Movies are part of contemporary culture. A marvel of technology, movies can emulate reality or create an entirely fictional universe to advance the age-old past time of storytelling. There are movies for children, lovers, action entertainment, and there are movies for married couples to help them cope with family life.
In This Article
We have compiled a list of must-see movies that every married couple should watch to strengthen their bond as a family and as lovers. Like traditional storytelling, if the morals can be taken to heart, it can build character and even save marriages.
1. Jerry Maguire
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Rating: 7.3/10 Stars
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger, and more
Release year: 1996
This Cameron Crowe masterpiece, coupled with great performances by top Hollywood stars, is this first one on our list of marriage movies. Tom Cruise plays the titular character who breaks up with his fiancee amid a career crisis and is joined by a woman who decides to stand by him. Their relationship is no fairy tale but it just goes to show how two people in love can weather any storm.
When a man has to choose between integrity and money, career and marriage, or success and family, this is the film to watch.
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Josef Sommer, Harve Presnell, and more
Release year: 2000
Nicolas Cage is the star in this movie and plays a powerful Wall Street investment broker and his alter-ego, is a suburban family man. Cage’s character is at the top of his game “who doesn’t need anything” while brokering billion-dollar deals and driving Ferraris.
He gets a life lesson from an “angel” played by Don Cheadle when he meets the love of his life, (again) played by Tea Leoni, and the children he never had.
Cast: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Sterling Knight, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kat Graham, and more
Release year: 2009
Zac Efron stars in this movie about a man who gave up his life dreams and potential to marry his pregnant teenage girlfriend. A mirror-image opposite story of “Family Man,” where the frustrations of a mundane and mediocre life strain a long-term couple’s relationship.
It is an excellent example of movies about marriage problems and how, over time, couples lose sight of why they married each other in the first place.
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands, James Garner, and more
Release year: 2004
We can’t have a list of love and marriage movies without The Notebook. In this movie by Nick Cassavetes starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands, and James Garner is a great film about a love that never dies. Marriages, most of them, are based around love.
It transcends money, status, and social other barriers when a man and woman is truly in love. The Notebook is a feel-good story of a couple and a love that we all dream about as teens and old folks.
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant, and more
Release year: 2003
Director Richard Curtis did an excellent job interweaving the multiple story arcs that make up the movie Love Actually.
Defining the meaning of love in not so subtle ways with the help of a star-studded English cast that includes everyone from Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson), Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), to Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), and together with Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant, and many more except Gandalf.
Love Actually is a movie that shows how love is the true spice of life and how our world revolves around it.
Cast: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, and Amber Valletta, and more
Release year: 2005
Will Smith plays the title character Alex “Hitch” Hitchens. Together with Eva Mendes, Kevin James, and Amber Valletta, they try to define the meaning of love and marriage and how simple, yet complicated it really is.
While most marriage movies revolve around love and marriage, Hitch is about the uphill battle in finding The One.
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Brooklyn Decker, and more
Release year: 2011
Speaking of Marriage movies, this one starts with how a marriage can go wrong from the get-go. The movie witnesses the evolution of Adam Sandler’s character from a total loser to a playboy in just one scene
Enter Jennifer Anniston, his long-time assistant, and young Brooklyn Decker, as she plays a young character that Sandler thinks he is in love with.
“Just Go with It” deals with comfort, chemistry, and friendship – how all of it matters in marriage after the lust has died down.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, and more
Release year: 2004
While there are other Adam Sandler marriage movies such as “The Wedding Singer,” Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, together with director Peter Segal, outdid themselves in 50 First Dates.
Metaphorically talking about how a couple needs to continue courting each other to stay in love, 50 First Dates puts that concept up on the surface with a bit of flair and trademark Happy Madison comedy.
Other good movies broach the subject directly, such as Indecent Proposal and Sliding doors. But Unfaithful, together with perfect performances from Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Olivier Martinez, hits the nail on the head.
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, and more
Release year: 2010
This masterpieceges fail due to little thing is an excellent marriage movie about the little things. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams portray a run-of-the-mill couple from dysfunctional families and how past, present, and future trivial matters add up and crack the foundations of marriage.
While it’s bad form to discuss how it ends, most couples do go through what Gosling and Williams go through in a marriage. It’s a recommended watch, especially for those couples who believe “nobody understands.” their situation.
Cast: Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, Julie Hagerty, and more
Release year: 1999
Speaking of little things, “The Story of Us” released 10 years earlier, with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer in the lead roles. Together with director Rob Reiner, broached the topic of breaking marriage foundations over seemingly trivial matters.
Most marriages fail due to little things. These, in turn, lead to big issues such as infidelity, domestic violence, or substance abuse. Couples looking to fix their marriage should learn how to live past it to survive long-term relationships.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, and more
Release year: 2004
While “50 First Dates” is centered around constantly making new happy memories to stay in love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind delves into the possibility of staying in love by removing bad memories.
Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and director Michel Gondry introduced the concept of “ignorance is bliss” to the extreme in this movie.
While Carrey reverting to his over-the-top slapstick signature style of acting gets annoying at some points in the film (or in any movie for that matter), Eternal Sunshine does a great job of discussing the topic to forgive is to forget.
Cast: Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Robert Forster, Faye Dunaway, Frankie Faison, and more
Release year: 2017
Religion and philosophical differences are one of the main reasons why a couple does not stay together. The problem in this movie (while it’s not the central theme) is if someone changed in the middle of the marriage.
Based on a true story of Lee Strobel, the screenplay writer Brian Bird has done a great job showing how marriage is drastically affected by changes in points of view in life. Lead actor Mike Vogel and actress Erika Christensen play the Strobels.
Cast: Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Jon Favreau, and more
Release year: 2006
The Break-up may have the lowest rating on this list. But, if you’re looking for movies about rekindled love and how messy an actual divorce is, then this movie is the one that leaves the best impression.
Comedians Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston do a great job in turning a serious subject of divorce and make it an entertaining topic with a great moral lesson. “The Break-up” is a must-watch marriage movie even if your relationship is not on the rocks.
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and more
Release year: 2010
Long-distance relationships, figuratively and literally, is another challenge couples go through at some point in the long term. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long tackle the issues of long-distance relationships, meeting each other halfway, and going through hoops for love.
While technically not a marriage movie, Going the Distance is great for couples who need to be reminded how much both parties need to adjust to make any relationship work.
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, and more
Release year: 2009
500 Days of Summer is a great movie about relationships and communication breakdowns. Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and together with director Marc Webb show how messy relationships are, regardless of the effort one or both parties put into it.
While many lessons can be taken from 500 Days of Summer, such as incompatibility, fate, and true love, it can also be interpreted in so many ways, which adds to the movie’s novelty.
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston, Stephen Tobolowsky, and more
Release year: 2009
A Time Traveler’s Wife is a marriage movie that deals with a lot of issues of marriage. Adding “time traveling” as a twist turns into an entertaining rollercoaster.
While time-traveling romance is not exactly new especially with Somewhere in Time (1980) and The Lake House (2006) being better movies in the time travel + romance genre (but not appropriate for couples trying to mend their relationship), Director Robert Schwentke together with leads Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams shows how marriage is about family and children.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Sally Field, Gary Sinise, and more
Release year: 1994
Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump is not technically a marriage movie, but legendary actor Tom Hanksplaying the lead title roledoes a great job in showing the world the meaning of love and family.
Forrest Gump’s illustrious life weaves a heartwarming story of love and innocence.
It’s on this list because while there are more than a few movies here that show how love and marriage is a complicated mess, Forrest Gump takes a different approach and shows that it is actually so simple that even an idiot knows it.
Cast: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Pete Docter, and more
Release year: 2009
Disney Pixar is not exactly known for marriage movies. Up, however, is an exception to the rule. In the first minutes of the film, it shows that marriage is based on a simple premise of keeping promises.
Before I decide to add another Rachel McAdams movie on the list, I’d like to say that there are many more marriage movies that deal with the many intricacies of love, relationships, and divorce.
Examples are Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) about a messy child custody lawsuit based on a true story, and there are also other kinds such as the Fifty Shades trilogy.
But movies to save marriages are hard to find. While most marriage movies have an underlying moral lesson, most are hidden under comedy or hot sex scenes to hit home.
Watching the list above is not a silver bullet that would help any couple save their marriage, but if they do take the time to watch at least half of them and talk about what they learned from it, then maybe, it will reopen communication and help you both reconnect- Just like when they were young, stupid, and dating!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.