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Study: divorce-themed movies can help heal real-life marriages

Divorce and marital problems are popular themes in movies, as film buffs in Virginia know. Though divorce in real life does not always resemble how it is depicted on the silver screen, a new study suggests that certain movies can help troubled couples work on their relationships.

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, say that watching a divorce-themed film and then relating the plot to your own life can be as effective as marriage counseling. Their research found that this form of therapy cut the divorce rate after three years of marriage by more than half, from 24 percent to 11 percent. That is the same success rate as conventional therapy, the study says.

The lead author provided a list of movies that he used in the study. Many of the titles will be very familiar to fans of classic movies. They include “Gone With the Wind,” “A Star is Born,” “Pat and Mike,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

More recent titles include “As Good as it Gets,” “Jungle Fever” and “The Devil’s Advocate.” With the possible exception of the latter, many of these films involve couples struggling with relatable relationship problems. Viewing couples can have a discussion about their impressions, such as what was causing the marital strain in the plot.

The next stop would be to relate those plot points to problems in the viewers’ own marriage. The study’s author suggests making it an annual tradition.

Marriage can be hard work. Unfortunately, sometimes divorce happens, no matter how hard you try to save the marriage. Spouses have rights in a divorce proceeding that a family law attorney can help protect.

Source: New York Daily News, “Watching a movie and then talking about it could save your marriage: study,” Feb. 4, 2014

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