From “babe” to “sweetheart”, it’s quite the norm to hear lovebirds call each other various terms of endearment without thinking much of it.

A recent study has, however, found that there may be more to how partners refer to each other in conversation, and it’s got to do with how “in love” they may be.

In 30 University of California studies led by psychologist Megan Robbins that analysed over 5 000 participants who were in relationships, researchers found that the health of a relationship and how happy couples are could be correlated to their use of “we-talk”. This refers to first-person plural pronouns such as “we”, “us” and “our”.

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Looking at the relationships – half of which were marriages – the study took into account length, mental and physical health of partners, how they behaved in their relationships and how they practiced self-care. We-talk was found to be beneficial in all these areas, resulting in happier couples.

According to Science Daily, “we-talk” is an indicator of interdependence, meaning partners affect one another’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This is a shift from self-oriented to relationship-oriented.”

So which comes first – happier couples that use we-talk or we-talk leading to happier couples? Robbins says: “Hearing yourself or a partner say these words could shift individuals’ ways of thinking to be more interdependent, which could lead to a healthier relationship.”