Sunday, January 25, 2015

Movie Date Night Can Act as Therapy

Film poster for Steel Magnolias - Copyright 19...
Film poster for Steel Magnolias - Copyright 1989, TriStar Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I for one would say that the movie date night is having the factor of the couple being together, doing something together, which is very much against today's techonology found in smartphones or similar devices - very much anti-social to begin with...


One of the great divides in male-female relationships is the “chick flick” – a movie like “Terms of Endearment” or “The Notebook” that often leaves women in tears and men bored. But a new study shows that sappy movies can actually help strengthen real relationships.

A University of Rochester study found that couples who watched and talked about issues raised in movies like “Steel Magnolias “and “Love Story” were less likely to divorce or separate than couples in a control group.

Surprisingly, the “Love Story” intervention was as effective at keeping couples together as two intensive therapist-led methods: The CARE method focuses on acceptance and empathy in couples counseling, while PREP is centered on a specific communication style that couples use to resolve issues. The researchers wanted a third option that allowed couples to interact without intensive counseling.

They came up with the movie intervention, assigning couples to watch five movies and to take part in guided discussions afterward. They chose movies that show couples at highs and lows in their relationships. A fourth group received no counselling or self-help assignments and served as a control group.

Going into the study, the researchers expected that the CARE and PREP methods would have a pronounced effect on relationships and that the movie intervention might result in some mild improvements to relationship quality. To the researchers’’ surprise, the movie intervention worked just as well as both of the established therapy methods in reducing divorce and separation.

Among 174 couples studied, those who received marriage counselling or took part in the movie intervention were half as likely to divorce or separate after three years compared with couples in the control group. The divorce or separation rate was 11 percent in the intervention groups, compared with 24 percent in the control group.

The findings were published in the December issue of The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Ronald D. Rogge, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and the lead author of the study, and his colleagues have since been recruiting couples to study the effect of the movie intervention on different relationships, including long-married and same-sex couples. Megan Clifton, a 27-year-old student in Knoxville, Tennessee, has lived with her boyfriend for nearly two years. She says the two have “great communication,” but she opted to try the movie intervention.

While watching “Date Night” with Tina Fey and Steve Carell, the couple laughed at the scene in which the husband fails to close drawers and cabinet doors. “He leaves cabinet doors open all the time, and I become the nagging girlfriend and he shuts down a little,” Ms. Clifton said.

“When we were watching the movie, I said ‘That’s you!’ and it was humorous,” Ms. Clifton said. “We ended up laughing about it, and it has helped us look at our relationship and our problems in a humorous way.”

Further research is needed to validate the movie method. One flaw of the study is that the control group was not randomized.

But Dr. Rogge, summing up the value he sees in the movie method, said, “I believe it’s the depth of the discussions that follow each movie and how much effort and time and introspection couples put into those discussions that will predict how well they do going forward.”

Taken from The New York Times International Weekly, TODAY Saturday Edition, March 8, 2014

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