Countless pictures of cute puppies have been filling my Instagram feed this spring and summer. More than one of my much younger and newly wed friends have expanded their families by adopting fur babies before a human baby enters their lives.
They might be on to something, as about the same time that I liked an absolutely darling photo of a black-and-white mutt snuggled into a fluffy down comforter, I spotted a news release about how cute photos of puppies positively impact marriage.
The correlation between puppies and happy marriages came from none other than the Department of Defense, which commissioned researchers from Florida State University to help the marriages of military personnel deployed in stressful situations and separated from their spouses; the likelihood of divorce among first marriages involving a male combat veteran may be as much as 62 percent greater than divorce among first marriages involving a male civilian, according to a study from Brigham Young University in 2003.
The Florida State team set out to study gut feelings about one’s spouse, with the belief that these most basic feelings color the way we communicate with our spouses. If your so-called glass is half full, your interactions will be more positive. If your attitude is that the glass is half empty, you are more likely to shut down communication, and your ego bruises more easily.
Over the six-week study, 144 couples viewed photo streams every three days. Participants who saw photos of their spouses alongside happy photos — like those of puppies or delicious food — reported increasingly positive feelings about their marriages.
It’s the same reason that carmakers put models next to their new wares at an auto show, and why we have a favorite pair of pants, researchers explained. If every time you wear the pants you also have a fun experience or someone asks if you’ve lost weight while you were wearing those pants, you’d love the pants. (Heck, I’d buy said pants in every color available.)
Researchers have requested more funding to determine how long this marital halo effect lasts and if the results are amplified when the positive photos are curated for individual tastes.
I’ll admit that puppies are cute, but puppies are not all peaches and rosebuds. What about the puppy that unzipped a couch cushion and spread the stuffing across the living room while you were out? Or the puppy that grabbed a knife off the kitchen counter and ran circles around the leather couch? Or the dogs that ate crayons, the box of Godiva goodies and the stale bread meant for stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey?
(These are all real stories posted to my social media pages, and the owners have assured me that neither the dogs nor parts of the leather sofa were harmed by these shenanigans.)
These dog owners might be better served by pictures of delicious food and Disney movies alongside their spouses; pina coladas and getting caught in the rain; or raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Whatever.
Scan Google Images with caution, folks.
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