Scientists Reveal the Surprisingly Simple Task That Could Rekindle 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 dies out.

But, psychologists at the University of Missouriā€“St. Louis in the US has discovered a surprisingly easy way to rekindle the passion, and all it takes is a photo.

A study has found that looking at photos of your partner for a few seconds can increase feelings of infatuation, attachment, and marital satisfaction.

“Looking at photos of spouses is an easy strategy that could be used to stabilize marriages where the main problem is diminishing feelings of love over time,” the authors wrote.

A study has found that looking at photos of your partner for just a few seconds can increase feelings of infatuation, attachment and marital satisfaction (file image)

Level of falling in love (A), attachment (B) and marital satisfaction (C) of the participants when viewing the images and statements.  Viewing images of the spouse produced the highest scores in all categories, and a previous positive statement made no difference.

Level of falling in love (A), attachment (B) and marital satisfaction (C) of the participants when viewing the images and statements. Viewing images of the spouse produced the highest scores in all categories, and a previous positive statement made no difference.

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

A sad, oft-cited statistic is that 42 per cent of marriages in the UK end in divorce, with divorce rates expected to hit a 50-year high this year.

Married couples fall out of love for a myriad 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 could be looking at photos of your spouse, reading positive things about them, or both.

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

The participants first reported on the length of their marriage, as well as the level of infatuation and attachment to their spouse.

Participants were presented with a set of 25 photos, each of which appeared on a computer screen for one second.  Some of these were non-intimate images of your spouse, while others were simply images

Participants were presented with a set of 25 photos, each of which appeared on a computer screen for one second. Some of these were non-intimate images of your spouse, while others were simply “nice” or “neutral” images that did not feature your spouse. Before some of these images were shown, a statement would appear on the screen to help regulate the emotions of the participants.

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During the task, the participants had to use a slider to indicate their level of infatuation and attachment to their spouse, as well as marital satisfaction. In the image: experimental protocol

WHAT DID THE STUDY FIND?

Study participants were presented with a series of photos, some of which featured their spouse, while others were just ‘nice’ or ‘neutral’ images and did not feature their spouse.

Before some of these 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 reported the greatest increases in infatuation, attachment, and marital attachment when looking at images of their spouse, compared to the other types of images.

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

Thus, it was concluded that just having a photo of your partner on your desktop or in your wallet increases your love for them.

They were then presented with a set of 25 photos, each appearing on a computer screen for one second.

Some of these were non-intimate images of your spouse, either alone, with them, or with others, while others were simply ‘nice’ or ‘neutral’ images that did not feature their spouse.

Before some of these images were shown, a statement would appear on the screen to help regulate the emotions of the participants.

For example, before looking at a picture of your spouse, you might read ‘Think of a good personality trait in your spouse’ or ‘Think of something sweet your spouse made’.

Or before seeing a nice generic image, they might read ‘This man is fulfilling his dream of hang gliding’ or ‘This man is celebrating his 100th birthday.’

Neutral images were never preceded by an emotional regulation advisory.

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

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

Using this data, the researchers were able to assess what kinds of images increase one’s love for their partner and whether previous positive statements have an effect.

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LPP was most amplified with the images of the spouses, but only at an intermediate level with the pleasant images and minimally with the neutral images.  However, while the statements increased the LPP with the pleasant images, they had no effect on this voltage when they preceded the spouse images.  Pictured: Average LPP for study participants as they view the images and statements

LPP was most amplified with the images of the spouses, but only at an intermediate level with the pleasant images and minimally with the neutral images. However, while the statements increased the LPP with the pleasant images, they had no effect on this voltage when they preceded the spouse images. Pictured: Average LPP for study participants as they view the images and statements

When not preceded by an emotional regulation statement, participants reported the greatest increases in infatuation, attachment, and marital attachment when looking at images of their spouse, compared to the other types of images.

LPP was also amplified more with the images of the spouses, but only at an intermediate level with the pleasant images and minimally with the neutral images.

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

They also had no effect on self-reported indicators for spouse or pleasant images.

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

The authors wrote: “This study indicates that looking at photos of spouses increases love and marital satisfaction, which is not due to an increase in non-spouse-related positive emotions.

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Reflecting on memories with an ex can improve your current relationship

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

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

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

In the study, the researchers wrote: “Folk nostalgic memories about past relationships remind people of the positivity of romantic relationships.”

‘We found that it led to an increase in the perceived quality of current partnerships. These memories can be triggered by a former lover’s favorite song or movie.

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