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Keywords:

  • compatibility;
  • interdependence theory;
  • marital leisure;
  • marital satisfaction

This study challenges the prevailing view that marital companionship promotes marital satisfaction. By following a cohort of married couples for over a decade and by incorporating several methodological improvements—such as refining the measurement of marital satisfaction, determining how much spouses enjoy doing the leisure activities they pursue together and apart, and using diary data to portray marital leisure patterns—we found that the association between companionship and satisfaction is less robust than previously believed, and that it depends on how often spouses pursue activities that reflect their own and their partner's leisure preferences. Over time, involvement in leisure liked by husbands but disliked by wives, whether as a couple or by husbands alone, is both a cause and a consequence of wives' dissatisfaction.