Sign up FAST! Login

Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies

Stashed in: Relationships, Marriage

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Both programs involved weekly lectures, supervised practice sessions, and homework assignments over the course of a month, for a total investment of roughly 20 hours, all but two of which were with a therapist.

By contrast, the movie-and-talk group devoted half as much time to their assignments and all but four hours took place in their own homes. Participants first attended a 10-minute lecture on the importance of relationship awareness and how watching couples in movies could help spouses pay attention to their own behavior, both constructive and destructive.

They then watched Two for the Road, a 1967 romantic comedy about the joys and strains of young love, infidelity, and professional pressures across 12 years of a marriage. Afterward, each couple met separately to discuss a list of 12 questions about the screen couple's interactions. One question, for example, asked how the movie partners handled arguments: "Were they able to open up and tell each other how they really felt, or did they tend to just snap at each other with anger? Did they try using humor to keep things from getting nasty?" The couple was asked to consider in what way the movie relationship was "similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?"

Study participants were sent home with a list of 47 movies with intimate relationships as a major plot focus and asked to watch one a week for the next month, followed by the same guided discussion for about 45 minutes.

Which approach proved most effective? To the surprise of the researchers, all worked equally well. All three methods halved the divorce-and-separation rate to 11 percent compared to the 24 percent rate among the couples in the control group. Partners in the control group received no training or instructions but were otherwise similar in age, education, ethnicity, relationship satisfaction, and other dimensions.

Discussing relationship movies, it turns outs, was just as effective as more intensive skills-building programs. The results suggest that many couples already possess relationship skills, they just need reminders to put these into practice, the authors conclude. "And that's an amazingly fertile idea. It's more sensible and it's cheaper," said Bradbury.

So the movies give us reminders to put our relationship skills to work? Cool!

You May Also Like: