Watching a movie with your honey is a great way to take a break from everyday life, but could it save your marriage?
Researchers at the University of Rochester say yes, pointing to evidence from a three-year study that followed 174 newlywed couples who were told to watch five romantic movies – among them the iconic “Love Story” — and talk about it.
Among the group of movie watchers, the divorce rate fell from 24 percent to 11 percent.
Jennalee and Adam Herb participated in the study, and gave their take on it.
“It’s just nice to not only to spend the time together but also talk about it a little bit. It’s not a conversation we would normally have unless we were directed in to it,” said Jennalee.
Ronald Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, explained the approach, saying the movies actually serve as a non-threatening way to get couples talking about their own relationships.
“The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships,” Rogge said in a statement released by the university last week. “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.”
But not every romantic film is suitable, Rogge said.
“Movies like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ or’ Sleepless in Seattle,’ those movies don’t work as well. Because the couples only end up together at the very end of the movie, you don’t really see them getting through day to day life,” he said.
Among Rogge’s movies that are better for this approach?
“Yours, Mine and Ours,” a modern tale of blending step-siblings into one big family, and “Indecent Proposal,” a film about a man who’s offered $1 million to allow another man to sleep with his wife.
“We never anticipated that from watching five movies, having five discussions based on your relationship, that we would be able to cut the divorce rate in half,” Rogge said.
“It’s incredibly portable,” Rogge said of movies as therapy. “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.”