Can a Rom-Com Save Your Marriage?

02/12/2014

Gone-with-the-wind-kiss-456x304
You may learn something from Rhett and Scarlett's relationship.

As ridiculous as it sounds, a classic boy-meets-girl movie may be the remedy for your marriage troubles. A recent study found that couples who watched "chick-flicks" and talked about the relationships of the main characters were actually less likely to break up than couples in a control group.

Researchers from the University of Rochester set out to test two types of couples therapy: CARE, focusing on acceptance and empathy, and PREP, focusing on using communication to resolve conflict. When brainstorming a third option that didn't involve counseling, they came up with the idea of a cinematic intervention: Asking couples to watch five movies and have discussions about them afterward. There was also a fourth group who received no help.

To the surprise of the researchers, the movie intervention had the same effect as therapy in preventing divorce and separation. Of the 174 couples in the study, those in the therapy or movie groups were half as likely to break up after three years compared to the control group.

Instead of choosing movies about falling in love, like "Sleepless in Seattle," the researchers selected films that depicted various stages of a relationship to appeal to the real-life couples.

Want to try the experiment at home? Here are a few of the movies used:

  • Couples Retreat
  • Steel Magnolias
  • Fools Rush In
  • Love and Other Drugs
  • She's Having a Baby
  • Waiting to Exhale
  • As Good as It Gets
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Way We Were
  • The Notebook

Which movie was most effective? "Love Story," the 1970s tear-jerker, proved to be as effecient at keeping couples together as two therapist-led meetings.

Though this study is just the beginning, this method may one day work its way into current therapists' session or provide a way for couples in rural areas to get help.

Has a movie ever sparked a discussion between you and your spouse? Tell us!

By Mara Betsch

More on Relationships:

How to Be a Supportive Partner

The Top 5 Ways Our Mates Annoy Us

Can You Have Too Much of a Good Thing in Romantic Relationships?


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