Almost fifty percent of marriages fail, and the majority fail within the first two to five years of getting married. This is a time of transition for couples, the honeymoon bliss is gone, and couples are faced with the raw reality of a lifetime together. The majority of couples don’t get pre-marital counseling and therefore they may not learn how to deal with conflict, resentment, or working as part of a team. Going to therapy helps, but many couples are financially stressed and dealing with work, children, and time restraints.
According to a recent study, experts were able to cut the divorce rate for newlyweds by half when they used movies along with guided questions to help couples understand and work through their issues. Not only that, it saved the couple time, money, and was an enjoyable “date night” as well as encouraging for the couple.
The study took place by randomly assigning couples to three groups: conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and relationship awareness. The couples did have to go to an initial lecture and attend scheduled check-ins with a therapist, but basically the “therapy” was done at home by the couple themselves. Couples were assigned to view together one movie each week, and then following the film they were to discuss it by answering twelve questions. The therapists recommended discussing the movie for 30 to 45 minutes whenever the couple could in their own home and their own time. There was no pass/fail or grade given.
The first movie the couples were assigned was, “Two for the Road”, a 1967 romantic comedy that talks about young love, infidelity and professional pressures. There were a total of 47 other films, but the couples began improving their marriages with better communication and positive attitudes toward each other within the first five movies they were instructed to watch.
Although there are a total of twelve questions couples were to answer, here are five significant ones that can help couples begin.
- What was the main relationship portrayed in the movie?
- What main problem(s) did this couple face? Are any of these similar to the problems you have faced or might face as a couple?
- Did this couple strive to understand each other? Did they tend to accept one another, even if they were very different? Or did the couple tend to attack each other’s differences?
- How was this relationship similar to or different from your relationship in this area?
- How did the couple handle arguments or differences of opinion? Were they able to open up and tell each other how they really felt, or did they tend to just snap at each other with anger? Was humor used, and if so, was it used to help or hurt their partner? Did it feel like they were really trying to understand each other?
When couples don’t get along and can no longer communicate they begin to feel alone and resentful. Often times they give up and walk away from their marriage. Knowing there are options to save your marriage instead of ending it can restore hope and put life back into your relationship. If you’re newlyweds this may be a way to deepen your marriage, improve conversation and learn to work together as a team.