Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 16
  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: July 2009

7 - Shared Participation in Self-Expanding Activities: Positive Effects on Experienced Marital Quality

Summary

Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.

—R. I. Fitzhenry

The period when two people first fall in love often seems to be characterized by energized and intense emotions, preoccupation with each other and the relationship, and great optimism. Yet over time, as the partners get to know each other, there is a typical decline in this exhilaration, often even a sense of apathy and boredom, a reduced interest in each other and the relationship, and a less idealized vision of the future. Indeed, a typical decline in love and satisfaction after the initial relationship period is one of the most well-documented findings in the study of marriage in Western cultures (for example, Blood & Wolfe, 1960; Glenn, 1990; Locke & Wallace, 1959; Rollins & Feldman, 1970; Tucker & Aron, 1993).

However, there is considerable variation in the rate of this decline (Tucker & Aron, 1993). One longitudinal study that followed newlyweds for four years found that as many as 10% showed an increase in marital quality over this period (Karney & Bradbury, 1997). In addition, studies of individuals who have been married 30 years or longer have found small but significant numbers who report high levels of passionate love (Traupmann & Hatfield, 1981; Tucker & Aron, 1993), including high scores on Hatfield and Sprecher's (1986) Passionate Love Scale with items such as “I would rather be with ___ than anyone else.”

REFERENCES
Aron, A., & Aron, E. N. (1996). Self and self-expansion in relationships. In G. J. O. Fletcher & J. Fitness (Eds.), Knowledge structures in close relationships: A social psychological approach (pp. 325–344). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Aron, A., & Aron, E. N. (1997). Self-expansion motivation and including other in the self. In W. Ickes (Section Ed.) & S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships (vol. 1, pp. 251–270). London: Wiley
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Norman, C. (2001). Self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in close relationships and beyond. In M. Clark & G. Fletcher (Eds.), Blackwell's handbook of social psychology, vol. 2: Interpersonal processes (pp. 478–501). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Tudor, M., & Nelson, G. (1991). Close relationships as including other in the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 241–253
Aron, A., & Fraley, B. (1999). Relationship closeness as including other in the self: Cognitive underpinnings and measures. Social Cognition, 17, 140–160
Aron, A., Norman, C. C., & Aron, E. N. (1998). The self-expansion model and motivation. Representative Research in Social Psychology, 22, 1–13
Aron, A., Norman, C. C., & Aron, E. N. (2001). The effect of self-expanding activities on relationship quality: Is sharing the activities or cooperation necessary? Manuscript in preparation
Aron, A., Norman, C. C., & Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. (2000). Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 273–284
Aron, A., Paris, M., & Aron, E. N. (1995). Falling in love: Prospective studies of self-concept change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1102–1112
Aronson, E., & Linder, D. (1965). Gain and loss of esteem as determinants of interpersonal attraction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1, 156–171
Berger, C. R. (1988). Uncertainty and information exchange in developing relationships. In S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research and interventions (pp. 367–389). Chichester, England: Wiley
Berlyne, D. E. (1960). Conflict, arousal, and curiosity. New York: McGraw-Hill
Blood, R., & Wolfe, D. W. (1960). Husbands and wives. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press
Carver, C., & Scheier, M. (1990). Principles of self-regulation, action, and emotion. In E. T. Higgins & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior (vol. 2) (pp. 3–52). New York: Guilford
Dutton, D. G., & Aron, A. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 510–517
Foster, C. A., Witcher, B. S., Campbell, W. K., & Green, J. D. (1998). Arousal and attraction: Evidence for automatic and controlled processes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 86–101
Glenn, N. D. (1990). Quantitative research on marital quality in the 1980s: A critical review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 818–831
Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). Measuring passionate love in intimate relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 9, 383–410
Hill, M. S. (1988). Marital stability and spouses' shared time: A multidisciplinary hypothesis. Journal of Family Issues, 9, 427–451
Holman, T. B., & Jacquart, M. (1988). Leisure-activity patterns and marital satisfaction: A further test. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 69–77
Huesmann, L. (1980). Toward a predictive model of romantic behavior. In K. Pope (Ed.), On love and loving (pp. 152–171). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Jacobson, N. S., & Margolin, G. (1979). Marital therapy: Strategies based on social learning and behavior exchange principles. New York: Brunner/Mazel
Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1997). Neuroticism, marital interaction, and the trajectory of marital satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1075–1092
Kilbourne, B. S., Howell, F., & England, P. (1990). A measurement model for subjective marital solidarity: Invariance across time, gender, and life cycle stage. Social Science Research, 19, 62–81
Kingston, P. W., & Nock, S. L. (1987). Time together among dual-earner couples. American Sociological Review, 52, 391–400
Lewandowski, G., & Aron, A. (2001). Shared participation in self-expanding activities and relationship quality: Novelty/challenge versus arousal. Manuscript in preparation
Livingston, K. R. (1980). Love as a process of reducing uncertainty – Cognitive theory. In K. S. Pope et al. (Eds.), On love and loving (pp. 133–151). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Locke, H. J., & Wallace, K. M. (1959). Short marital adjustment and prediction tests: Their reliability and validity. Marriage and Family Living, 21, 251–255
Mashek, D. J., Aron, A., & Boncimino, M. (2001). Confusions of self and close others. Manuscript in preparation
Orden, S. R., & Bradburn, N. M. (1968). Dimensions of marriage happiness. American Journal of Sociology, 73, 715–731
Orthner, D. K. (1975). Leisure activity patterns and marital satisfaction over the marital career. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 37, 91–101
Plutchik, R. (1967). Marriage as dynamic equilibrium: Implications for research. In H. L. Silverman (Ed.), Marital counseling: Psychology, ideology, science (pp. 347–367). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas
Pyszczynski, T. A., Greenberg, J., & Solomon, S. (1997). Why do we need what we need? A terror management perspective on the roots of human social motivation. Psychological Inquiry, 8, 1–20
Reissman, C., Aron, A., & Bergen, M. R. (1993). Shared activities and marital satisfaction: Causal direction and self-expansion versus boredom. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 243–254
Rollins, B., & Feldman, H. (1970). Marriage satisfaction over the family life cycle. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 32, 20–28
Smith, E., Coats, S., & Walling, D. (1999). Overlapping mental representations of self, in-group, and partner: Further response time evidence and a connectionist model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 873–882
Traupmann, J., & Hatfield, E. (1981). Love and its effects on mental and physical health. In J. March, S. Kiesler, R. Fogel, E. Hatfield, & E. Shana (Eds.), Aging: Stability and change in the family (pp. 253–274). New York: Academic
Tucker, P., & Aron, A. (1993). Passionate love and marital satisfaction at key transition points in the family life cycle. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 12, 135–147
White, L. K. (1983). Determinants of spousal interaction: Marital structure or marital happiness. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 511–519