A recent study by researchers at the University of Rochester finds that fun loving habits like watching five movies together a month can help partners resolve marital issues in the early years.
According to the researchers, the movie therapy slashed the divorce rates from 24 percent to 11 percent after three years of marriage.
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Inexpensive and fun activities like watching movies proved to be effective and even better than more intensive therapies and counseling sessions, according to the study team.
"We thought the movie treatment would help, but not nearly as much as the other programs in which we were teaching all of these state-of-the-art skills," said Ronald Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study.
The researchers recruited 174 couples for the study and divided them into three sub-groups: conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and relationship awareness through films.
The participants in the first group or the conflict management group as defined by the researchers were trained on how to deal with heated issues in a better way. The couples learned skills about how to bring down the anger level in such incidences and listen patiently to the other partner instead of dominating the conversations.
The next group, or the compassion and acceptance training team, participated in an intervention designed by the researchers that required the couples to work together as a team and find common ground. They were advised to be more empathetic and bring kindness and understanding into the relationship.
The sessions included 20 hours of lectures, supervised practice sessions, and homework assignments conducted over a month with experts. The third group of participants in the movie-watching section was given an initial 10-minute lecture on the importance of relationship awareness and how watching on-screen couples may help in recognizing the potentials of the other partner.
The participants were given a list of 47 movies based on intimacy of relationships to watch at home. Each week a movie was suggested that they could watch, which was followed by an interactive session between the respective couples, where they looked into the positive and negative qualities of the movie characters.
According to the researchers, the movie therapy was as effective as the earlier two and less stigmatizing.
"The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships," said Ronald Rogge, who led the study in a press release. "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."
At the same time, the therapy is also cost effective and does not require trainers, the research states.