Watching a Rom-Com Might Just Save Your Marriage

By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.

To quote (and paraphrase) the great Taylor Swift: "It's a Love Story, baby just say 'yes'"… to watching. A new study conducted by the University of Rochester found that "discussing five movies about relationships over the course of a month could cut the three-year divorce rate for newlyweds in half."

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The Rochester team assigned study participants, who were all newlyweds, to one of three different groups. Their goal was to demonstrate how effective communication and getting spouses to reflect on their current behavior could cut the divorce rate.

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One group learned conflict management skills to diffuse heated discussions. Another practiced compassion and acceptance training, where couples learned exercises to approach their relationships from an empathetic standpoint. Members of these two groups attended weekly lectures, supervised practice sessions, and homework assignments.

The third group, on the other hand, was able to devote half as much time to their assignments and do most of their work at home. After a 10-minute lecture about how watching couples in movies could help them reflect on their own behavior, participants were sent home with a list of 47 movies that focused on an intimate relationship--including Love Story, As Good As It Gets, and Funny Girl. All they had to do was watch and discuss a list of questions about how the couple in the movie interacted.

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Surprisingly, all three approaches halved the divorced rate among couples in the study versus those in a control group. "Discussing relationship movies, it turns out, was just as effective as more intensive skills-building programs," researchers determined. Turning a mirror on their behavior by comparing it to couples' interactions in movies provided insight on how they did or did not want to behavior towards their spouses. Plus, it sounds like a lot more fun than all those lectures and homework.

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