MINNEAPOLIS—According to a study published Thursday in the Journal Of Marriage And Family that assessed factors contributing to lasting and happy relationships, the practice of carving names into public property prolongs the time a couple is together by 30 years or more.
Controlling for race, age, gender, and income, researchers found that partners who had carved their names into park benches, outdoor art installations, city landmarks, and other structures intended for the enjoyment of the general population remained together an average of three decades longer than couples who did not engrave their names into such property.
“While numerous factors play a part in a relationship’s longevity—compatibility of personalities, empathy, and respect, among others—only one criterion all but guaranteed a healthy union that lasted for multiple decades, and that was the use of a knife or other sharp object to carve the pair’s names into wood, concrete, or glass at a public location,” said lead researcher Jans Kingman, who later noted the estimated 9 million happily married couples in the United States whose names are carved into desks at libraries. “We found that these couples not only experience higher levels of sexual satisfaction and intimacy, they also demonstrate an intense devotion to one another and a deep mutual understanding that were not observed in couples whose names were never inscribed into property designated for public use.”
“According to our research, no one who has carved their names into public property has ever once been cheated on,” he added. “These couples stay dedicated to each other no matter what.”
As part of their research, Kingman’s team reportedly conducted a nationwide survey of couples who had been together for 40 years or more, finding that 95 percent of respondents had indelibly marked their names into public spaces in large capital letters. Additionally, the survey found that those partners who had surrounded their names with a large outline of a heart or had included the words “Luv” or “4ever,” described even higher levels of mutual contentment, with these subjects unanimously reporting an intense attraction to their partner that had not wavered since the moment they completed their etching.
However, in romantic relationships where couples had not used a Swiss Army knife, their car keys, or an old pen to scrape their names into rocks along public park trails or into the window of a city bus or subway car, levels of dissatisfaction and, ultimately, dissolutions of partnerships rose dramatically.
“If a couple carves their names into a location of significant cultural or religious value, such as an ancient ruin or a site on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, our data show that they will be together even longer and have an even deeper emotional and physical connection,” said Kingman, explaining that every couple they studied who had carved their names into some portion of a World Heritage Site had died simultaneously in each other’s arms in their 90s after a lifetime of marital bliss. “We found that this phenomenon also applies to the size and visibility of the names themselves. Bigger, deeper, and darker carvings featuring full names are shown to prolong relationships upwards of 50 years longer than the national average, while tinier etchings that are composed of just initials and a ‘plus’ sign extend a relationship by only a decade and a half.”
“The more visible and structurally damaging to the piece of property, the greater the positive effect the carving will have on one’s relationship,” he continued.
According to Kingman, couples who were experiencing rough patches in their relationships were able to rid themselves of all of their interpersonal problems simply by eluding security at a place of public importance and marking the site permanently with a carving consisting of their names and anniversary date.
However, researchers emphasized that couples only receive the positive relationship benefits if their carvings are permanent, noting that those who simply drew their names in the sand at the beach or wrote their names on a door frame in pencil actually experienced 10 fewer months in a happy, committed relationship than the average couple.
“I’ll never forget the moment I knew my husband and I would be together forever: We were at Navajo Point at the Grand Canyon, and when no one was looking, Larry pulled out his pocket knife and scratched our names right into the wall of the Desert View Watchtower,” Cincinnati resident Beverly Hanley, 67, said of her marriage of 44 years. “When I looked at that big heart with ‘LARRY & BEV-BEV’ in the middle and an arrow through it, and I saw it way up high in the center of a beam where everyone would notice it, I knew our love was eternal.”
“Some people say that love fades with time,” Hanley continued, “but the romance and the burning passion between Larry and me is just the same now as it was that very day. Maybe even stronger.”
Researchers added that their findings represent the most significant discovery in the field of social relations since a 2009 study that confirmed fraternity brothers who painted a big rock with their organization’s Greek letters formed unbreakable bonds and were always there for one another in times of need for the rest of their lives.