Movie Night as Marriage Therapy?

movie night marriage therapy

movie night marriage therapy

Valentine's Day is here again.  Many people in significant relationships are looking for ways to connect with their partners and show that they care.  As part of their holiday celebration, many couples will be either going out to the movies or watching a romantic flick at home this weekend.

What if that simple act of watching a film with your partner could be used to build your relationship - and possibly provide the same divorce-prevention power as seeing a marriage therapist to learn new relationship skills?  Recent research suggests that this may be possible.

A recently published study by Ronald Rogge, Ph.D. at the University of Rochester and Tom Bradbury, Ph.D. of the University of California-Los Angeles supports this idea.  They created a novel new program for building relationships in the early years of marriage.  For their new "therapy," they asked newlyweds to watch 5 movies from a pre-selected list and have a guided discussion about the movie afterward.  Couples participated in the exercises from the comfort of their own home and did not work directly with a therapist on building their relationship.

Other couples in the study worked with a marriage therapist to learn different strategies for managing conflict or building acceptance of their spouse.  An additional group did not do any marriage-building activities at all.

The researchers found that divorce rates for the couples who watched movies and discussed them together at home were the same as divorce rates for couples who did marital counseling with a therapist.  Couples who didn't participate in any of the marriage-building activities had divorce rates that were twice as high as the other groups in the study.

The take-away message seems to be that spending some time discussing your relationship with your partner can be very beneficial.  And these relationship-building conversations can effectively happen at home after watching a movie.

So, the next time you're ready to enjoy a movie with your partner, check out the study website at to see a list of recommended movies and the discussion guide to use with your partner.  You can even opt to participate in future projects with the research team.

For more information on the research, you can also read the full press release here.