“Never leave your partner behind” is the tagline for the newly released movie “Fireproof.” This movie depicts a young married couple experiencing total marital meltdown. While the couple (Catherine and Caleb Holt) are fictional the problems they face are all too common. Furthermore, the way they fight over these problems and how quickly they consider divorce is all too common as well. How their marriage is rescued is the main story in the movie.
Let me set the stage for you. Caleb is a captain in the town fire department. Catherine works in public relations at the local hospital. Married for seven years, they have developed a routine of work and personal pursuits that left little time for each other. Furthermore, they have both allowed their frustrations over unmet expectations to accumulate. Lack of appreciation and respect quickly lead to fights over money and sex. Catherine, who has been dissatisfied for years, says she’s finished and wants a divorce. Caleb responds with shock and anger, apparently unaware that he was so difficult to live with. He thought of himself as a pretty good guy and really can’t fathom how his wife doesn’t love and respect him. Things get worse for Caleb and Catherine before they get better. They remain stubborn and defensive. Caleb refuses to take ownership for his hurtful behavior and Catherine begins an emotional affair with a coworker.
Caleb seeks the wise counsel of his friend and coworker, Lt. Michael Simmons, who is shown in the film as having a committed and passionate marriage. He also receives emotional and spiritual support from his parents, whom we learn have nearly divorced themselves in the past. At one point, Caleb is frustrated and about to give up on reconciling to Catherine. He says “I want peace.” His friend Lt. Simmons says “But Caleb, you want the right kind of peace.” Lt. Simmons continues with a commentary on the state of marriage today stating; “The sad thing is, when most people say ‘for better or for worse’, they only mean for the better.” Caleb, however, is ready to give up because he believes too many problems have ruined a good thing. Using a metaphor from their firefighting work, Caleb says “marriage isn’t fireproof.” Wise and experienced Lt. Simmons responds to this by stating “Fireproof doesn’t mean the fire will never come. It means when the fire comes that you will be able to withstand it.”
Caleb’s father gives him a book which his father says helped save his marriage. This book, called “The Love Dare,” is a 40-day instruction manual for transforming and healing a marriage. The book directs the reader on changing their behavior and also provides biblical teaching about marriage. As Caleb works through this book, he begins to understand that he never really loved his wife, but only expected Catherine to love him. Eventually Caleb’s loving behavior impacts Catherine who says “Caleb, this is not normal for you.” Caleb responds triumphantly “Welcome to the new normal.” She changes her mind about divorce, and their marriage is transformed. Exactly how this is done, I won’t tell you. You’ll have to see the movie yourself.
While the story is fictional, the book “The Love Dare” is a real book that you can get at the bookstore. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is married or is thinking they might get married some day in the future. It is a fact that all marriages face troubles of many kinds. We live in a world of relational fire hazards. A couple must “fireproof” their marriage to withstand these fires when they occur. Each partner must commit to protecting their marriage, and surround themselves with people who support their commitment. When issues arise, stubbornly resolve to outlast them. Intentionally commit to resolving them. Learn what your partner needs from you and promise him or her you will never leave your partner behind.
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