Study: Talking About Movies Can Improve Your Marriage

Are you struggling in your marriage? According to psychologists, the solution may be a simple movie night. A new study released this week from the University of Rochester claims that newlywed divorce rates can be cut in half for couples who watch a movie together and then talk about it. The catch: that movie has to cover complex marriage problems.

The researchers divided newlywed couples into three groups, all of whom practiced different couples-therapy techniques. One group was trained in the traditional marriage-therapy technique of "conflict and problem resolution," in which one person paraphrases the arguments of the other to make sure they are communicating effectively. The second group learned "skills in acceptance, support, and empathy," which encouraged the couples to work together to find similarities and, well, compassion. The third group was assigned a list of movies to watch, one per week for a month. They then answered questions about the movies individually.

To the surprise of everyone, particularly the researchers, all three methods worked equally well, cutting the three-year divorce rate for the newlyweds from 24 percent to just 11 percent. As it turns out, couples may not need joint therapy to work through their problems. It seems that all it takes to improve a marriage is simple awareness of potential relationship problems, even if those problems have to be pointed out by a movie.

The films, which ranged from Love Story to The Devil Wears Prada, all have one thing in common: they focus on marriage and long-term intimate relationships. Said Ronald Rogge, lead author of the study,

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.

If you want to try it yourself, the researchers released their list of 47 marriage-mending movies as well as some potential back-up options. So grab some popcorn, fire up Netflix, and start the easiest therapy you'll ever have.

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