Bridges do not topple because the weight of one load was too heavy and relationships do not fall apart because of one bad day. The foundation of a relationship is built upon mutual trust and understanding, if that foundation is cracked or broken then it is weak and prone to damage. Fireproof, the movie, is about so much more than a failing marriage. It serves as a reminder to each of us that relationships must be intentional and proactive. Often, what we do or say can affect the relationship positively or negatively. Likewise events and situations can have an impact as well. “Events occurring around us as well as the denotation of other individuals’ behavior is often ambiguous, open to many different interpretations” (Stewart, 2012, p. 213). The movie opens with a husband and wife who barely can be in the same room without fighting. Their communication is nearly nonexistent, as they continue a downward spiral it is clear that the relationship is heading towards an end (Fireproof, 2008). Another facet of this movie was self-disclosure. “Self-disclosure is revealing to another person how you perceive and are reacting to the present situation” (Stewart, 2015, p. 211). When we try to hide who we are, what we are doing, or who we are doing things with then we hit a communication stumbling block. In this case, both parties are feeling lonely and disconnected so each reach out to find comfort somewhere, she turns to a comforting friend while he comforts himself with Internet pornography. While neither of them discuss past hurts and present rejection it was clear that this was an underlying issue.
Eventually the husband, Caleb, decides the marriage is worth saving and he sets in motion a plan to reach out to his wife, Catherine. While Catherine is skeptical she is eventually won over as Caleb reaches out despite her objections. But the turning point seems to be when Caleb employs a listening strategy that we have read so much about he begins to really hear Catherine’s heart, perhaps for the first time. He chooses to “listen awhile, talk until the person almost stops hearing and listen until the person calms enough to hear again” (Petersen, 2015, p. 5). This strategy is woven into the fabric of the Love Dare Challenge. Caleb rises to the challenge and renews his live for Catherine and in turn she sees him in a whole new light.
While it is a sweet story with a sappy ending, the truth remains. When we really listen and stop trying to get what we want then beautiful things happen. James 1:9 says “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19, NASB). Relationship take work and can suffer insurmountable damage when one or both partners stop communicating. The message of this movie certainly hits home for many martial relationships but the truth is, all relationships suffer when communication stops.
Kendrick, A. & Kendrick, S. (Producers) & Kendrick, A. (Director). (2008). Fireproof [Motion Picture]. US:Samuel Goldwyn Films and Affirm Films.
Petersen, J. C. (2015). Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships (Revised and Expanded Ed.). Portland, OR: Petersen Publications.
Stewart, J. (2012). Bridges not walls: A book about interpersonal communication (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.