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Can watching a movie lower the chances of divorce?

When most of us need an escape from reality, we go no further than our local theater -- or even our own couch -- to spend a few hours watching a movie. While this simple act is a great way to relieve stress after a long week, it may surprise you to learn that it can also serve as an effective method of strengthening your marriage.

Back in December, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology published a study by a pair of researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Rochester, which determined that those couples who sat and watched a movie together actually saw a reduced divorce rate.

The researchers arrived at this conclusion while attempting to ascertain whether there were definitive forms of intervention that could help bring newly married couples -- a demographic with surprisingly high divorce rates -- closer together.

As part of their study, the researchers divided the 174 volunteer married couples into four separate groups. Here, the first two groups received traditional "marriage enhancement techniques" such as couples' retreats or counseling. The third group received no therapy whatsoever, while the fourth group was told to watch five movies from a pre-selected list of 47.

The list of 47 included those films that depicted couples handling everyday matters. Titles that made the cut included "Barefoot in the Park," "The Money Pit," and even "Fatal Attraction."

After viewing the films, the couples were required to answered a series of questions supplied by the researchers ("what problems did this couple face?" "what was the main relationship portrayed in the movie?").

Three years after the completion of the study, the researchers contacted each of the 174 couples to determine the divorce rates for each of the four groups. The results were truly eye opening:

  • The divorce rate among the control group -- the group that received no therapy -- was 24 percent. 
  • The divorce rate among the two groups that received traditional counseling was 11 percent. 
  • The divorce rate among the group that watched movies together was 11 percent.

"We just threw that in as a control. And we found out, maybe we don't have to teach all these skills, maybe spending time together works just as well," said the researcher of the movie group findings.

What are your thoughts on this study? Are you skeptical or do you think the researchers are on to something concerning the films?

Source: The Journal Star, "Movie night or marriage counselor?" Cindy Lange-Kubick, Feb. 18, 2014

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