A recent study found that watching and discussing the relationship interactions in romantic movies during the first three years of marriage cuts the risk of divorce by half. 

This study from the University of Rochester was recently published in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology. Researchers had couples watch a romantic movie once a week for five weeks and talk about those movies afterwards. This interaction led the couples to increase their awareness of relationships– both the ones between the fictitious couples and their own. 

Reading about this study made me think about how kids in therapy talk about characters from play or books as a window into their own struggles. It feels safer for kids to talk about characters or to express an issue through play. Perhaps adults also need a safe entry point to discuss relationship issues.  Talking about film characters allows for less vulnerable discussions of sensitive topics.

I also imagine that these discussions increase self-awareness and empathy for our partners. Talking about how other people handle stressful situations allows us to think about how we might feel in similar situations and how our actions might make our partner feel. Sharing these thoughts and feelings helps us become closer to our partners by learning what might soothe them in a time of stress (or conversely what might inflame a situation).

Want to try it for your own relationship? Dr. Ron Rogge, the lead researcher of the study has posted a link to the movie titles and discussion questions used in the study. You can find them here: https://www.courses.rochester.edu/surveys/funk/

The list is extensive, ranging from Funny Girl to Jungle Fever – providing something for everyone. So, grab some popcorn, answer the relationship questions and start up your DVD player!