PM

Jason - your logic seems to make perfect sense to me. However, I've seen numerous statistics to the effect that couples who live together before getting married are actually MORE likely to divorce. I don't understand why, but it seems pretty consistent.

Posted by: LYT at January 8, 2006 2:29 PM

LYT, maybe it's that people who are more likely to get divorced are also more likely to cohabitate? It's not necessarily a cause/effect relationship. Just a theory.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 8, 2006 5:16 PM

I agree with Pirate Jo, the correlation between cohabitation and divorce is not necessarily a cause and effect. I've always thought it was because couples who don't cohabitate are often more religious and therefore more likely to stay in an unhappy marriage because they think God wants them to.

I'm not sure if I believe the prediction techiques because the pressure on men isn't greater, as it was in generations past. I have to think, if either the bride or groom is calm, then it's because he/she believes in the fairy tale of "happily ever after," which means the relationship is ultimately doomed once the delusion has been shattered. But then, do people who know that "happily ever after" doesn't exist in reality even get married in the first place? Hmmm.....

Both of the last two weddings I went to have already ended in divorce. I don't remember either the brides or grooms being obviously nervous, at least not more than expected.

Posted by: Bear at January 8, 2006 10:46 PM

I don't think either my husband or I were really nervous the day we got married. As we pulled up to the venue I got a little freaked because I knew everybody was going to be gawking at me, but otherwise... We had also been together for seven years already at that point and have now been married for six.

Posted by: Sheila at January 9, 2006 11:24 AM

This has to be quick because it's Friday night and my husband is taking me out on a date.

We lived together for a year before we got married and we deliberately had a teeny tiny wedding because we didn't want to be nervous! We're both introverts and not happy with lots of hoopla. Still, standing in front of the mayor, I was a little nervous but mostly very happy; he was also a little nervous but steadfast. We were both relieved when the wedding was over and we could go back to our little house and be ourselves again. It could be that it's just the wedding production number with a cast of thousands and thousands of bucks down the drain that makes people nervous.
P.S. We've been married 6 1/2 years and the love is still growing.

Posted by: Harris Pilton at January 13, 2006 2:52 PM

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