Discussing five movies about relationships over a month could cut the three-year divorce rate for newlyweds in half, researchers report. The study, involving 174 couples, is the first long-term investigation to compare different types of early marriage intervention programs.
Religious groups have long-standing traditions of offering marriage preparation classes, but with roughly half of all marriages in the United State ending in divorce, secular institutions are now joining the effort. For example, Fairfax County, Va. offers free "compassion training" to newlyweds, the U.S. military has an "oxygen for your relationships" program, and Oklahoma, home to the nation's highest divorce rate, has poured millions into its "marriage initiative."
To test this theory, the team randomly assigned newlyweds to one of three groups: conflict management, compassion and acceptance training, and relationship awareness through film. They chose to concentrate on the first three years of marriage, because "relationship dissolution is front-ended," said Bradbury; one in four ends in divorce.
By contrast, the movie-and-talk group devoted half as much time to their assignments and all but four hours took place in their own homes. Participants first attended a 10-minute lecture on the importance of relationship awareness and how watching couples in movies could help spouses pay attention to their own behavior, both constructive and destructive.
Study participants were sent home with a list of 47 movies with intimate relationships as a major plot focus and asked to watch one a week for the next month, followed by the same guided discussion for about 45 minutes.
Which approach proved most effective? To the surprise of the researchers, all worked equally well. All three methods halved the divorce-and-separation rate to 11 percent compared to the 24 percent rate among the couples in the control group. Partners in the control group received no training or instructions but were otherwise similar in age, education, ethnicity, relationship satisfaction, and other dimensions.
Discussing relationship movies, it turns outs, was just as effective as more intensive skills-building programs. The results suggest that many couples already possess relationship skills, they just need reminders to put these into practice, the authors conclude. "And that's an amazingly fertile idea. It's more sensible and it's cheaper," said Bradbury.
Since people watch movies all the time, what exactly makes this intervention so magic? "I think it's the couples reinvesting in their relationship and taking a cold hard look at their own behavior that makes the difference," explained Rogge. "The sad truth is that when life knocks you down, you come home and the people you are most likely to lash out at in frustration are the ones you love the most. For these couples to stop and look and say, 'You know, I have yelled at you like that before. I have called you names before and that's not nice. That's not what I want to do to the person I love the most.' Just that insight alone, is likely what makes this intervention work."
For couples interested in trying the film discussions for themselves, Rogge's lab website (www.couples-research.com) offers interactive tools to help with the process, including lists of movies and the discussion questions used. Couples can also sign up to participate in a follow-up online study of the movie-and-talk intervention at the site.
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Part of any divorce is determining how to divide what has been accumulated during the marriage. Digital areas to address include streaming media accounts, digital copies of music, movies or TV shows, personal content, such as family photos and videos, and digital copies of financial documents. Coming to an agreement on how these assets will be handled in the divorce settlement is important, and each issue can be resolved in various ways:
Still, the Internet is running rampant with users who illegally download -- commonly via peer-to-peer networks like Limewire or BitTorrent, and also from friends who will pass on the goods. So how illegal is this, and what are the potential penalties?
Types of works protected by copyrights include "works of authorship" such as literary works, musical works, and motion pictures, among others. Songs and movies, therefore, definitely fall within the category of works protected by copyright.
Copyright infringement occurs when the works are reproduced, republished, or used without permission from the copyright holder. This is where illegal downloading kicks in. The violation is typically enforced as a civil matter, although specific penalties vary by jurisdictions and some may apply criminal punishments.
Don't let out a sigh of relief just yet, though. Just because time in the slammer can usually be avoided for illegally downloading doesn't mean that you won't be paying a pretty penny for your illegal acts.
Under federal copyright law, the damages that you may owe can range from $750 to $30,000 ... per work. So if you illegally download, say, 10 songs -- doesn't seem that offensive, right? Think again, because the penalty for that can be as much as $300,000.
Furthermore, this is only according to statute. Courts may find that, depending on the specific facts of your case, you should be penalized even more harshly and be fined more. For example, a 32-year-old woman from Minnesota was found guilty of downloading 24 songs and fined $80,000 per song, for a total of $1.9 million, according to CNN.
While she's on the trip, she capriciously buys a neglected villa in the remote countryside and begins to renovate. Along the way, she meets new friends, faces new challenges on her own, and begins to process her divorce.
In their view, intellectual property, in the form of copyright and patents, unfairly restricts access to ideas and expression. They consider illegal downloading to be victimless crime, and do not think it imposes significant cost on anyone. In their view, the serious criminal sanctions that sometimes attach to illegal downloading are draconian and unjustified.
For them, the massive penalties that are sometimes attached to illegal downloading are important because they send a clear message that this practice should not be tolerated. This seems to be the view of much of the entertainment industry, as well as public officials and legislatures in countries that produce and export a lot of intellectual property.
The same is not true when I download a digital file of your copyrighted property. In downloading your film, I have not excluded you from its use, or your ability to benefit from it. I have simply circumvented your ability to exclude me from its use. To draw an analogy, this seems more like trespassing on your land than taking your land away from you.
The question of the morality of illegal downloading is so difficult because it takes place in an environment in which the penalties attached to this behaviour ordinarily seem to be overkill, but where there are pretty clear social costs to engaging in it.
Digital assets are items of property stored in a digital or binary format. Examples of digital assets are iTunes music accounts or Kindle eBooks. There are also airline miles and credit card rewards points. When a couple goes through a divorce, divvying up the digital assets poses more than a few issues.
The first step to dividing digital property at divorce is figuring out just what digital assets the couple has. When it comes to identifying all of your digital assets, you need to make sure that you are thinking about everything.
Suppose we are able to come up with a way to fairly value assets in a divorce. How then do we divide and distribute digital content equally among the spouses in a divorce? In the easy cases, one spouse has an iTunes account that he uses primarily, while the other spouse has a Kindle account that she uses primarily.
That means that when you purchase and download your media content, you do not own the content outright. Instead, you are merely given a license to use the media content. The user agreements are careful to explain that under no circumstances is the purchaser allowed to freely transfer the media content to other users.
The other spouse never purchased any of the digital assets, but regularly enjoyed them. When it comes time to divide the marital property in the divorce, who gets the items in the virtual library? Is the spouse who purchased the digital items entitled to all of them? If so, what about all of the money that spouse used to purchase the digital content? Were marital funds used, and if so, how can the other spouse get credit for that money?
With Bitcoin, Spouse A can, prior to discovery, secretly move the money out of the account using Bitcoin and place it in a separate account immediately, or just exchange it for Bitcoins and keep it in that form until after the divorce. There would be no record of the transaction and no way for Spouse B or her attorney to prove what happened.
Digital assets are a fun and exciting way of collecting property. Still, when it comes to divorce, dividing digital property can present a variety of problems. If you and your spouse have accumulated marital assets during your marriage, speak with a qualified family law attorney about strategic ways to identify, value, and divide those assets. 2b1af7f3a8