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Publication #FAR3112

Boredom Decreases Marital Satisfaction1

Carol Church2

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Does your quality time with your spouse often consist of sitting on the couch together and watching TV, or going out to the same places with the same people? When was the last time the two of you did something really exciting and new?

Maybe you feel like such experiences are “frills” that you don’t have time for or can’t afford. But according to some researchers, boredom may be an enemy of strong marriages. In one small study, researchers surveyed about 120 married couples, asking them whether they felt they “[did] the same things all the time” and “rarely [got] to do exciting things together” (Tsapelas, Aron, & Orbuch, 2009, p. 543) They also indicated how close they felt to their partners and how satisfied they were in their marriages (Tsapelas, Aron, & Orbuch, 2009).

Nine years later, couples who’d indicated that their lives together were in a rut or low on fun in the first survey were significantly less satisfied than couples who’d said their marriages were higher in excitement. Having fun and doing more interesting things together seemed to increase closeness, which upped relationship satisfaction. Importantly, this connection held true regardless of the level of tension and conflict couples reported. Even when marriages were harmonious, a lack of fun and excitement decreased satisfaction (Tsapelas, Aron, & Orbuch, 2009).

These findings tie into the theory of “self-expansion,” which holds that people tend to be happier when learning and experiencing new things (Tsapelas, Aron, & Orbuch, 2009). Fortunately, every couple should be able to find fun, life-expanding experiences they can do together to help keep their marriage close.

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Tsapelas, I., Aron, A., & Orbuch, T. (2009). Marital boredom now predicts less satisfaction 9 years later. Psychological Science, 20(5), 543-545. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02332.x.



This document is FAR3112 one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date March 14, 2012, as program 1894. Published on EDIS March 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.