Having marital problems? Then watch a movie with your spouse!
No, seriously, that’s what researchers are saying, not me. Don’t shoot the messenger!
The new study out of University of Rochester suggests that to make it past the three-year itch in your marriage, you and your partner just need to pop in a DVD, watch other couples fight, and then discuss the movie. This simple self-help exercise of watching five relationship-based movies a month, followed by a discussion of the marital issues that crop up in the movie could cut the divorce rate of newlyweds by half at the three-year mark.
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For the study, researchers divided 174 couples into three groups with different therapy approaches – conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and the movie-and-talk method.
In the first group, conflict management, a skill known as ‘active listening,’ was taught to the couples. This method’s objective is to slow down the pace of heated exchanges by making the partners paraphrase what the other says. This is to ensure that the message has been properly understood by both partners.
In the second group, compassion and acceptance training, the couples were made to perform relationship exercises and also sit in on lectures encouraging ‘compassion and empathy.’ This was achieved by asking the couples to think of their partner as a friend and to practice random acts of kindness and affection.
By contrast, the third group of couples, the group that were assigned the movie-and-talk method, were made to watch the 1967 romantic comedy, Two for the Road, after a 10-minute lecture on the importance of relationship awareness. The movie is about married life over a period of 12 years. Following the movie, the couples were asked to discuss the main issues in the problems, like, ‘how did the couple handle arguments?’, and relate those same issues back into their own marriage.
Suggested read: Science says arguing with your partner can make you FAT!
Then, they were given a list of 47 movies and asked to follow the same exercise at home, once a week for a month.
The results were surprising to say the least. Despite it being the least supervised, the movie-and-talk method worked just as well as fostering a healthy relationship. In fact, all three methods used in the study showed that divorce and separation rates were almost halved from 24 percent to 11 percent.
Lead author Ronald Rogge says that this approach to marital discord is unlike regular couples therapy and marriage counseling, and is actually inexpensive, fun, and simple.
Talking about the movie-and-talk approach, Rogge said,
“It’s incredibly portable. There are really great marriage-intervention programs available now but most require trained therapists to administer them. If couples can do this on their own, it makes it so much easier to help them.”
Rogge said that what makes the movie-and-talk method as efficient as other therapies is the fact that it forces the couples to take a ‘cold hard look’ at their own behavior. It’s also ‘less pathologizing and less stigmatizing.’
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Further, Rogge said,
“Taking time to sit down and take an objective look at your relationship with your partner is going to be helpful for any couple at any stage. They can make it a yearly thing they do around their anniversary – watch a movie together and talk about it. That would be a fantastic thing to do and a great present to give themselves each year.”
Finally, he added,
“The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. Thus, you might not need to teach them a whole lot of skills to cut the divorce rate. You might just need to get them to think about how they are currently behaving. And for five movies to give us a benefit over three years – that is awesome.”
So, now that you know how to cut the divorce and separation rates by almost half, just pop in a DVD and get watching movies with your partner.
Featured image source: Flickr