Written by Aaron & April Jacob
Can watching 5 movies help your marriage?
It's called movie therapy.
Listen up, because we're going to tell you about some fascinating research that highlights the benefits of a new kind of therapy - therapy that doesn't cost a cent (unless you include the cost of renting a movie).
You're going to like this.
Ronald Rogge, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, wanted to find a way to strengthen marriages and help couples protect their relationships against divorce (especially in the early years of marriage).
So, what did he do? He conducted a study.
It's a pretty fascinating study.
What they did is they took couples who had been married three years or less and divided them into three groups.
One group learned conflict management skills through lectures, sessions, and assignments. The second group learned about compassion, acceptance, listening, and kindness, through similar lectures and assignments.
The third group tried a new kind of therapy - movie therapy.
Yes, this last group watched movies and answered a set of questions afterwards.
5 movies to be exact.
In less than one month.
Co-author of the study, Thomas Bradbury, said "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." (here)
Did you catch that? Most of us don't actually need skill-building programs per se, we just need to remember and actually implement what we already know we need to do. (P.S. This is exactly what our new book, Nurture, is really all about.)
To read ALL the details about the study, go here.
Bradbury concluded, "The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. Thus, you might not need to teach them a whole lot of skills to cut the divorce rate. You might just need to get them to think about how they are currently behaving. And for five movies to give us a benefit over three years—that is awesome." (here)
Isn't that fascinating?
We love this idea and think it's one every couple should try.
The power of movie therapy seems to be that it gets couples to think about and talk about their marriage relationship, almost as though they are taking on the role of a counselor. Simply paying attention to, and then discussing relationship tips/advice/skills can work wonders for a marriage.
Another plus to this movie therapy thing is that it is a practical place you can start working on your marriage - this very weekend.
Perhaps your spouse has zero desire to go to marriage therapy, or doesn't want to pay for marriage therapy, suggest movie therapy and give it a try. It's a softer way of discussing your relationship, and the results prove that it works.
Try Movie Therapy
Want to try movie therapy? You know you do.
Here are a few tips for making it successful.
A. Talk to your spouse about the idea and get him or her on board. Some spouses may love the idea of watching a movie, but may not be that excited about talking about their relationship for 45 minutes afterwards. Make sure they know that you are going to do both.
B. Take turns picking the movies you want to watch. Make a list of 5 movies you want to watch this month, and print out the worksheet with questions here. (**Note, we are pretty particular about the movies we watch, so we aren't personally recommending every movie on this list.)
C. Start the movie early enough in the evening that you aren't too tired to talk about it after! (The study suggests discussing the movie for 45 minutes.)
D. Cuddle up, snuggle, and have snacks and blanket close by.
E. Go through all of the questions after the movie and discuss, talk, and listen. Oh, and be humble. Don't take things too personally. Pretend you are marriage counselors and look for what you can learn and apply in your own marriage.
F. Do it again. Try and make a ritual out of movie therapy. (We can see the meme's now - Movie therapy, "It will be fun," they said.)
At least three good things may come from trying movie therapy:
1. You will spend at least two hours together.
Hopefully, and ideally, cuddling close together on the couch. That is good for a marriage.
2. You will talk about your relationship. In a positive way.
In an almost fun way. That is really good for your relationship. Plus, that kind of deep-level communicating is a good way to connect emotionally and help you two feel closer together.
3. You will go away thinking about the things you learned and being more aware of your relationship.
As life marches on, you will recognize the next time either of you does something that you learned you should or shouldn't do from participating in movie therapy. In fact, you may develop a few inside jokes, or a few "names" that remind you of what not to do. For example, say your wife rolls her eyes at you a lot, just like "Joan," from that movie. Just call her "Joan," every time she does it and she will laugh and remember not to do it!
Yes, movie therapy is definitely worth trying. It's a simple way to strengthen, protect, and nurture your marriage. So, go pick a movie and see if it doesn't help nurture your marriage this week!
Download the packet with a list of possible movies and the questions to ask here.
Photo credit top photo: Ashley Swenson Photo
Movie List & Questions Download found here.
Press release from The University of Rochesterhere.
Learn more about Professor Rogge here.
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
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