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The intensity of romance pursuit felt in seeking one's love usually turns into the intensity of possessing the other person after marriage. 

— Karmayogi


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This 2007 movie starring Keri Russell as Jenna, a young woman married to a dominant, abusive husband, played by Nathan Fillion, is a charming story that brings out many real life issues of freedom, equality, self-respect and love in marriage. A brief love affair with her physician awakens Jenna to the real meaning of intimacy and helps her make the personal growth needed to assert her rights and discover her own individuality.


Articles on Waitress
Jenna and Earl are an example of a relationship based on domination, which is Level 3 on the Scale of Harmony. Read more and watch video.
Find out how Jim wins Jenna’s friendship and affection by applying Unfailing Strategies for Love and Romance (with video)
To ask questions or read more discussion of the issues related to this movie, see the Waitress forum.


Plot Summary
Waitress is a 2007 film, an American comedy drama about a lovely, affectionate, good-hearted young woman named Jenna (Keri Russell) who is trapped in an unhappy marriage with her overbearing husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). Jenna, who works as a waitress, has an extraordinary talent for making tasty pies. Her only friends are her fellow waitresses and the bad-tempered, difficult diner owner Joe. She longs to leave Earl but fears his mean temper. He is jealous, controlling, dominating, possessive, suspicious, abusive and capable of violence. He takes all the money she earns, demands that she agree with his every thought and sentiment, and forces her into a self-defensive shell of passive conciliation and submission. When Jenna accidentally becomes pregnant, she meets and is attracted a young married physician Jim (Nathan Fillion) who is gentle, kind, respectful and accepting. They embark on a passionate affair and close friendship which gives her the confidence and strength to finally break out of Earl’s tyranny and stand on her own. After giving birth to a baby, she finally decides to assert herself. With strength Earl never imagined she possesses, Jenna finally banishes him from her life with a power and decisiveness he is unable to oppose. When her externally rough and ornery former employer Joe passed away, he leaves her a large inheritance and ownership of the restaurant where she worked.


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Directed by Adrienne Shelly
Written by Adrienne Shelly
Starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion & Jeremy Sisto                                      
Copyright belongs to Fox Searchlight Pictures



External Links

  • Visit Life in Movies for original analysis of human nature and the character of life in other movies.
  • Wikipedia provides the plot summary, background, publication history and extensive links to sites on Waitress, the cast and producers.
  • The Internet Movie Database, IMDB has information related to the movie and its actors.
  • Fox SearchLight Pictures contributes to the official movie site of Waitress.
  • Watch Waitress Trailer from Apple.com
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Level 3 Domination

Relationships at this level are characterized by a constant struggle of wills between the partners. One or both partners tries to dominate the other. On or both tries and hopes to make the other person change.

Each of us looks at the world through our own special set of colored glasses from our own vantage point with ourselves as the center. That is the essence of ego. Ego regards itself as the most important character and superstar in is own mega-movie, the story of its life. Everyone else is part of the supporting cast. According to the ego, life is a battle and every relationship is an opportunity to enjoy the exercise of power or authority over others. Or when it meets a person who is stronger and more dominating, it agrees to subordinate itself and submit to that person, basking in the security or glory of the other person's strength and importance. Ego gives us that special feeling of self-importance, superiority and the right to dominate over those around us in any way we can.

Domination is natural to human relations. Leaders dominate their followers. Bosses dominate their subordinates. Nowadays, customers have become powerful so they dominate over sellers by making endless demands. Domination is a natural urge but it can be poisonous to intimate human relationships. Harmony, affection and romance are founded on mutual respect, admiration and self-giving, not on domination and submission. Where there is domination there can be no true love and romance. People dominate one another out of selfishness and out of the enjoyment that comes from exercising power. In many relationships, there is a constant struggle of wills between the partners, one partner establishing authority in some areas or activities. The other partner exerting power in other areas. Conflicts and quarrels invariably arise over issues in which one person unilaterally insists on being right or having their way and the other refuses to give in or go along.

Human relationships are an occasion for mutuality and self-giving. Yet often they are reduced to a struggle of egos for domination over one another. Relationships based on domination may last for a lifetime, but they can never generate true love and romance. Romance is born only in an atmosphere of security, freedom and respect. Harmony and joy are possible only when the ego's urge to dominate is removed and when the basic motive is to please and help one another rather than exercise control over the relationship.

Quarrels regarding who is right, what should be done or I told you so usually arise because one or both partners seek to dominate the relationship and prove their superiority over the other. Some partners openly resist domination leading to violent quarrels. Others resist by silently opposing their partner's will and intentions in their thoughts and feelings and taking satisfaction when things go wrong. Neither of these will ever generate harmonious, fulfilling relationships. The best response to a partner's attempt to dominate is to completely give up the corresponding urge in oneself and to accept and submit to your partner out of commitment to the person and the relationship. Trying to correct the other person never works. Changing the corresponding behavior in oneself never fails to evoke a change in the other. Focus your attention on pleasing the other person, take joy in making them happy, even if it means doing everything the way they want to do it, even if you know that way is not the best.

Giving freedom to the other person to be as they are without trying to change them is the very opposite of the urge to dominate. It is an act of affirmation, acceptance and self-giving that will surely evoke a positive response from the partner. The happier you feel in doing it, the more quicker and more dramatic the results.

The Proudies (Barchester Towers)

Bishop Proudie and his wife are among the most famous characters among the seventy odd novels of Anthony Trollope. When Mr. Proudie was appointed to the prestigious and powerful post of Bishop of Barchester, no one realized that behind the man was a more powerful woman, the real power behind the throne and sometimes even sitting on it. Mr. Proudie was weak, vain, mild man who cared for nothing as much as regular meals, timely tea and a drop or two of alcohol within permissible limits. Left to himself he would have done his best to avoid controversy of any kind and allow the world to go on its way without leaving any impress of his own personality upon it. Mrs. Proudie, on the other hand, was a born leader, an avid reformer, a dogmatic ideologue who was determined to root out sin wherever she found it, establish a the reign of heaven on earth by the benevolent exercise of absolute power over all church underlings within her grasp and as many of the lay public who would submit to her authority.

The two partners perfectly complemented one another, at least as far as Mrs. Proudie was concerned. She wanted a free hand to govern wisely on behalf of her husband. He was inclined to be guided by her forceful convictions, so long as it did not impose hardships or generate confrontation that he would find it difficult to manage. Unfortunately, almost everything Mrs. Proudie did provoked controversy, resentment and, occasionally, outright rebellion. This compelled the mild-mannered bishop to temporarily wrest power from his mate and act against her advice on many occasions. Discovering that the task of dealing was his wife was far more onerous than that of running a large clerical establishment, he frequently dreamed of ruling the roost single-handedly like the absolute monarchs of old. The bishops dream was a futile one, for whatever influence his wife failed to exercise during the day, she more than made up for when their heads lay next to each other on the pillow at night. So tortuous and demanding was her dominion over the good bishop, that he found himself praying frequently for a stroke of fortune that should make any honest clergyman blush with guilt and shame. His prayers were answered when his wife died an early death and he hastened immediately to eat his next meal in peace and quiet.

Jenna’s Endurance (The Waitress)

Domination is one issue on which neither of the sexes has a monopoly. Either partner can be the dominating one in the relationship. Mrs. Proudie dominated the bishop by her strength of personality. Earl dominates his wife by brute force and physical tyranny. A dominating partner may succeed for long without significant resistance and then find the tables suddenly turned. Jenna has been living for years as the psychologically abused wife of a dominating, suspicious, possessive, jealous husband, so jealous of her attention that he fears even his own baby will steal it away from him. He controls all the money so she has no freedom of action, demands that she agree with his every thought and sentiment, and forces her into a self-defensive shell of passive conciliation and submission. Although she is oppressed and resentful, she maintains the outer semblance of acceptance without openly protesting.

A careful observation shows that it is really Earl who is dependent on the relationship, starved for attention and affection, which Jenna pretends to give outwardly but has long ago ceased to feel. Aware that something is lacking in her attitude toward him, Earl constantly demands more. The more he demands, the more she submits outwardly and withdraws inwardly as the relationship spirals downhill. The true weakness of his position is revealed when he discovers she has been hiding part of her salary earnings from him. He feels betrayed and falls on his knees asking for her affection. After conceiving and giving birth to a baby girl, she finally decides to assert herself. When Earl learns of her pregnancy, he expresses his deep need for her attention.

With strength Earl never imagined she possesses, Jenna finally banishes the tyrant from her life with a power and decisiveness he is unable to oppose. Life responded to the strength and purity of her decision, as it always does. When her externally rough and ornery former employer passed away, he left her a large inheritance and ownership of the restaurant where she worked. Jenna’s is an instance of a failed relationship in which a woman had the strength and freedom to escape domination. Many are neither in the position to do so or willing to subject their children to the pain of parental separation. For them another solution is needed and there is one. The key lies in understanding the inner psychological dynamics of Jenna's relationship with Earl and the way to reverse it. For more on their relationship, see the Movie Forum discussion on Dominating Partner.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

If you would like to raise general questions on romance, love, marriage and relationship or about any of the content in this article, please post your entry in the appropriate forums

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Unfailing Strategies for Love & Romance

This article provides practical strategies for ascending the scale of romance in your relationship. If you have not already done so, please begin by reading the article Stairway to Romance and studying the Scale of Romance to identify the current level of your relationship.

Choose your goal

What you achieve depends entirely on what you aspire for, the extent of your enthusiasm and determination, and the effort you are willing to make to achieve it. The higher your aspiration, the greater your enthusiasm, the stronger your determination and the more serious your effort, the greater the goal you can achieve and the faster you can achieve it. Romance is what you discover within yourself. Your partner is a field for its expression. If both partners awaken to the spirit of romance, the intensity and fulfillment will be complete, but your attainment essentially depends on your decision, your attitude and your actions, not on those of a second person. Those who want to receive romance from others never find it or retain it. Those who seek romance for its own sake and give themselves to it can always discover it.

The first step is to formulate a relationship goal you enthusiastically aspire and are willing to seriously to attain. Your goal may bring back the intensity of romance which you have once felt or to raise the entire relationship to a higher level or to eliminate a disturbing element. It is important to ensure that the goal you choose is based on genuine goodwill for your partner and not a desire to change or dominate them. These methods only work when your attitude and intention toward the other is entirely positive.

If your present relationship suffers from any of the common negatives - quarrels, anger, tension, etc. - your next step should be to raise the level of harmony by removing those negatives from the relationship before you try to enhance affection, love and romance. Follow these steps to eliminate problems and increase harmony:

  1. Assess your relationship to determine where it is on the Scale of Harmony.
  2. Raise the level harmony in your relationship by applying the Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship.
  3. If you have any serious relationship problem, consult the IRES expert system to obtain personalized advice to resolve it.
  4. Once problems have been addressed, you are ready to rise up the scale of romance. See Unfailing Strategies for Love & Romance.

Unfailing Strategies to Improve any Relationship

Some of the strategies listed below are simple and obvious, but most are rarely applied consistently or with the right motive and attitude. Others are more profound and powerful methods that will require thoughtfulness, study and repeated effort for you to master. The quality of your attitude and motive determine the result. If practiced with harmony, goodwill, joyous expansiveness and self-giving, marvelous results are guaranteed. Practice them with the intention of bringing joy to your partner.

1. Take responsibility

Many people believe that their relationship would be vastly improved if only their partner would listen to reason, do what they say, eliminate the behaviors they find objectionable and be as sincere to the relationship as they are. The first rule for progress in human relationships may be the hardest for many to accept, but it is the single most important principle for rising in the scale of romance. It states that we have the power to improve our relationship only when we realize that we and we alone are responsible for making it better. This rule seems to contradict that obvious truth that in any relationship both parties contribute to the problems that arise between partners and to the solution to those problems. This principle is based on a profound truth of life. We acquire power of mastery in our lives only when we realize that we are the determinant of our own lives and not any circumstance or other person. Taking responsibility means to stop blaming your partner, family, friends, fate or misfortune for the difficulties you encounter in the relationship. As you apply the other principles listed below, you will come to understand the true wisdom of this approach and the real effective solution to any problems you encounter.

2. Give attention

The early stages of relationship are often characterized by sensations of novelty, suspense, anticipation and insecurity which generate an energy and excitement that can be mistaken for real affection. Once the feelings of newness subside, the intensity subsides. But even affectionate relationships can become flat over time when the partners' attention is absorbed by the demands of work, family, household and other routine activities. But this does not mean that the essential basis for romance has disappeared or cannot be revived. Any flat routine moment or event can be energized and be converted into a live or romantic moment by giving genuine personal attention to one's partner. Attention energized. Personal attention that focuses on what your partner thinks, feels and aspires can release deeper emotions and make any moment fresh. Even the most mundane work or activity can be made an occasion for attention when the importance is shifted from the activity to the person. Even just physically observing your partner's movements can have an energizing effect. Also trying to recall an experience your partner has undergone or a story or words your partner related to you months or years earlier is a form of attention.

3. Listen deeply

Encourage your partner to talk about any of his/her interests, listen carefully. Take genuine interest because it interests them. Take joy in what they enjoy for the sake of their enjoyment, not the thing itself. Many people in relationships have a long list of things they would like to tell their partners, but never do so either because they know the other person will not listen, is not interested or will not believe what they say. Deep listening is one of the simplest and most powerful strategies for raising the energy level and improving the quality of any relationship. It is also a powerful means for awakening a positive vibration of romance. Listening is a way of taking interest in another person for the sake of making them happy and discovering more about them. Even when you have known a person for decades and you think your know them inside out, the mind and heart remain a mystery. Allowing that mystery to express itself can release the wonder of romance. To be a good listener you have to know how to encourage your partner to talk about whatever is of interest to them, without interrupting, passing comments or criticism, either expressed or unexpressed, and most certainly without reaction of any kind. Silent listening without a thought in your mind is most powerful.

Listening is means of giving attention to the other person, pleasing them by your genuine response. The person is important. What the person speaks is secondary.


Jenna & the Doctor (The Waitress)

Jenna has been living for years as the psychologically abused wife of a dominating, suspicious, possessive, jealous husband, so jealous of her attention that he fears even his own baby will steal it away from him. He controls all the money so she has no freedom of action, demands that she agree with his every thought and sentiment, and forces her into a self-defensive shell of passive conciliation and submission. When she accidentally becomes pregnant, she meets a young married physician who is gentle, kind, respectful and accepting. In pouring out her long pent up grief and resentment to him, she feels a soothing balm of relief and springs of life rising up within. His simple act of listening – without interruption, comment, judgment or interpretation — just simply accepting her for what she is and has been through is enough to make her feel passionately drawn toward him. Later she realizes that what attracted her was the sense of freedom, which his listening helped awaken and liberate, giving her the strength to free herself from tyranny and set forth confidently on a new life. Life responded to the strength and purity of her decision, as it always does. When her externally rough and ornery former employer passed away, he left her a large inheritance and ownership of the restaurant where she worked.

4. Take your partner's point of view

Often we assume that we are right on an issue without even listening to our partner's point of view. No matter how right and justified we may think we are, there is always more than one valid point of view on any issue. Learn to discover the truth in your partner's point of view, no matter how partial or limited it may be. Invite your partner to express his/her viewpoint and genuinely acknowledge the truth in that perspective. Even when you believe your partner is wrong and have facts to support it, try to understand and acknowledge any factor that justifies their viewpoint or actions. When you make this effort genuinely you will find your partner less defensive and more willing to respect your perspective. Three quarters of all relationship problems will disappear if this strategy is seriously followed.

5. Intimacy

Romance is always fresh, spontaneous and personal. It is not generated by stereotyped situations and behaviors. It can be fostered by being more personal, more pleasant, more thoughtful, more intimate, by expressing a deeply felt emotion, by a greater sincerity, or by a spontaneous gesture or caress. In Pride & Prejudice Elizabeth transforms a formal moment into a romantic adventure by confessing to Darcy that she is a selfish person who cannot refrain from expressing her gratitude for all he has done to help her family. Darcy responds with equal intimacy and sincerity when he recalls how she had once rejected him by saying his conduct was ungentlemanly and that she had considered him that last man in the world she could ever marry. The essence of intimacy is the desire to please the other person and the impulse for total self-giving in utter self-forgetfulness that never seeks or expects a return.

6. Expansiveness

Expansiveness is an emotion that arises when excess energy presses to burst forth in expression. It can be generated by an amusing activity, a caress, an exchange of affectionate words, a thoughtful or unexpected gesture of help, appreciation of what your partner appreciates or any out-ward directed movement that opens to the other person in self-giving. Recall the most ecstatic moments in your relationship and try to recreate it in your shared imagination. You will find the atmosphere and sensation of the original experience returning. If you can recollect the emotions you felt at that time - not merely the circumstances, words and actions - the experience can even return in full intensity.

7. Recognize and appreciate your partner's strength

When we first meet a future partner, we may be attracted by some unique qualities seldom found in others. Yet over time we get accustomed even to the qualities we like best and tend to take them granted or focus more on other qualities we wish were present in greater measure. Often we are reminded of the value of our partner's essential qualities only when faced with a crisis that brings them to the fore. Try to enumerate all your partner's positive qualities and be conscious of them. Express your appreciation when those qualities express. Silently appreciating them at other times will create a tenderness in the relationship.

8. Freedom

Romance is a vibration that can only exist in an atmosphere of trust and freedom. That is one reason why it appears at the onset of a relationship and then disappears as commitments are made and responsibilities accepted. Romance is an adventure freely undertaken and an emotion of self-giving freely offered when nothing is assured, nothing guaranteed. Conditions, demands, doubts, suspicions and restrictions chase romance away. Extending the boundaries of trust and freedom you give your partner within the relationship to the maximum extent possible creates the best foundation for romance to flower.

9. Discover the inner Correspondences

The title of Pride & Prejudice reflects a profound truth of human relationship. There is an one to one correspondence between what we are psychologically and what comes to us from life. Darcy's pride and Elizabeth's prejudice are contradictory and opposing characteristics that meet and clash violently in the story. His proud, arrogant conviction in his wealth and social superiority confronts her prejudiced faith in her own superior insight into human nature and her own family background. By the clash between these similar but opposing attributes, both come to recognize their own deficiencies and become more humble, better and happier people. By recognizing the truth of the correspondence between them, they are able to convert mutually opposing traits into complementary characteristics that form the basis for true romance. Discovering the reality of inner-outer correspondences requires some study, thought and effort. If you want to acquire that knowledge, see the examples on this site, read the novel Pride & Prejudice, watch the five-part BBC video version of the novel, and study the articles on http://www.prideandprejudice.info/. If you still have questions, send them to us. Read more on inner-outer correspondences.

10. Discover your Complementarity

The complementarity between two people is the true basis of romance and the source of its endless attraction and perpetual mystery. That complementary can exist at different levels and take several different forms. In some it expresses as a similarity or compatibility of temperament. In others it expresses as very different capacities which augment and supplement one another. Or it may manifest as starkly different and apparently opposite tendencies which pull in different directions or even clash with one another. However it may express, the natural complementarity that initially attracts one person to another at an early stage of acquaintance is always based on a deeper truth and a deeper need, which may be overlooked or even regarded as a source of incompatibility. At the level of complementarity there are no good or better qualities, there are only aspects that combine through the relationship to create a greater whole which represents a greater truth. Value judgments have no place here. Becoming conscious of the deeper layers of complementarity between partners is an unending adventure in self-discovery that can release deeper appreciation of the other person and strengthen the bonds of relationship immensely.

The scale of romance is not a fixed and rigid set of cubbyholes in which relationships can be classified. It is rather an ascending stairway of graded levels defining the possibilities for any relationship to rise. Often we find partners fall to a lower level after the initial phase of infatuation is passed. Sometimes we see movement in the other direction, when couples who initially clashed or came together without strong binding feelings later grew to know and love one another deeply, elevating their partnership from lower to higher levels of romantic relationship. In a few rare instances we find partners traversing the entire scale from the lowest to nearly the highest levels. Learn how Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet traversed the entire scale in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

If you would like to raise general questions on romance, love, marriage and relationship or about any of the content in this article, please post your entry in the appropriate forums

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