The purpose of this study was to investigate if and how comparative skill levels within marital leisure activities relate to marital satisfaction, and if gender or activity type affects that relationship, and if Flow theory could help explain a potential correlation of these leisure activity contexts. Specifically, this study examined three different comparative skill differences and similarities of couples engaging in leisure activities in three different types of leisure activities as factors in marital leisure satisfaction and ultimately Satisfaction With Married Life (SWML). Their gender and the skill-gender interactions were also included in the analysis. This study followed up on Johnson et al.'s (2006) recommendation for “œmore consideration . . . to be given to the context of the activities themselves and the motivation behind participation” (p. 20). The sample consisted of 657 participating couples regionally reflecting the population and ethnicity across the United States. The Modified Marital Activity Profile (MMAP) was used to measure marital leisure satisfaction. The Satisfaction with Married Life (SWML) scale was included after the MMAP to obtain the overall satisfaction with married life score. The flow experience was measured using items from the Flow State Scale (FSS). A mixed models analysis of co-variance indicated the most common joint leisure activity of both spouses at a similar skill level, and husband is noticeably better than wife, reported significantly higher SWML scores than when the wife is noticeably better than the husband most often. Also, couples who are satisfied with their leisure participation in worse than spouse activities have significantly high SWML scores. Analysis further showed three of the four significant Flow variables had high SWML scores when experiencing Flow, whereas non-athletic activities appeared to be opposite of the other three Flow variables. These relationships were significant even when accounting for the variance explained by demographic variables of gender, age, years married, marriage history, education obtained, ethnicity, and location. Findings support existing family leisure research. This study, however, goes beyond existing research by indicating which comparative skill levels, by gender, and activity types, are positively correlated to SWML. The findings provide implications to couples who are interested in maintaining a healthy marriage, to those considering marriage, scholars, and professionals.



College and Department

Marriott School of Management; Recreation Management



Date Submitted


Document Type





marriage, couple, leisure, comparative skill levels, leisure satisfaction, marital satisfaction