THE secret to a good marriage could lie in a cosy night in watching a romcom.
Researchers have said that couples who watched, and discussed, five movies a month about relationships had half the three-year divorce rate for newlyweds.
The study of 174 couples, is part of a long-term investigation comparing different early marriage intervention programmes.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The report says that a fun and simple movie-and-talk approach can be as effective as more intensive therapy.
Watching films reduced the divorce or separation rate from 24 to 11 per cent after three years.
“We thought the movie treatment would help, but not nearly as much as the other programmes in which we were teaching all of these state-of-the-art skills,” said the study’s lead author Dr Ronald Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester in the US.
“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.”
The researchers randomly assigned newlyweds to one of three groups: conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and relationship awareness through film.
All three methods halved the divorce-and-separation rate to 11 per cent, compared to the 24 per cent rate among the couples receiving no intervention.
“I think it's the couples reinvesting in their relationship and taking a cold hard look at their own behaviour that makes the difference,” said Dr Rogge.
“You might not be able to get your husband into a couples group, especially when you are happy.
“But watching a movie together and having a discussion, that's not so scary. It's less pathologising, less stigmatising.”