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Scientists reveal the surprisingly simple task that can reignite the spark in your relationship

Scientists reveal the surprisingly simple task that can reignite the spark in your relationship

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When you’ve been with someone for many years, it’s all too easy to let life get in the way and the spark die.

But psychologists from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the US have found a surprisingly easy way to rekindle the passion, and all you need is a photo.

A study found that looking at pictures of your partner for just a few seconds can increase feelings of attraction, affection and marital satisfaction.

“Viewing photos of spouses is a simple strategy that can be used to stabilize marriages in which the main problem is a decline in romantic feelings over time,” the authors write.

A study found that looking at pictures of your partner for just a few seconds can boost feelings of attraction, affection and marital satisfaction (stock image)

Participants' level of infatuation (A), attachment (B), and marital satisfaction (C) while viewing the photos and statements.  Viewing images of the spouse led to the highest levels in all categories and prior positive statement was irrelevant

Participants’ level of infatuation (A), attachment (B), and marital satisfaction (C) while viewing the photos and statements. Viewing images of the spouse led to the highest levels in all categories and prior positive statement was irrelevant

There’s nothing quite like the butterflies you feel at the beginning of a new relationship, but keeping them alive over the years isn’t always easy.

A sad, oft-quoted statistic is that 42 percent of UK marriages end in divorce, and this year the divorce rate is expected to hit a 50-year high.

Married couples fall out of love for a number of reasons, the most common reason being “unreasonable behavior” in 2021

However, the researchers wanted to see if there was an easy way to help couples in long-term or long-distance relationships rekindle the spark.

This can be done by looking at pictures of their spouse, reading positive things about them, or both.

For the study, published in Journal of Psychophysiologythey recruited 25 married people who had known their partners for an average of 11.9 years.

Participants first reported information about the length of their marriage, as well as their level of attraction and attachment to their spouse.

Participants were presented with a set of 25 pictures, each of which appeared on a computer screen for one second.  Some of these were not intimate images of their spouse, while others were simply

Participants were presented with a set of 25 pictures, each of which appeared on a computer screen for one second. Some of these were not intimate images of their spouse, while others were simply “pleasant” or “neutral” images that did not include their spouse. Before some of these images were shown, a statement appeared on the screen to help regulate the participant’s emotions. During the task, participants had to use a slider to indicate their level of attraction and attachment to their spouse, as well as marital satisfaction. Pictured: Experimental protocol

WHAT DID THE STUDY FIND?

Study participants were presented with a series of photos—some of which featured their significant other, while others were plain “pleasant” or “neutral” images and does not include their spouse.

Before some of them were shown, a statement appeared on the screen to help the participant feel positive about the upcoming image.

When not preceded by a statement, participants self-reported the greatest increases in infatuation, attachment, and marital attachment while viewing images of their spouse compared to the other image types.

Positive statements had no effect on these self-reported measures for either spouse or pleasant images.

Therefore, it was concluded that just having a photo of your partner on your desk or in your wallet increases your love for him.

They were then presented with a set of 25 pictures, each of which appeared on the computer screen for one second.

Some of them were not intimate images of their husband – either alone, with them or with others – while others were simply “pleasant” or “neutral” images that do not include their spouse.

Before some of these images were shown, a statement appeared on the screen to help regulate the participant’s emotions.

For example, before looking at a picture of their spouse, they might read, “Think of a good personality trait about your spouse,” or “Think of something cute your spouse did.”

Or before they see a generally pleasant image, they might read “This man is living his dream of hang gliding” or “This man is celebrating his 100th birthday.”

Neutral pictures were never preceded by an emotional regulation prompt.

During the task, participants had to use a slider to indicate their level of attraction and attachment to their spouse, as well as marital satisfaction.

They also had their late positive potential (LPP)—a voltage of electrical brain activity that indicates emotional arousal—recorded using electroencephalography.

Using this data, the researchers were able to assess what kind of imagery increased love for the partner and whether prior positive affirmations had an effect.

LPP was enhanced most by the spouse pictures, but only to a moderate level with the pleasant pictures and minimally with the neutral pictures.  However, while the statements increased LPP with the pleasant pictures, they had no effect on this tension when they preceded the spouse images.  Pictured: Mean LPP for study participants while viewing the pictures and statements

LPP was enhanced most by the spouse pictures, but only to a moderate level with the pleasant pictures and minimally with the neutral pictures. However, while the statements increased LPP with the pleasant pictures, they had no effect on this tension when they preceded the spouse images. Pictured: Mean LPP for study participants while viewing the pictures and statements

When not preceded by an emotion regulation statement, participants self-reported the greatest increases in infatuation, attachment, and marital attachment while viewing images of their spouse compared to the other image types.

LPP was also enhanced most by the spouse pictures, but only to a moderate level with the pleasant pictures and minimally with the neutral pictures.

However, while the statements increased LPP with the pleasant pictures, they had no effect on this tension when they preceded the spouse images.

They also had no effect on self-reported measures of either spouse or pleasant images.

Therefore, it was concluded that just having a picture of your partner on your desk or in your wallet increases your love for them, at least in the short term.

The authors write, “This study shows that viewing photos of spouses increases love and marital satisfaction that is not due to increased positive emotions unrelated to the spouse.”

Reflecting on memories with an ex can improve your current relationship

Experts say that thinking about good times with an ex can make you happier with your current partner.

Psychologists at the University of Kansas asked volunteers to reflect on nostalgic memories with a former flame.

This subsequently made them think more positively about their current relationship as it made them realize how much they have grown since then.

In the study, the researchers wrote, “Pleasant nostalgic memories of past relationships remind people of the positivity of romantic relationships.

“We found that this leads to an increase in the perceived quality of current partnerships. These memories can be triggered by an ex-lover’s favorite song or movie.

Read more here


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