A Simple Technique to Feel More Love for Your Partner | Psychology Today

2022-09-12 02:14:13 By : Ms. Maggie Yi

The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.

Posted September 9, 2022 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

In marriage, romantic love tends to decline over time, as couples begin to have regrets or make more upward comparisons.

So, might there be simple ways of increasing feelings of love, to save a marriage that is falling apart due to declining passion? Yes, according to a recent study by Langeslag and Surti, to be published in the Journal of Psychophysiology.

The paper suggests something as simple as looking at photos of one’s husband or wife can strengthen love. Specifically, “looking at pictures of the spouse seems an effective way to increase infatuation, attachment, and marital satisfaction.”

Let us review this study.

Twenty-five married individuals (18 women); 24 with an opposite-sex spouse; average age of 34 years old (range of 22 to 57 years). The average duration of the romantic relationship was 10 years (range of 2–38 years), and the mean marriage duration was 7 years.

The sample size was comparable to those used in previous research on love regulation. The authors note that a sensitivity power analysis showed this sample size “yields 80 percent power to detect large effects.”

Participants were asked to provide 50 photos of their romantic partner. These were divided into sets of 25 and presented in the “spouse no regulation” and “spouse regulation” conditions, as described in the next section.

The researchers also selected 25 random neutral photos (e.g., people reading a newspaper or working on a computer) and 50 pleasant pictures (e.g., people smiling or petting an animal), with the latter divided into sets of 25.

These sets were presented in the “pleasant pictures no regulation” and “pleasant pictures regulation” conditions, which are also described in the next section.

Initially, participants responded to questions about their romantic partner and the relationship (e.g., how attached to and infatuated with their spouse they felt).

They then completed the Infatuation and Attachment Scales (evaluating the intensity of infatuation and attachment), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (evaluating marital satisfaction), and the Love Control Questionnaire II (assessing perceptions concerning love regulation). Subsequently, while their electroencephalogram (EEG) was being taken, they completed a regulation task:

“Each trial consisted of a regulation prompt or asterisks...for 5 s, a fixation cross with a jittered duration of 500–700 ms, a picture for 1 s, and a blank screen for 1 s.”

There were five conditions (25 trials each). These, along with examples of relevant prompts, are listed below:

Afterward, participants rated their level of infatuation and attachment to their spouse and their marital satisfaction. Note, “spouse regulation” was compared only to “spouse no regulation,” just as “pleasant pictures regulation” was compared to “pleasant pictures no regulation” conditions.

Analysis of data from the no-regulation conditions indicated participants felt “more infatuated and attached [plus more satisfied with their marriage] after viewing spouse pictures than pleasant or neutral pictures.” And the “increased infatuation, attachment, and marital satisfaction after viewing spouse pictures [were] not due to just increased positive emotions unrelated to the spouse.”

The findings regarding the late positive potential—an event-related potential component measured by EEG—were in agreement with the above conclusions.

Specifically, in the no-regulation conditions, the late positive potential was most positive when people were viewing pictures of their spouse, less for pleasant pictures of strangers, and least positive for neutral pictures.

Since the late positive potential reflects motivated attention to emotional stimuli, the results indicate motivated attention to pictures of the spouse was higher than attention to pleasant and neutral pictures.

The findings reviewed suggest that compared to looking at neutral or pleasant pictures of strangers, looking at pictures of your husband or wife is more likely to increase feelings of love, attachment, and marriage satisfaction.

In other words, looking at photos of your romantic partner can make you feel more attached and in love with them and more satisfied with marriage, and this effect is not caused by elevated positive emotions unrelated to your spouse. If the effect was caused by positive emotions unrelated to the spouse, then the pleasant pictures of strangers would have also improved these outcomes.

In summary, this simple technique of looking at photos of your spouse can increase love feelings and marital satisfaction. This is important because romantic love declines over time in many romantic relationships and marriages—sometimes resulting in divorce, infidelity, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Therefore, increasing infatuation might help keep marriages intact.

How to apply these findings in your own life? Here are a few suggestions:

A friend of mine, for instance, keeps a photo of his spouse (from their very first date) as his phone background. Do whatever works for you and serves as a reminder of the many reasons you love your significant other.

Arash Emamzadeh attended the University of British Columbia in Canada, where he studied genetics and psychology. He has also done graduate work in clinical psychology and neuropsychology in U.S.

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The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.