CBS Local – We all love taking a relaxing, worry-free look at some cute animals, but could these gazes at cuddly pets actually be beneficial in the long-term?

Not only is that the case, but they could even help make a marriage last longer, according to a study from Florida State University.

The researchers found that “evaluative conditioning” can help save a struggling marriage. The conditioning that comes from pairing positive pictures, like cute animals, with your spouse, can be an unorthodox patch for marriage problems.

“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,” said James McNulty, lead author of the study.

One hundred and forty-four married couples were participants in the study and they looked at cute pictures once every three days for six weeks and were surveyed about their marriages every two weeks. The responses showed a positive response after the experiment begun.

“I was actually a little surprised that it worked,” McNulty said. “All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple and unrelated to marriage could affect how people feel about their marriage, made me skeptical.”