IRISH relationship experts have advised bickering couples to eat a snack before confronting each other after a new survey found most partners row on an empty stomach.
Scientists have discovered that couples are more likely to fall out or row aggressively if their blood sugar levels are low. But they say heated arguments and even marital break-ups can be avoided if an angry spouse consumes a sugary snack, such as a slice of cake, before confronting his or her partner.
Chiefs of leading Irish charity Relationships Ireland said they are not surprised by the findings of the US study, which has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
US lead researcher, Dr Brad Bushman, from Ohio State University, said results of his study proved that couples are more likely to fall out if they are "hangry" – a combination of being hungry and angry.
He said: "People can relate to this idea that when they get hungry, they get cranky. We found that being hangry can affect our behaviour in a bad way, even in our most intimate relationships."
Dr Bushman's novel study involved 107 married couples sticking pins into voodoo dolls representing their spouses.
Each husband and wife was allocated a doll and, acting alone, instructed to stick up to 51 pins in it at the end of each day, depending on how angry their spouse had made them.
The experiment, which was repeated over 21 days, also involved participants testing their blood-sugar levels every morning and evening.
The findings showed that lower blood glucose in the evening coincided with more pins being stuck into the voodoo dolls.
Commenting on the results, Dr Bushman said: "When they had lower blood glucose, they felt angrier and took it out on the dolls representing their spouse. Even those who reported they had good relationships with their spouses were more likely to express anger if their blood glucose levels were lower."
Tony Moore, a therapist with Relationships Ireland, said he too had seen plenty of evidence that bickering couples are more likely to become aggressive with each other if they were hungry.