A team of U.S. researchers has concluded that problems don’t hurt a marriage, but dullness — being in a rut — does.
Irene Tsapelas and Arthur Aron of Stony Brook University and University of Michigan researcher Terri Orbuch interviewed a representative U.S. sample of 123 married couples seven years into their marriage, and then interviewed them again nine years later, 16 years into their marriage.
As part of the interview taking part in the seventh year of marriage couples were asked,
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 study, published in the journal Psychological Science, said the key finding was that those who were bored with their marriage at year seven experienced a greater decrease in satisfaction at year 16. Those who were not bored at year seven experienced a typically small decrease in satisfaction at year 16.
Most marital research has focused on eliminating problems, but some studies indicate that a larger problem faced by many long-term couples is simple boredom and lack of excitement, Aron said.
The study said being bored reduces closeness, which in turn causes reduced satisfaction.