Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
In this film, several characters are involved in intimate relationships, and this includes Judith, who is one of the key characters. The relationship in the film can be explained in line with Mark Knapp’s model of relational development. According to the model, the developments witnessed in relationships are broken into two phases; the coming together and coming apart phases. The ‘coming together’ phase encompasses stages such as initiation, experimentation, intensifying, integration and bonding. On the other hand, the ‘coming apart’ phase comprises stages including differentiating, circumscribing, stagnation, avoidance, and termination (Griffin 123).
Despite the fact that she is married, Judith is involved in a relationship with Harley, whom she meets while working for Janice. Judith’s relationship with Harley begins at the initiation stage, which according to the model mentioned above, involves individuals making first impressions on each other based on physical appearances and other characteristics that are noticeable during the first meeting (Griffin 123). In the film, it is evident that during their first meeting, Harley gets attracted to Judith and makes several attempts to seduce her. Judith, on the other hand, is attracted to Harley because of his looks and wealth acquired through his involvement in internet entrepreneurship.
Their relationship proceeds to the experimentation stage, which according to Knapp’s model, is a stage where individuals’ engagement in self-disclosure with the aim of learning information about one another is evident (Griffin 125). It is argued that at this stage, there is exploration and individuals get a feel for each other as well as of the relationship. Evidently, in the film, after getting attracted to each other, Harley wants to learn more about Judith’s sex life. Harley influences Judith, who tries to change her sex life with Brice, her husband, only to be rejected by him.
Judith and Harley’s relationship gradually proceeds to the intensifying stage, where they continue to experiment with the aim of determining whether there are affection and emotional attachment. It is seen that the level of self-disclosure between the two deepens and this is highlighted by the fact that Harvey notices and appreciates Judith’s change in appearance on her birthday. Harvey also sends flowers to Judith and confesses that he would do anything to be close to her. The self-disclosure between the two is strengthened when they take a trip to New Orleans to make a finalization on a business deal. After sealing the business deal, the two lovebirds dance, eat, drink, and sightsee together, activities that support the deepening of their self-disclosure.
Succeeding the intensifying stage is the integration stage where Judith and Harley are fused and share information about their friends, family, living spaces, and belongings. This stage is experienced only when the mutual affection between those in a relationship is confirmed. In line with this, Harley accompanies Judith when she goes to visit her mother, and that was the first time he was meeting a member of Judith’s family. Judith also introduces Harvey to her friends such as Janice, although the relationship results in the break up between Janice and Judith.
It cannot be doubted that their relationship proceeds to the bonding stage, where the relationship is displayed publicly and is exclusive (Griffin 127). This is evident in the fact that Harley successfully convinces Judith to leave her husband, with the claim that he would help her jump-start her career in the business of marriage counseling. Judith also moves to Harley’s place and is continuously involved in sexual activities with him, and these are things that only take place during the bonding stage of the model.
In the film, it can be seen that the relationship between Judith and Harley faces challenges, and this is the ‘coming apart’ phases according to Knapp’s model of relational development. Like the ‘coming together’ phase, the ‘coming apart’ phase encompasses five key stages including the differentiating, circumscribing, stagnation, avoidance, and termination phases. The relationship in focus is seen to proceed to the differentiating stage, in which there is an emphasis on the differences of Judith and Harley. Besides, previous similarities that existed gradually disintegrate (Froemling et al 23), and thus, Judith’s and Harley’s attitudes seem individualistic. In the film, the two disagree on how Mrs. Sarah was treated by Harley, and this leads to Harley beating Judith. The differences are heightened by Judith’s incessant yells at Harley about various activities.
Their relationship in the ‘coming apart’ phase proceeds to the circumscribing stage in which each of them is prescribed own space. Normally, at this stage, there is a significant distance between the partners (Froemling et al 16), and this could see one of them being busy in the kitchen whereas the other in living room. In line with these perspectives, after the bust-up and violence between Harley and Judith, the former spent a good time in the bedroom while the latter spent a good time in the bathroom. This implies that each of them had owned space, a characteristic of relationships that is only evident in the ‘coming apart’ phase.
Irrefutably, their relationship proceeds to the stagnation stage, which according to the Knapp’s model, involves one partner mentioning or speaking more of a third party, and thus, is irritating (Froemling et al 43). In the film, the involvement of Brice who beats Harley supports the procession of the relationship to the stagnation stage. The contact or connection between the two is minimal, and this significantly contrasts the time during the onset of the relationship.
Their relationship worsens further as it proceeds to the avoidance stage. Upon realizing that Harley’s ex-girlfriend has HIV, Brice moves fast to rescue Judith from the mess in which she is. Judith later realizes she has contracted HIV after engaging in sexual activities with Harley. This is one of the key reasons why the two individuals avoid each other, an underscore of the fact that their relationship is in the avoidance stage.
The relationship then proceeds to the final stage, the termination stage, which according to Knapp’s model of relational development, is a stage where partners do not receive outcomes that are mutually satisfying from being with one another. Besides, at this stage, none of the partners is happy prompting the relationship to come to an end. In the film, after the mistreatments and violence directed towards her by Harley as well as the realization that she has contracted HIV, Judith cuts her links or association with Harley. She moves from Harley’s house to that of her mother where she becomes more religious than before. She has regrets of breaking up with Brice and mistreating her mother.
Froemling, Kristin K, George L. Grice, and John F. Skinner. Communication: The Handbook. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2011. Print.
Griffin, Cindy. Invitation to Human Communication – Nationalgeographic. S.l.: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.