Recent research led by UR Psychology Professor Ronald Rogge proved that watching films about relationships and discussing them has the same positive effect as going to a marriage counselor.
Researchers conducted a study on 174 engaged and newlywed couples. 80% of the participants would marry during the next year. The other 20% had been married for the past six months. Rogge selected all participants through television, bridal shows, radio, and flyer advertising and similar events. Then he randomly divided them into four groups.
Two of the groups had to go to seminars that aimed to prevent divorce and improve communication.
The third group didn’t receive any counseling.
Initially, the couples who participated in the last fourth group had to see five films about relationships in a one-month period.
This replaced the counseling seminars. They also had to discuss the movies and compare their relationships to the ones presented in the film.
“The fourth group had to reveal what are the benefits if couples spend time together, concentrating on their relationship and discussing it,” Rogge declared.
The improvement of the partners in the groups was tracked during a three-year period.
Which method was the most successful?
The outcomes of the research revealed that 24% of the couples who had no counseling got divorced by the end of the last year of the study. Compared to this barely 11% of the couples who attended seminars and 11% of the ones who participated in the movie discussion group had separated with their partners.
The researchers emphasized that the purpose of watching the films was not to make the couples copy the idealistic life that Hollywood portrays.
In America, film and media influence our perception of the “perfect relationship,” according to a 2003 study.
“I think that there’s a stereotype, or a conventional kind of love, that the media is trying to represent and to get across,” Digital Media Studies student Max Nadler ‘17 said. “It is just based on the kinds of morals that we build and the media tries to present for us.”
Rogge also expressed his opinion.
“Apart from the messages the scriptwriters are unwittingly imposing on us; we can use these films as a way to initiate discussion about what our relationships are doing in our own lives, in what way they’re working, and how we want them to develop.”
According to Rogge, the films helped to more easily explain the problems that made the partners unhappy.
What are the advantages of the movie-discussion method?
The movie discussions needed less time and were more efficient than the more intense programs. Here are the reasons why:
“It’s incredibly portable. There are great marriage intervention programs available now, but most need qualified therapists to deliver them. If couples can do this alone, it makes it so much simpler to help them,” Rogge stated in an article on the University of Rochester Website.
The film-discussion practice was so efficient because it made the partners be together for a longer time, opened discussions about serious problems, and allowed each partner to look at their attitude in the relationship in a comfortable atmosphere.
According to the researchers:
When life knocks people down, they will come home, and the people they would most probably lash out at in frustration are their close ones. For these couples watching a film together and discussing it was a chance to find the time and the courage to say some important and honest things to their partner. Like for example:
‘You know, I have shouted at you like that before. I have called you names before, and that’s not right. That’s not what I want to do to the one I love the most.’
Just that insight alone is possible to make this intervention work.
Rogge stated he thought the conclusions drawn from the study could come in useful when trying to keep families together and calming conflicts between mothers, fathers and their kids.
Rogge’s study has been discussed on different favorite shows such as: “the Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” and in the Democratic and Chronicle along in over 900 other newspapers.
Rogge considered that the film method would be useful for long-term marriages too.
The reason is that some of the newlyweds in the research had been together for seven years or so.
“Taking time to sit down and take an objective look at your connection with your partner is essential for any couple at any stage. They can make it an annual event they do when their anniversary is near—watch a film together and discuss it. That could be a wonderful thing to do and a great gift to their life as a couple.”
The researchers have even provided a list of recommended films.
Here are a few films from the list: As Good as it Gets (1987), Anna Karenina (2012), Gone with the Wind (1939) and many others comedies and dramas.
Do you watch romantic films with your partner? Do you think these types of movies have positive effect on your relationship?