A new U.S. study with 174 married couples followed pairs through a “movie and talk” study for three years, finding that newly married couples who watch romantic comedies and talk about the on-screen relationships are more likely to stay together. Those who didn’t discuss the components of relationships in the movie, on the other hand, were more likely to get divorced.
The study began with participants watching a 10 minute lecture about relationship awareness and how watching couples in movies could encourage members of a relationship to be more cognizant of their own behavior. Next, couples watched Two for the Road, a movie that covers the challenges and triumphs of infidelity and young love. After the movie finished, participants were asked to think about how certain characters managed their relationships and used communication skills with their partner. After this exercise, couples were asked to watch one movie from an approved list each week for one month.
The lead author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, Ronald Rogge, believes that the study gave the couples as many benefits as could be obtained through couples’ therapy. The relationships within movies jumpstarted conversations between couples about behavior and communication, encouraging them to reflect that back on their own lives. Rogge believes that it is getting individuals to think more about their own behavior and how it can impact others as well as their own relationship that was most helpful for couples participating in the study.