Feeling bored in marriage leads to substantially less marital satisfaction even nine years later, says a new study conducted by Stony Brook University researchers.
Research leaders Irene Tsapelas and Arthur Aron, who worked in collaboration with University of Michigan researcher Terri Orbuch, interviewed 123 U.S. married couples seven years into their marriage, and then again, nine years later, 16 years into their marriage.
The researchers revealed that, as part of the Year 7 interview, they asked the couples: "During the past month, how often did you feel that your marriage was in a rut (or getting into a rut), that you do the same thing all the time and rarely get to do exciting things together as a couple?"
The team observed that people who reported being bored with their marriages at Year 7 experienced a greater decrease in satisfaction at Year 16.
According to the researchers, people who were not bored at Year 7 experienced a typically small decrease in satisfaction at Year 16.
The study also revealed that lower satisfaction at Year 7 did not lead to increased boredom over the next nine years.
The researchers claim that theirs is the first study to provide direct evidence of a significant long-term negative effect of marital boredom.
Another major finding of the study was that being bored reduces closeness, which in turn reduces satisfaction.
"It is not enough for couples to be free of problems and conflicts. The take-home message of this research is that to maintain high levels of marital quality over time, couples also need to make their lives together exciting," says Aron.
Previous studies by Aron have suggested that couples can make marriage better by doing new or challenging things on a regular basis.
In the current study, the researchers have found that the effect can last for years.
Based on the research team's observations, Aron recommends that married couples have a date night, every week, in which they do something together that they have never or rarely done before, something that is not just enjoyable, but in some way exciting.
The study has been published in the journal Psychological Science.