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Guided Movie Discussions

Page One


OVERALL APPROACH: This work was guided by the idea that many couples might already have a sense of what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly in their own relationships. Thus, it may be beneficial for couples to simply take some time out of their lives to focus on their relationships and reinvest into those relationships.

RECENT FINDINGS: Consistent with this, a recent study of couples over the first 3 years of marriage (Rogge et al., 2014) suggested that couples felt enriched by watching movies together and then engaging in relationship-focused discussions after each movie. In those discussions, couples were encouraged to examine how their relationships were similar to and different from the romantic relationships portrayed in each movie.

MOVIES PORTRAYING RELATIONSHIPS: Specifically, the couples were encouraged to watch 5 movies together over the course of a month from a pre-screened list of movies. We have provided the original list of movies, as well as a set of more recent movies that would work. The key criterion for a movie to make the list was that it devoted at least some screen-time to portraying the ups and downs of day-to-day life in a committed romantic relationship. To make the list, ideally a movie would show a couple handling some things well and also show that same couple making some common mistakes in relationships. 

This criteria unfortunately eliminates a large number of movies, including most science fiction, fantasy, and action movies as well as romantic comedies that focus on people falling in love, as those movies do not show the day-to-day dynamics of longterm couples.

USING THE MOVIES TO EXAMINE THEIR OWN RELATIONSHIPS: After each movie, the couples used a series of open-ended questions developed by the researchers to have 30-45min discussions examining how the couple on screen behaved toward each other in different aspects of the relationship (e.g., handling conflict, providing support, forgiving transgressions). 

This web form and the associated check-in surveys were designed to help couples do this same process on their own using the following steps.

  • COMPLETE THE CHECK-IN SURVEY: We would encourage both partners to complete a short (10-12min) check-in survey before getting started on watching the movies together. This will give each of you some feedback on your current feelings toward your relationship.
  • PICK A MOVIE: We have provided a list of pre-screened movies, ensuring that each of them devotes some screen-time to portraying realistic romantic relationships. You can select a movie from the list, or you can pick another movie provided that it shows enough day-to-day dynamics of relationships that it can prompt useful discussion about your own relationship. 
  • WATCH IT TOGETHER: We encourage the two of you to set some time aside to watch the movie together without interruptions - consider it a date. 
  • HAVE A 30-45min DISCUSSION: The following pages will provide the open-ended questions to help the two of you examine how your relationship is similar to or different from the relationship portrayed on screen. We would ask that as you finish discussing each question, you briefly type in the highlights of that discussion into the text box associated with each question.
  • REPEAT WITH ANOTHER MOVIE:  In about 5 days time, we will send you another email with a link to this website so that you can repeat this process with another movie portraying a romantic relationship.  Thus, you will get a total of 5 emails like the one you used to navigate here.  We spread the emails out by 5 days each as we understand that couples are generally pretty busy. However, if you would like to watch another movie earlier than that, you do not need to wait. You can simply use the link in the email to come back to this webpage as often as you would like.
To get started, simply click the "NEXT" button to see the list of pre-screened movies.