Fireproof Your Marriage

Over 35 couples joined us at church last weekend for an inaugural adult couples “date night” fellowship. I use the word inaugural because I’m so hopeful that after the night’s success we’ll continue to plan similar evenings.

A member of Pastoral Council organized the event, including paid childcare with teen volunteers. Meanwhile, every attending couple brought an assigned potluck dish. Round tables scattered throughout the Parish Life Center provided us an place to sit and view the movie, Fireproof, with other couples.

When we take our wedding vows we say “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Unfortunately, in the present day, too many couples don’t consider how they will handle the worse.

Caleb is a fire department Captain, responsible for the lives and discipline of his men. Early in the movie we observe him training a rookie, admonishing him that you never leave your partner, especially in a fire. Yet, when faced with a troubling fire consuming his own marriage, Caleb isn’t heeding his own lesson..

Through an early on-screen argument, we learn that Catherine works a regular work week and checks on her elderly parents every weekend. Her mother suffered a stroke last year and they are still adjusting to her physical limitations and needs.

Caleb keeps the traditional 24-on/48-off hours of a firefighter. Catherine sees him as lazy and addicted to “those sites” on the internet (implied to be pornographic). She feels tired all the time, trying to do everything. He feels disrespected when she expects him to help.

It’s clear that Caleb is a good man, as Catherine is a good woman, but something is “off” in the way they treat each other at home. They’ve lost sight of who the other person is, in how they see themselves and each other. They both think of themselves, looking for love from the other person without considering how they are loving the person in return.

They don’t understand, or even consider, the depth and fullness of Love, and just as they are on the verge of separating and dissolving their marriage, Caleb’s father asks him, “…is there anything in you that wants to save your marriage?” When Caleb says he would like to try, his father tells him to hold off on the divorce for 40 days, and he sends him The Love Dare.

I won’t spoil the movie by giving anymore away, but I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire hall when the movie ended. My own tears weren’t of sadness; they were from being so overwhelmed with how real love can touch our lives and those around us.

As my husband and I were leaving the church, I took his hand and told him that I wanted us to be more like the characters at the end of that movie, than the beginning. We’d recognized ourselves in portions of that early argument – as I suspect many couples do – and I didn’t want us to go back there. I want us to have what Caleb & Catherine have at the end of the movie.

My husband said the most powerful scene of the movie for him was in the middle when Catherine exhaustedly told Caleb she didn’t love him, and his (Caleb’s) reaction to the news. For me, it was when Caleb’s father visited to discuss the 40-day process and led Caleb into finally understanding real love, God’s love, and Caleb embraced true faith for the first time. The two scenes are nearly back to back.

When the movie first came out, I bought the book The Love Dare out of curiosity, and though we talked about it, we lacked motivation to start it. However, this week we’ve both been reading from the book daily. Combined with the residual feeling from seeing the movie, we have had the best week. It’s occurred to me that it might be easier if we weren’t sharing a book and going the daily dare’s together. It’s okay to be on different days, applying different dares. And then four days into the week, it dawned on me that the Love Dare doesn’t apply strictly to your spouse, it can also apply to how we treat our children.

If you’ve ever considered watching the movie or finding out more about The Love Dare book, leave a comment under this post by Thursday, August 22. On Friday two people will be randomly chosen to receive a small booklet, Dare to Love: 8 Reasons to Take the Love Dare. Perhaps others will join us in talking about the Love Dare experience.


Shelly Henley Kelly