By Sheva Carr
There is a new piece of research in from the University of Rochester published in December’s Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology that is good news for anyone who just cannot get their spouse to a marriage therapist. I absolutely love this study because it confirms what I always thought was true- It is a myth that “Relationships are hard work!”
That myth tends to be perpetuated by the high divorce rate: one in four marriages break apart within the first three years! Because we live in a culture of “no pain no gain,” we project onto that statistic that in failed marriages people just didn’t “work hard enough.” Personally, I am not into pain in my relationships or anywhere else! What has made my 18 year partnership work like a two decade honeymoon is that it is NOT work- it is a source of play and joy. The study done at the University of Rochester confirms that Robert and I may not be an anomaly- and that if you want your relationships to last, you can find intimacy and connection through entertainment and joy, not just through hard work!
In the study done by U of R, researchers looked at 174 couples over that tenuous first three years of their marriage when ¼ of them were expected to divorce. Couples were randomly assigned to one of three programs:
1) Conflict management
2) Compassion training
3) (This is the part I love!) Watch a movie and talk about it afterwards.
The conflict-management and compassion-training groups required about twenty hours of therapist-supervised lectures and practice sessions. Watching movies? That took half the time and was almost entirely done at home. But here’s the fun part: all three dramatically reduced the divorce rate equally from 24 percent to 11 percent.
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