Earthquake action disaster movie "San Andreas" shook its way to the top of the box office this weekend at home and worldwide.
Set in California, the film stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Carla Gugino as a couple whose marriage has hit the skids just before a monumental earthquake hits the Golden State. As any viewer could glean from the film's trailer, the film is full of hairs-breadth saves.
As the New York Times pointed out recently, "San Andreas" is the latest in a long line of films to depict the utter destruction of California, but it's also the latest in a tradition of natural disasters playing the role of marriage counselor.
From 1972's “The Poseidon Adventure” to 1996's “Twister” to "San Andreas" this year, Hollywood seems to suggest that the cure for relationship troubles is what used to be called an act of God.
"As we watch the cities crumble and the human race get vaporized, it helps to see that we still have some hope — likely in the form of one couple who just might rebuild everything, be it literally or figuratively," Slate's Jay Deshpande wrote.
While the remarriage-amid-disaster trope has been used enough to be considered cliched at this point, there's actually some scientific evidence to support its accuracy.
Studies conducted in the wake of devastating hurricanes like 1989's Hurricane Hugo concluded that marriage rates increased post-storm. Disasters also seem to slow divorces, with research pointing to significant decreases in divorce rates following both 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing which could not be explained by an interruption in civil services.
"People seek security in the face of threats and grow closer to their sources of comfort," author Karla Starr wrote, theorizing about the impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. "Catastrophes can also give people a push into the next stage of their lives and provide a reality check about what’s important."
Couples counseling might be a safer approach to putting a marriage in perspective.