Looking at pictures of puppies may improve your relationships

(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

You may be able to improve your relationships by looking at pictures that make you go, “Aww.”

A new study found that couples who looked at images of puppies, babies, pizza, and their spouse, were more happily married.

The research is all about association, as you link visions of your spouse with positive images.

“If you’re in a relationship and you have a lot of great experiences with your partner, you learn to associate your partner with those experiences and when you see your partner, you feel good,” says James McNulty, a psychology professor at Florida State University. “The reverse is also true. Tough times with your partner, perhaps because he or she is stressed or frustrated every time you talk to him or her, as military personnel often are, can lead your brain to link your partner to negative things.”

This research was requested by the Department of Defense as it looks for ways to help military personnel who are in stressful situations while being away from their spouses.

One study has shown that the likelihood of divorce among combat veterans is 62% higher than among other men.

“People’s gut level feelings about their partners are very important,” says McNulty. “They color your communications to your spouse. If you generally feel light and sunny about your life partner, your interactions with him or her will reflect that attitude. If you generally feel darker, then you tend to shut down or take offense more easily.”