What role did self-disclosure play in the movie “Fireproof”?

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Self-disclosure is a psychological concept that describes the process by which one communicates private information about oneself to another person. In social theory, the depth and breadth of the information shared is important in developing intimate relationships based on mutual trust and respect. While breadth is most easily achieved at...

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Self-disclosure is a psychological concept that describes the process by which one communicates private information about oneself to another person. In social theory, the depth and breadth of the information shared is important in developing intimate relationships based on mutual trust and respect. While breadth is most easily achieved at the beginning of a relationship, depth of information is usually shared over time. Many relationship issues can be traced to a lack of depth in self-disclosure that creates a barrier to real intimacy.

The 2008 religious film Fireproof, directed by Alex Kendrick, deals with a married couple whose relationship seems to be crumbling. Caleb Holt, a fire captain, argues constantly with his wife, Catherine, a hospital administrator. Catherine is frustrated with her husband because of his (what she views as) misplaced priorities and his so-called addiction to pornography. After an explosive fight, Catherine asks for a divorce. Caleb’s father advises him to secretly complete a marriage counseling program called the "Love Dare" before following through with the divorce.

Self-disclosure plays a role in this film because of the conflicts it creates in the Holts’ marriage. Caleb doesn’t give Catherine the depth of intimacy that she craves, causing her to seek it elsewhere. In turn, Catherine also closes herself off from her husband, another barrier to deep intimacy. It is only when Caleb reveals his true nature via the completion of the Love Dare that Catherine opens herself up to her husband. One could argue that Caleb’s secrecy over completing the challenge is actually the opposite of self-disclosure. However, because the challenge allows him to reveal his charitable, caring persona to his wife, it is actually the ultimate example of the deep self-disclosure that fosters intimacy. This depth allows the Holts to reconcile at the end of the film because of their renewed, deeper trust and respect.

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