Recommended Movies

Strengthening relationships with movies

Recent findings (Rogge et al., 2013) suggest that couples can strengthen their relationships over the first 3 years of marriage by watching movies together and then using them as a way to discuss their own relationships (press release).

You do not have to restrict yourself to the movies on these lists. You can use other movies provided that they spend at least some screen-time showing the day to day struggles of romantic relationships (movies showing couples falling in love generally don’t do that).

Once you have watched a movie together, get started on your discussion using the questions below.

Original Movie List from the Study

A Star Is Born (1954) Mr. Blandings Builds his Dreamhouse (1948) Adam’s Rib (1949)
My Favorite Wife (1940) Anna Karenina (2012) Nina Takes a Lover (1994)
As Good as it Gets (1997) Nine Months (1995) Barefoot in the Park (1967)
On Golden Pond (1981) Children of a Lesser God (1986) Pat and Mike (1952)
Days of Wine and Roses (1962) Penny Serenade (1941) Desk Set (1957)
Phffft [Pfft!] (1954) Dying Young (1991) Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker (1994)
Fools Rush In (1997) She’s Having a Baby (1988) Forget Paris (1995)
Steel Magnolias (1989) French Twist (1995) Terms of Endearment (1983)
Funny Girl (1968) The Devil’s Advocate (1997) Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Egg and I (1947) Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) The Male Animal (1942)
Hanover Street (1979) The Out of Towners (1970) Husbands and Wives (1992)
The Thin Man (1934) Indecent Proposal (1993) The Way We Were (1973)
Jungle Fever (1991) Untamed Heart (1993) Love Jones (1997)
When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) Love Story (1970) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Made for Each Other (1939) With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) Mississippi Masala (1991)
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) Move Over, Darling (1963)

Additional Movies

American Beauty (1999) Obsessed (2009) Anger Management (2003)
Something’s Gotta Give (2003) Autumn in New York (2000) Surviving Christmas (2004)
Bee Season (2005) Sweet Home Alabama (2002) Before Sunset (2004)
Sweet November (2001) Blue valentine (2010) Terms of Endearment (1983)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) The Five-year Engagement (2012) Couples Retreat (2009)
The Back-up Plan (2010) Crooklyn (1994) The Big Wedding (2013)
Date Night (2010) The Bounty Hunter (2010) Deliver Us From Eva (2003)
The Break-up (2006) Devil Wears Prada (2006) The Campaign (2012)
The Devil’s Advocate (1997) The Door in the Floor (2004) The Family Man (2000)
The Glass House (2001) Fatal Attraction (1987) The Good Girl (2002)
Father of the bride (1991) The Horse Whisperer (1998) Fool’s Gold (2008)
The Marriage Chronicles (2012) Four Christmases (2008) The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
Her (2013) The Money Pit (1986) Hope Springs (2012)
The Notebook (2004) It’s Complicated (2009) The Story of Us (1999)
Julie & Julia (2009) Think Like a Man (2012) Jumping the Broom (2011)
True Lies (1994) Just Married (2003) Unfaithful (2002)
Life as we know it (2010) Waiting to Exhale (1995) Longtime Companion (1989)
Wanderlust (2012) Love and other drugs (2010) What Lies Beneath (2000)
Marley and Me (2008) When a man loves a woman (1994) Meet the Fockers (2004)
Why did I get married? (2007) Monster-in-law (2005) You, Me and Dupre (2006)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Don Jon (2013) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Before Midnight (2013) The Best Man Holiday (2013) This Is 40 (2012)

RANKINGS: To help you select movies, here are some recent rankings of movies on these lists made by 1,100 couples who gave this process a try.

RANK TOP 20: USEFUL FOR DISCUSSIONS RANK TOP 20: RELEVANT TO OWN RELATIONSHIP
1 American Beauty 1 Before Sunset
2 Funny Girl 2 Obsessed
3 Before Midnight 3 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4 Two for the road 4 Funny Girl
5 Obsessed 5 Before Midnight
6 When a Man Loves a Woman 6 Fools Rush In
7 Husbands and Wives 7 Four Christmases
8 The Marriage Chronicles 8 Marley and Me
9 I Give It A Year 9 Father of the bride
10 Hope Springs 10 When a Man Loves a Woman
11 The Way We Were 11 The Five Year Engagement
12 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 12 Hope Springs
13 Yours, Mine and Ours 13 This is 40
14 Out of Towners 14 Husbands and Wives
15 The Five Year Engagement 15 Children of a Lesser God
16 Her 16 Love Story
17 Children of a Lesser God 17 Couple’s Retreat
18 Fools Rush In 18 Yours, Mine and Ours
19 Four Christmases 19 Devil’s Advocate
20 Dying Young 20 Forget Paris

DIRECTIONS: Please use the following questions to discuss the relationships portrayed in the movie.

What movie did you watch? *This question is required.

1. What was the main relationship portrayed in the movie? This is the relationship that you will focus on in the following questions.

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

3. Did this couple strive to understand each other? Did they tend to accept one another, even if they were very different? 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?

4. Did the couple have a strong friendship with each other? Were they able to support each other through bad moods, stressful days, and hard times? Did they listen to each other like good friends? Did the couple in the movie 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?

5. 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 with anger? Did they try using humor to keep things from getting nasty? Did it feel like they were really trying to understand each other?

In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

6. If the couple got into arguments, did they tend to become heated? Did the couple ever start attacking each other, getting increasingly mean and hostile? Did they end up saying things they didn’t really mean? Once this started happening, how did the arguments tend to end?

In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

7. When one of the partners brought up a problem, did they seem to do it in a constructive way (keeping things specific, explaining their feelings without attacking), or did it seem more like an attack? Did it seem like bringing up a problem became an assassination of the partner’s character?

In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

8. How did the couple in the movie handle hurt feelings? Did they apologize to each other? Did the apologies seem sincere? Did they tend to jump to negative conclusions when their feelings got hurt, or did they tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt?

In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

9. Did the partners seem to have similar expectations of their relationship? Where did their expectations differ? Did it seem like they were aware of their own expectations? Were their expectations reasonable? Did they share their expectations with each other?

In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?

10. What other things happened in the movie that might lead you to think differently about your relationship/marriage?

11. What other comments do you have about this movie?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Very Much Extremely
How useful was this movie for generating things to talk about in the discussion that followed?
How relevant was this movie to your own relationship?
How entertaining was this movie?
How would you rate this movie’s overall quality?