By Margarita Nahapetyan
According to the researchers from the Stony brook University, USA, problems do not hurt a marriage to that extent as do dullness and feeling bored, which can lead, in turn, to significantly less marital satisfaction, even seven years later.
A new study's lead investigators, Irene Tsapelas and Arthur Aron, who carried out their research in collaboration with Terri Orbuch, an expert at University of Michigan, recruited more than 100 U.S. married couples and interviewed them 7 years into their marriage, and then did the same thing again, 9 years later, sixteen years into their marital union. As part of the interview that took part in the 7th year of marriage, all the couples were asked one question: "During the previous month, how often did you have a feeling that your marriage was in a rut, or was getting into a rut, that you do the same routine things all the time and rarely get to do exciting things together as a couple?"
The experts found out that individuals who reported being bored and experienced dullness in their marriages at year seven, had a greater decrease in marital satisfaction at year sixteen. According to the investigators, those couples who were not bored after 7 years of living together, experienced a typically small decrease in marital satisfaction after 16 years of relationship. The study also discovered that lower satisfaction seven years after getting married did not result in an increased boredom and dullness for the next nine years.
The researchers say that their study is the first one to provide direct evidence of a significant long-term negative effect of marital dullness. Another important finding that was revealed in the study was that when couples felt bored in a relationship, they experienced less closeness with each other, which, in turn, resulted in less overall satisfaction. Most studies on this matter have been concentrating on eliminating problems, but some findings indicated that a larger problem faced by many long-term couples is simple boredom and lack of excitement, Arthur Aron said. "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," he noted. His previous studies have suggested that couples could make their marriage work better by doing new or challenging things on a regular basis.
In the current study, the experts have discovered that the effect of doing exciting things together can last for years. Based on their new observations, they recommend that married couples go out for a night date on a weekly basis, in which they better 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 latest issue of the journal Psychological Science.