‘Quarantine and chill’ was pretty popular in the beginning stages of lockdown but now couples are starting to get on each other’s nerves. How can we resolve this close-quarters conflict? Apparently queuing up a goofy romantic comedy and discussing the various wins and foibles the couple goes through on their 90-minute journey can soften up broaching any conflict resolution issues you may have in your own relationship!
The case-study in scientific terms
Researchers published their findings recently in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. What they discovered was fascinating: couples that merely discussed the misadventures of the on-screen romantic couple at the finish of the flick reduced their likelihood of getting a divorce down the line by 50% compared to couples who fell asleep before the end. Why is this?
The couples in the case study
One hundred and seventy-four newlyweds were assigned to a fifteen-hour intensive group intervention program created with honing conflict resolution skills in mind as well as ways to apply support, empathy, and acceptance when it came down to communicating with your partner overall.
This experimental group was compared to the control group in which they received only one session or no sessions of what they call “relationship awareness,” (actively discussing on-screen relationship issues perhaps ones that may pertain to their own blind spots in the communication). Co-author Ronald Rogge explains what he discovered with these couples.
“These findings highlight the potential value of cost-effective interventions such as relationship awareness, cast doubt on the unique benefits of skill-based interventions for primary prevention of relationship dysfunction, and raise the possibility that skill-based interventions may inadvertently sensitize couples to skill deficits in their relationships.”
In other words, discussing how dumb that guy was to not even congratulate his new fiancé on her new promotion at work might make you think about last year when you were too caught up in your own issues and quite possibly though inadvertently did the same.
It’s much easier bringing up these issues after seeing them resolved so candidly on your flatscreen from the safety of your own home! Don’t forget to tell your wife how great her DIY haircut looks as well, no need to thank me! Just tell her to avoid chemical straighteners for her health and she’ll be fine.
Ronald Rogge adds in an article written up in PureWow, “watching a movie together and having a discussion, that’s not so scary. It’s less pathologizing, less stigmatizing.”
Apparently when couples were urged to talk for a mere 30 minutes at the end of their yearly viewing of Love Actually (a personal guilty pleasure of mine) divorce rates shrank significantly! How much did they shrink? Apparently over fifty percent. Does anyone have a Netflix password they’re willing to share? Asking for a marriage on the rocks.
The statistics from the study
“Couples in the no-treatment condition dissolved their relationships at a higher rate (24%) than couples completing PREP, CARE, and RA, who did not differ on rates of dissolution (11%). PREP and CARE yielded unintended effects on 3-year changes in reported relationship behaviors. For example, wives receiving PREP showed slower declines in hostile conflict than wives receiving CARE, and husbands and wives receiving CARE showed faster declines in positive behaviors than husbands and wives receiving PREP.”
Let’s break down what PREP, CARE, and RA are all about in language we can all practically apply to our strained relationships.
- PREP: skills in managing conflict and problem resolution
- CARE: skills in acceptance, support, and empathy
- RA: a one session ‘relationship awareness intervention with no skill training’ also known as talking for 30 minutes after your movie
Luckily, watching and discussing a fun, flirty romantic comedy coupled with marital counseling and mindfulness techniques can be the recipe for a long and happy relationship. Like they say in The Hunger Games: ‘May the odds be ever in your favor.’