Do you feel like you may be on the verge of losing that loving feeling for your spouse? Want to boost and restore those feelings of love, passion and relationship satisfaction? The answer, according to a new study, could be as simple as looking at pictures of your spouse on a regular basis.
The new study by Langeslag and Surti, to be published in the Journal of Psychophysiology, suggests that, as romantic love and passion tend to decline over time (for example in a long-term marriage), something as simple as looking at visual representations of your spouse could strengthen love.
“This study indicates that looking at spouse pictures increases love and marital satisfaction, which is not due to increased positive emotions unrelated to the spouse,” the study’s abstract states. “Looking at spouse pictures is an easy strategy that could be used to stabilize marriages in which the main problem is the decline of love feelings over time.”
Can it really be that simple? Can, as the study suggests, “[v]iewing spouse pictures [increase] infatuation, attachment and marital satisfaction compared to viewing pleasant or neutral pictures in the no regulation condition”?
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What did the study look at?
So how did researchers come up with their findings about the connection between looking at pictures of your spouse and positive feelings?
As outlined in Psychology Today, the relatively small study (the study’s sample included 25 married individuals, 24 with an opposite-sex spouse, and an average age of 34 years old) asked participants to provide 50 photos of their romantic partner. The images were divided into sets of 25 and presented in the “spouse no regulation” and “spouse regulation” conditions. Researchers also chose 25 random neutral photos (such as someone reading a newspaper) and 50 pleasant pictures (such as someone petting an animal), with the latter divided into sets of 25.
Then, the sets were presented in the conditions of “pleasant pictures no regulation” and “pleasant pictures regulation.”
Participants were asked to answer questions about their romantic partner and relationship, and then completed scales evaluating the intensity of infatuation and attachment, evaluating marital satisfaction and assessing perceptions concerning love regulation.
Then, while the participants’ electroencephalogram (EEG) was being taken to measure brain activity, participants did a regulation task under five conditions. For example, they may have been prompted to reflect on something positive about their spouse under the “spouse regulation” condition, or prompted to reflect on a pleasant picture (for example, to make a positive interpretation of a photo of a woman playing tennis).
Looking at pictures of your spouse may boost your loving feelings for them
After all the tasks were completed, participants were then asked to rate their level of attachment and infatuation with their spouse, as well as their marital satisfaction. The data from the no-regulation conditions showed that participants felt “more infatuated and attached [plus more satisfied with their marriage] after viewing spouse pictures than pleasant or neutral pictures.”
Put simply, looking at pictures of your spouse — compared to looking at happy pictures of strangers or neutral pictures — has the potential to boost your feelings of love, attachment and satisfaction in your relationship.
While, as previously mentioned, this was a small study, it can’t hurt to give this a try if you’re feeling a bit distant from your long-term partner. A couple of quick and easy ways to test this out could include:
- Make your phone background and/or your computer background and screensaver pictures of your romantic partner (go for a picture of them at a happy and special time, like at a birthday party or a wedding photo).
- Frame pictures of your spouse and put them at your desk, so you see them all day at work.
However you do it, keep looking with love at pictures of your partner — and you just may feel the boost in love, too.