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Boredom Can Doom a Marriage

Study Shows Boredom at Year 7 of Marriage Foreshadows Dissatisfaction at Year 16
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 16, 2009 -- Tension and conflict aren't the only things that affect marital satisfaction in the long term. Simple boredom can also be a relationship killer.

A new study shows that couples who report boredom at year seven of marriage are less likely to be satisfied with their marriages at year 16.

The studied included 123 married couples who applied for wedding licenses in Wayne County, Mich. In their first year of marriage, the average age for the women was 24 and for the men was 26. All were entering their first marriages.

At year seven and year 16, the couples were asked three questions:

  • During the past month, how often did you feel that your marriage was in a rut (or getting into a rut) and that you do the same thing all the time and rarely get to do exciting things together as a couple?
  • All in all, how satisfied are you with your marriage?
  • Participants were shown seven pairs of circles -- overlapping to different degrees -- and asked to choose the picture that best described their marriage.

"Greater boredom in year seven predicted significantly less satisfaction at year 16, "write the researchers. However, "greater satisfaction in year seven did not significantly predict greater boredom in year 16."

Irene Tsapelas from Stony Brook University in New York and colleagues note that their findings suggest excitement promotes closeness, further promoting satisfaction.  

"If partners experience excitement from other sources (such as novel and challenging activities) in a shared context, this shared experience can reignite relationship passion by associating the excitement with the relationship," the researchers write. "If this model applies outside the laboratory, it has significant theoretical and practical implications."

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