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  • Is your marriage on the rocks? 

    Well, if you’re considering trying couples therapy, you may want to opt for a simpler and more enjoyable activity that may just save your relationship: watching a romantic movie together.

    couple sofa

    Photo by Richard foster via flickr creative commons

    According to a study from the University of Rochester, couples benefited from watching relationship-based movies together and then discussing the films afterwards. They were found to be less likely to separate or to divorce. The study also claims that one session of romantic film viewing was as effective as at least two marriage counseling sessions. 

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    One of the cons of couples therapy is how expensive it can be. 

    174 couples were divided into three groups, namely conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and the movie exercise. 

    Those in the conflict management group were taught a skill called “active listening”, which requires one of the partners to paraphrase what the other spouse is saying during heated arguments. The technique aims to ensure that both understand what the other is trying to say.

    Those in the “compassion and acceptance training” group were asked to treat their spouse like a friend and to practice random gestures of affection and kindness.

    For the group watching movies, they were first given a 10-minute lecture on “relationship awareness”, and then given a list of 47 movies to watch at least once a week each month, and then discussing the main points in the film, finding the connection to their own marriages. Some of the listed movies included “Couples Retreat” or “Date Night”, as the researchers considered these to show more of how couples work through issues together, rather than more popular love stories such as “Sleepless in Seattle” or “When Harry Met Sally”. 


    Related story: 10 Unlikely But Romantic Valentine’s Day Movies to be Watched Together 

    “A movie is a non-threatening way to get the conversation started,” explains Ronald D. Rogge, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “It’s really exciting because it makes it so much easier to reach out to couples and help them strengthen their relationship on a wide scale.”

    All methods for the three groups were found to be effective in slicing the incidences of divorce from 24 percent in the control group, to 11 percent. Those in the control group did not receive any form of intervention.

    “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,” added Rogge. “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.”




    February 10, 2014. Tara Parker-Pope. “Movie Date Night Can Double as Therapy” well.blogs.nytimes.com 

    February 13, 2014. Charlotte Alter. “Forget Couples Therapy, Just Watch a Romance Movie” healthland.time.com 

    “Study: Watching romantic movies can improve your marriage” living.msn.com 

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