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If you think your relationship may be heading straight into a therapist’s office, you may want to consider a couple of hours in the movie theater — or even on your living couch — with your honey.
According to new study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, chatting about a relationship-themed movie with your partner can be as helpful as intense therapy sessions since it has been shown to reduce the divorce and separation rate in young marriages (three years or shorter) from 24 percent to 11 percet.
The researchers divided 174 newlywed couples into three groups: the conflict management group, where they learned how to handle heated discussions through a technique called active listening (listening and then responding on a delay to avoid flying off the handle); the compassion and acceptance training group, where they attended lectures and took the softer approach to their partner through actions like practicing random acts of kindness; and relationship and awareness through film, where they watched five couple flicks over a five-week period (one being the 1967 romantic comedy “Two for the Road” about the ups and downs of a married couple), followed by a 45-minute discussion.
So which type of therapy was the most effective? It was a three-way tie since they were all equally effective. "The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships,” stated Ronald Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, as reported by ScienceDaily. “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."
Also, since some of the newlyweds had been together (in total) for as long as seven years, Rogge adds that he this movie method might also be useful for long-term relationships, as well. "You might not be able to get your husband into a couples group, especially when you are happy," he adds. "But watching a movie together and having a discussion, that's not so scary. It's less pathologizing, less stigmatizing."
Many of us turn to the big (and little) screens in order to escape, but also to learn everything from history to how to make a kiss-ass vodka sauce. And even though a movie can be fictional (yes, which includes movies based on a true story), I guess it's easier to relate to your relationship issues when they’re being played out by more glamorous people.