If there were ever an excuse to get your hubby to watch a romantic movie with you, dare I say "The Notebook," this is it! Who knew sitting in front of the TV could prevent divorce?
A new study has shown that watching romantic movies with your partner can be just as effective in reducing divorce rates as other types of popular couples therapy.
Research from the University of Rochester found that newlyweds and engaged couples who watched and discussed 5 romantic movies in a month cut the three-year divorce rate in half. These results were just as effective when compared with more traditional therapeutic approaches (conflict management & compassion and acceptance training). All three methods reduced the separation/divorce rate from 24% to 11%.
Is it really that simple? Could this fun thing for couples to do together really help to save their marriage?
I’m not suggesting that a couple on the brink of separation negate couples therapy for a movie marathon to save their ailing marriage. But, I do believe this could be a great activity for maintaining relationship satisfaction over the years.
In the study, once a week for a month, couples watched a movie together and discussed it afterwards for 45 minutes using a list of questions. The questions asked participants to reflect on their own relationship, similar to the types of questions I may ask in a couples therapy session. Here are some sample questions taken from the study:
- Did this couple strive to understand each other? Did they tend to accept one another, even if they were very different? Or did the couple tend to attack each others’ differences? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?
- Did the couple have a strong friendship with each other? Were they able to support each other through bad moods, stressful days, and hard times? Did they listen to each other like good friends? Did the couple in the movie do considerate or affectionate things for each other? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?
- If the couple got into arguments, did they tend to become heated? Did the couple ever start attacking each other, getting increasingly mean and hostile? Did they end up saying things they didn’t really mean? Once this started happening, how did the arguments tend to end? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?
Watching a movie together is a fun, relaxing approach to working on your relationship. This approach can strengthen and boost your connection to your partner. Talking about characters in a movie can be an easy, non-defensive way to approach a conversation about your own relationship. If you've been arguing a lot, then this is definitely a new and fun thing for you to do together as a couple to explore feelings. Plus, there’s something validating about watching other people go through similar struggles. Believe me, you’re not alone!
Whether you’re watching movies or meeting with a counselor, it’s all about investing in your relationship, and yourself. There’s a good chance you’re already aware of how your actions affect your partner. Now it’s about reducing harmful behaviors and increasing the helpful ones. It’s not about pointing fingers at who is right and wrong, but being self-aware and taking responsibility for your role in the situation or argument.
Interested in the movie approach? Try it at home--you can find a list of suggested movies and discussion questions here:
Looking for more fun things for couples to do together? Contact Samantha, Boston's Love Expert, for personalized feedback and suggestions