What if you could cut your likelihood of divorce in half just by watching five movies with your partner and discussing them afterward?
Well, some pretty interesting research out of University of Rochester found that just might be a good alternative to intensive couple's therapy. Once a week for a month they had couples watch a movie together and discuss the movie for 30-45 minutes afterward.
Fast forward three years later, and the movie-watching group showed half the divorce rate of the comparison group and a similar divorce rate to the other two intervention groups that involved a trained therapist (a conflict management group and a compassion and acceptance training group).
However, this can't just be any movie. The movie does need to portray a long-term relationship couple. A romantic comedy wouldn't be ideal because they typically show the initiation of love. An action movie wouldn't be ideal because of the lack of focused couple dynamics. The movie needs to show the struggles and joys of long-term relationships so that it can be personalized and discussed afterward between the couple.
The researchers figure it isn't just watching movies together that decreased the divorce rate here. People watch movies all the time and still get divorced. They figured it was more about the time spent together to focus on the relationship and dissect what they could be doing differently for one another when it comes to support and communication that really made the difference.
The idea is that couples can learn about their own behaviors by watching other couple's behaviors on the big screen. Seeing a couple fight on screen allows for a personalization and perhaps realization that you don't want to treat your own loved one that way. Seeing a couple care for one another and practice consideration on screen allows for that same personalization and perhaps realization that you want to appreciate your own partner.
The implications of this are broad. This method is so much more accessible than couple's therapy due to its limiting nature of cost and trained professionals. Just about anyone can rent an old movie and talk with their partner afterward. In fact, if you want to give this a try in your relationship, the researchers have made the guided movie discussions and a list of movies available for the public here. Go forth, watch movies, communicate with your partner, and according to this research, you'll be doing your relationship a whole lot of good.