I recently saw the movie “Fireproof”, staring Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea. This G-rated movie is more than a great movie for a date night. It is a movie that may help fireproof your marriage and is based upon the best-selling author and marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Smalley. Even if your not married, it may fireproof your life (Rom. 10:9). What is gleaned from this movie is harvested in your relationship with your spouse or significant other. Now no marriage is completely fireproof. There are times when you must get out of an unsafe relationship or marriage so no marriage can be said to be completely 100% fireproof but there are significant principles that can be gleaned from this movie that will strengthen many marriages.
The greatest thing about this movie was that most couples that are married are in cruise control. No one is touching the accelerator nor is anyone touching the brakes. Nothing in the rear view mirror is noticed, only that which is directly in front of both the driver and the passenger. There is only a tunnel vision effect in many relations. Like a horse with blinders, the life giving distractions are not even noticed.
Like getting up in the morning, no gives a second thought that their car will start. They take for granted the car will start, morning after morning. Yet, with on going neglect, the car slowly begins to fail before it finally breaks down. The effects of neglecting maintenance produces an affect with both driver and passenger. One than can literally break down the transportation that we live and work and play by. And one that we may ultimately take for granted.
The same thing happens to marriage or relationships. Just like a jetliner that is on autopilot, everything looks good-to-go but autopilots are only good for a limited time before a real emergency will happen; like running out of fuel. Then a surprise nose dive, then eventually a crash landing. When I take my wife for granted, and all the things that she does for me and the family, then I am investing nothing. I am only selfishly expecting that my needs will be met, and angry when things don’t go as planned. It becomes, what can I get out of this, rather than what can I do to maintenance this family unit. This sense of pride comes just before a fall. Any what a great fall it can be.
The couple in the movie were only concerned with what they could get out of the marriage, like it was a bottomless pit; an endless supply, without the recognition that without a constant re-supply, the well runs dry. Caleb, a Captain with the fire department, and the husband, is superbly played by Kirk Cameron. For Caleb, its all about what he can get out of the marriage. He demands respect while showing his wife none, who is played brilliantly by Erin Bethea. He’s great at fire rescue. He risks his life, almost daily to save the life of strangers, but he does nothing to rescue his own failing marriage. Yet his marriage, like a three-alarm fire, is going down in smoke. This will be greater than any fire rescue he has ever done in his life.
There is a stage when all looks hopeless and all his super-human efforts, provided in counseling sessions by his father, seem to be having no effect. It is not until he finally becomes desperate and can turn to no one else but to God. For there is no rescue that is humanly possible anymore. It will take a miracle. And that is just what he gets; in the form of a life turned over to Christ. When his back is against the wall, and nothing he does or says helps, but in fact in seems to make the fire escalate, he can only turn to prayer in desperation. But the lesson here may be that his marriage is worth saving. It is worth any sacrifice. And he turns to the only One that can divinely intervene. That is God through prayer.
I should add that even asbestos burns at a certain temperature and there is a time to jump out of a burning house fire if one needs to save their own life. I don't mean to insinuate that every marriage is indestructible, for nothing human ever is (save our relationship to Jesus [John 10:28-29]).
Marriage is almost like a miracle in itself. The differences between men and women make for some interesting clashes. What he says, she may take differently. What she does for him, may be interpreted by him mistakenly. The real truth is that marriage takes hard work. It is a labor of love if there ever was one. It is not how much you can get out of a marriage, but how much you can invest into one that makes it work. It is definitely not a 50-50 deal or a line in the sand. It is more a sacrificial or investing of yourself to help your mate. And it is not investing to get, but investing to give.
When I do the dishes, or take out the trash, or fix that stupid bathroom door handle that jams all the time, it doesn’t say, check this off and that off the honey-do list for my wife. Much more than that, it says, and louder than words can say, “I love you“. I want to do things for her and my actions speak louder than my words ever do. This is not to say that I don’t tell here often and absolutely every day that, “I love you”. This is important too, but talk is cheap and action speaks louder than words. In fact, actions shout louder than my words do that “I love you so much darling”. This is not just the short, “luv ya’, but a warm, fuzzy, wrap around hug and embrace, that says “I care for you, I want to serve you, I want to do things for you”. Believe me, a married man, that this does work. Love is doing. Love is a verb…not a noun.
To better understand how to invest in your marriage or relationship, and how “love is a verb”, I highly recommend Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages”. If you are married and it is or isn’t going well, then ask for God to show you how or what you can do to invest in it. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Before its too late, be there for your mate or significant other. And extinguish the relational firestorm and replace it with the warm, glowing embers of a heart-warming fire, one that can help a couple endure a long, hard, and cold winter’s night.