The next time you snuggle up for a date night with your sweetie, consider popping in a flick that deals with long-term relationships. It could just be the glue that keeps your relationship together.According to a 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester, watching and discussing five movies about relationships over the course of one month could actually slash the three year divorce and separation rate for newlyweds in half (from 24 to 11 percent). In fact, this surprisingly fun—not to mention extremely affordable and straightforward—method was found to be just as effective at lowering divorce rates as couple’s therapy. Seriously.The groundbreaking study involving 174 couples is the first of its kind to compare various types of early marriage intervention programs over a long period of time. Newlywed couples were given a list of 47 popular, relationship-focused films—including “Love Story,” “The Way We Were,” “Gone With the Wind,” and “Indecent Proposal”—and asked to watch one a week for a month and then talk about them.
25 Movies That’ll Save Your Relationship
“The movies were merely vehicles for getting couples to talk,” says YouBeauty Relationship Expert David Sbarra, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and the director of clinical training at the University of Arizona. “The study breaks ground because we’re looking at what’s working, and it doesn’t have to be a super-intense intervention. Instead, you’re getting people to spend time reflecting on their own relationships.” And that is what’s critical.Watching relationship-themed movies together is an easy way to start an open dialogue. “A lot of couples who tried this say there’s something about seeing a character on screen do something you always do that makes it less threatening to talk about,” says Ronald Rogge, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “You’re able to laugh about it because it’s not actually you doing it.”Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to catch five flicks a month—even just watching and discussing one movie a month can strengthen your bond. “We’re all giant pains in the butt in relationships,” says Sbarra. If we can learn to joke about it and use humor in movies (or on television) to help de-escalate conflict, perhaps we’ll all get our happily ever after, after all.Want to try the method yourself with your significant other at home? Visit www.couples-research.com for a sample movie list and discussion questions. Let us know how it goes!MORE: 25 Movies That’ll Save Your Relationship, Says Science