Rom-Com Relationship Therapy

by Kayleen Schaefer

Any woman who’s ever fought with a guy after the kind of movie where Katherine Heigl finds love may be shocked by the findings of a new study. A report published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that watching a romantic film with your spouse and discussing it afterwards lowers your likelihood of divorce as much as going through couples therapy does. Researchers analyzed 174 newlywed couples who either went through therapy or merely watched and discussed romantic movies, and after three years, both groups had equal divorce rates. Here’s a transcript from one couple, who watched the romantic movie “Her,” about a mustached man named Theodore who falls in love a whimsical operating system named Samantha.

What main problem(s) did this couple face? Are any of these similar to the problems that the two of you have faced?

Her: Does this seem kind of crazy to you? He was a human and she was a voice inside the computer. How can we relate our relationship to that?

Him: Lemme think. Um, maybe it’s how you don’t like it when I watch porn on my computer?

Did this couple strive to understand each other? Or did the couple tend to attack each others’ differences? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

Her: They talked A LOT about their differences. Like, tell me what it’s like to be an operating system. Tell me what it’s like to be a human. And they really seemed to listen to each other, which was nice.

Him: Sometimes I text you so I don’t have to talk to you.

Her: I do that too.

Did the couple have a strong friendship? Did they do considerate or affectionate things for each other? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

Him: Yeah, she wrote him song that was meant to be like a photograph of their relationship.

Her: I can’t remember the last time I even wrote you a card. I bought one a month ago but then I couldn’t think of anything that meaningful to write on it so I never gave it to you.

Him: I don’t want to be out of line here, but I also thought it was considerate when she organized that threesome.

Her: But it ended with the lady she invited over huddled in the closet crying and saying “I’m sorry.”

Him: We could try it?

How did the couple handle arguments or differences of opinion? Were they able to open up and tell each other how they really felt, or did they tend to just snap at each other? Did they try using humor to keep things from getting nasty? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

Her: I really liked when she said she had to go during one fight because she didn’t like who she was right then. That happens to me, except I don’t quit fighting. I just keep texting crazy shit like, “I just feel things so much more than you do.” I’m probably not going to stop doing that, though.

Him: And when he was like, I keep saying I’m okay when I’m really not and I need to stop doing that, I could relate to that. But I’m probably not going to stop doing that either.

What other comments do you have about this movie?

Him: Just that Joaquin Phoenix is creepy as fuck.

Her: He so is. I love you.

Him: I love you too.

Her: Did this actually work?

Kayleen Schaefer is a writer in New York. “Her” is the first movie that’s ever made her cry.