It is well-known keeping the passion alive in a marriage after years together can be a challenge for any couple.
Previous research has revealed that marriage satisfaction declines even when day-to-day behaviours and routines do not change.
But a new study may have developed an unconventional method to help couples maintain their spark – with pictures of cute bunnies and puppies.
Published in Psychological Science, the study focused on changing someone’s thoughts about their spouse as opposed to their actions.
Participants, which included 144 married couples all under the age of 40 and married for less than five years, were repeatedly shown images of their other half paired with positive words or images such as of puppies and bunnies once every three days for six weeks.
While a control group saw images of the partner paired with neutral pictures, such as an image of a button.
Couples were also asked to measure their attitudes towards their partner every two weeks for eight weeks, so researchers could evaluate whether the feelings had changed during the course of the study.
The aim of the report, published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, was to subtly retrain the automatic associations that come to mind when people think about their significant other.
And it seems the theory worked – as participants who were exposed to positive images paired with their partner’s face showed more positive automatic reactions compared with those who saw neutral pairings.
James McNulty of Florida State University said: ”One ultimate source of our feelings about our relationships can be reduced to how we associate our partners with positive affect, and those associations can come from our partners but also from unrelated things, like puppies and bunnies.
“I was actually a little surprised that it worked.
“All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple…