Pop some popcorn, grab some blankets and put in the latest Keira Knightley movie -- a new study found that newlywed couples who watched romantic films together were at a decreased risk for divorce.
Researchers from University of Rochester and University California Los Angeles studied 174 couples through the first three years of marriage to test the effects of different types of relationship counseling on marital success.
Couples were divided into four groups. The first two groups received intensive, skills-focused forms of counseling where they were taught how to work through marital problems. The third group received relationship awareness counseling (known as RA), where they were given information about maintaining their relationship but offered no real skills. The fourth, a control group, received no counseling at all.
Couples in the RA group were instructed to watch five romantic movies together and then talk about the themes of the films and their own relationship. Films included "Love Story," "Husbands and Wives," "Anna Karenina," "Indecent Proposal," "The Out of Towners" and more.
By the end of the three-year study, 13.3 percent of couples in the RA group had separated, 13.4 percent of couples in the structured counseling groups had separated and 24.4 percent of couples who received no counseling at all had separated.
Thus, watching the movies and simply discussing marital problems was just as effective in keeping couples together as the more developed, intensive counseling programs for newlyweds.
"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, the lead author of the study, in a press release. "The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. 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. And for five movies to give us a benefit over three years -- that is awesome."
Rogge is now doing a follow up study in his relationship lab to explore this concept further.