†††††††† If I taught a course on relationships to a group of students, I would use the play and movie A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 and filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, respectively, as a negative example. The main characters, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) and Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins), seem as though they are a happy couple, but there is a deep, underlying problem. Nora is treated like a naïve little girl while she is actually a smart woman. Torvald takes advantage of her love and loyalty and ultimately ruins their relationship.
†††††††† I would teach students that it is not in a couple's best interest to ignore problems they might have with their spouse. Nora should have told Torvald the very first time he treated her like a little girl that it is unacceptable. By saying nothing, Nora actually accepts the treatment with open arms. Sometimes in relationships, spouses may not know they are doing something wrong unless it is pointed out to them. Torvald probably believes women are inferior and that it is in their genes to be spendthrifts. Of course, that is not true, but unless Nora pointed it out to him, Torvald would never know. Torvald might have been raised to think women are mentally weaker and have lower IQs.
†††††††† Nora, on the other hand, is at fault as much as Torvald. There should never be secrets in a relationship if it is expected to last for a long time. At first there is a good reason to keep the secret of how Nora got the money to move to Italy. Torvald might never have gone along with the move if he knew of the borrowed money, so Nora kept it to herself. When the move was successful, Nora should have told her husband the secret, instead of letting him find out through someone else. Nora would not have been called a spendthrift because she was using most of the money she got to pay for the loan. Nora had put herself in a bad situation by not communicating with Torvald.
†††††††† Nora and Torvald should have sat down and had a mature, adult conversation. It seems that only Nora knows there is a problem because she is the only one hurting; Torvald only thinks of Nora as his "doll." A doll does not have feelings!
†††††††† In order to have a good married relationship, couples need communication, respect for each other's feelings, and, of course, love. Students would come away from the class knowing that lack of communication and respect is a bad thing. It may not affect the relationship right away, but over time it will.