One blogger says watching back-to-back Christmas films has strengthened his relationship.
Jon Beaty, like most married men, was not a fan of the Hallmark Channel’s annual Christmas special, "Countdown to Christmas." On November 12, the author and counselor detailed his disdain for romantic comedies on the popular parenting blog, MomZette.
"I based my past dislike of romantic comedies on the assumption that these stories set women up with romantic expectations that can’t be met by the men who love them," Beaty wrote on MomZette.
However, after sitting through a few winter and love-filled movies on the feel-good channel, as well as sifting through studies on the subject matter, the father of two has changed his mind about the impact of these films on relationships.
"It turns out that the romantic ideals expressed in romantic comedies don’t create unrealistic expectations," Beaty explained.
Beaty came to this conclusion based on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which examined the association between watching romantic comedies and the lofty ideal of finding the perfect partner. Their data concluded that both men and women still have practical beliefs when it comes to love, as opposed to the romantic entanglements they watch in movies.
The same researchers also carried out another study analyzing the 50 top-grossing romantic comedy films between 1998 and 2008, such as Runaway Bride and Sweet Home Alabama. The research project produced compelling results. Although the idea of finding a soulmate was a common thread in the movies, the belief that "relationships take hard work" appeared twice as much in their findings as the concept of a soulmate.
"Perhaps the most surprising discovery on this topic revealed that watching romantic movies can improve a marriage relationship," Beaty wrote.
According to Beaty, researchers at the University of Rochester in New York studied newlywed couples and their reaction to romantic comedies. Those participating couples were asked to watch one movie a week for five weeks.
"Those who watched the movies had an 11 percent divorce rate after three years," Beaty stated. "This low divorce rate was similar to those couples who received therapist-led training. The couples who received no treatment or movies had a 25 percent divorce rate."
After each movie, each couple was asked to discuss the on-screen couple’s communication skills and to compare their own relationship to the one portrayed by the movie couple. These thorough discussions, which happened once a week for five weeks, ended up strengthening the participant’s relationships up to three years after the study.
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Based on this data, curling up on the couch with your spouse to watch a few classic Southern films or Hallmark Christmas movies might be just as productive as going to couple's therapy.