Pass the Diacetyl and Save Your Marriage

Posted on February 9, 2015


If you are a therapist, member of the clergy, marriage counselor, or author of a book about relationships, Life in the Boomer Lane has some mighty bad news for you. For the mere cost of a movie ticket (and, of course, popcorn), one’s marriage can be saved.

Contrary to what many might believe, this therapy does not involve purchasing a ticket for one’s spouse (hopefully, the discounted senior ticket), seating them in a theater of their choosing (with ample popcorn), and hoping they stay there forever. It does, however, involve watching and discussing five romantically-themed movies with ones spouse.

Psychology Today reports that a three-year long study out of Rochester University found that a movie-based intervention worked as well as a therapeutic intervention in preventing divorce, cutting the divorce rate in half, as compared to a control group. Movies, it seems, can teach us how to succeed at marriage. It is important to note that the couples in the study were at the beginning of their marriages, during that heady time in which bad breath and nose hair have not yet made their insidious way into one’s formerly blissful relationship.

Three years later, the results were in. Only 11% of the movie-going couples were divorced, as compared to 24% of the control group couples. All couples experienced a decline in overall marital satisfaction, but twice as many movie-viewers chose to stay together. Just what effect the popcorn had on all this is unclear, and whether the absence or addition of butter (or rather, diacetyl) was significant.

The following is a list of the films that were watched, although one could watch virtually any film containing at least one couple (the couple not necessarily requiring the stipulation that both be human) and address onself to the dynamics of the relationship. This would expand the list to include films like Lassie (a boy and his dog), American Sniper (a boy and his gun), Her (a boy and his hot AI app), Fifty Shades of Grey (a boy and his sexual props), and Birdman (a boy and his feathers).  All can serve as valuable metaphors in creating and maintaining relationships, specifically: Pet and feed your dog. Clean your rifle. Maintain your computer. While toys add spice to life, they are not the sum total of life.  Do not jump off a ledge unless you are a famous star in a big deal film and the ledge is actually only a foot off the ground.

The bottom line is that relationship success should never be taken for granted. The dynamics of any successful relationship must be taught, and the best time to do so is when people are so new in their marriage that they haven’t even sent off the thank your notes or paid the photographer. It is during this time that they are still willing to sit next to each other and, if the relationship includes a human of the male persuasion, he is willing to view some idiotic romantic comedy and pretend to care enough about it to discuss it.

Again, LBL has no details about popcorn consumption, although she is guessing that as the marriage ages, the amount of popcorn needed to get through a film most likely increases. Conversely, if one is newly married and each spouse requires their own giant vat of diacetyl-saturated bliss to get through a film, this marriage may be in trouble from the get-go. LBL knows of no program that can help in that case, except maybe Weight Watchers.