This is one of those posts I don’t exactly know where to start, so much here to go over. I’ll go over a little personal background and thoughts on marriage, then get into a brief plot summary and then get into my thoughts on the good and bad of the movie. The movie in discussion is a 2008 (yeah I know, always late to the party) Christian drama called Fireproof with Kirk Cameron, you can find it on Netflix, about a fireman and his working wife who are struggling in marriage and about to divorce.
Regular readers will know I’m not a Christian. They may not know that I was raised Catholic and even confirmed in the church (a sacrament in the church, one that further binds those to spread and defend the faith). So while I’m not still in that same mindset, I am still a moral man and strongly believe in love, reconciliation and forgiveness as key foundational principals in living a righteous life. We should not hold ourselves or our enemies as static individuals, but allow us and them the ability to make improvements in their life, ask for forgiveness for past wrong doings and if genuine, forgive that individual for their actions. Now in principle, this is easier said than done since some wrongdoings are irreparable (I feel adultery is one for example).
Now since this movie Fireproof deals entirely with a couple’s marriage, I will give some of my thoughts on marriage. As one might expect, they are a little complex and certainly not black and white.
- I believe people want and need companionship to be happy and to fulfill something in their own being. This companionship is most often fulfilled with a loving partner.
- Biologically, if left without the social construct that has been assembled around us for centuries, humans aren’t intended to be monogamous. Men are biologically designed to spread their genetic code far and wide, and women are designed to accept the highest value genetic code that allows their offspring to succeed so a partner with resources is a good thing until the kids are less fragile. Nothing in there about monogamy, at least biologically.
- With that said, I also strongly believe we can pairbond for life and in today’s economic society, it is advantageous to do so. Sharing resources is usually a sound strategy in many ways, and when factoring offspring, a long-term pairbonded couple provides a lot of social benefits as well.
- For single people, especially single men, I’m not sure in today’s environment getting married is always a risk worth taking. If you are able to vet your partner, start young(ish) and note other factors that contribute you may stand a better chance. Taking the Red Pill and understanding intergender dynamics, how hormones and neurotransmitters and lizard brain play a part in relationships along with other key factors out of your control, you increase your chance of success. If you’re a regular dude or chick who doesn’t know about this stuff, or care to learn, you’re probably better off staying single (especially guys, as we’re the ones most likely to get financially and emotionally butt-hurt from a wife who divorces, especially with kids involved).
- For couples who are married with children, I am usually strongly in favor of trying to figure out what is wrong and grow a loving environment in which to raise future members of society. It takes effort to go back on past trust and anger issues, but usually (not always) kids are better off with a two parent household. With that said, if you have a poisoned partner, it is sometimes better to get out and be happy, regardless of costs involved.
- If you are married without kids, you fall in that middle category that gets complicated. The Fireproof movie I’m about to talk about falls in there. Without the religious factor, I will acknowledge it is easier to cut bait and start fresh when things get rough. However, as I told my wife, even when things get shitty, I said gave my word that we’d stay together, in sickness and health and richer or poorer. If both husbands and wives honored their vows and really try to make it work, they likely will. If one spouse (or both) don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves, they shouldn’t be married now or ever. Marriage is a partnership, whether with kids or not, built on love, trust and mutual respect and understanding. Period. If you can’t have that, enjoy being single (and your baker’s dozen cats).
So onto the movie plot. Fireman is angry about being unappreciated by wife of I think 7 years(??). Working wife has negative attitude about having to do “all” the work in the house. Husband has saved money and wants a fancy boat. Wife wants husband around more and to help more, cares less about boat. No kids. Husband has porn addiction. Picking a fight after work one day, wife responds in kind, husband blows up and gets very angry and aggressive (no hitting or touching) basically begging for divorce, wife says she wants out. She starts procedings and paperwork to make divorce happen. Husband talks to trusted mentor/adviser: his dad. Dad says he too nearly divorced, but used this 40 day “Love Dare” method to get through this period and wants his fireman son to give it a try, son reluctantly agrees. Son changes way of thinking after just going through the movements early, but still, the Love Dare doesn’t really work at all. They are destined for divorce, wife doesn’t really put in any effort but surprise, surprise, they pull it out at the last minute. [and scene]
What I liked about the movie was how Kirk Cameron took it upon himself to improve and let go of hate and anger by allowing love back into his life. Now he started out doing it for somewhat selfish reasons (to get back his wife) and really gave a half-assed effort. But later, in his way he let go of the poison and replaced it with love. Now the movie focuses on God and Jesus who gave him the strength to make these changes inside him, which is fine. Religion is great and helps many people, but finding strength of conviction in other ways is ok too.
Some of the Love Dare items aren’t proprietary to Christians though. For example, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now describes silencing the ego and the negative thoughts and not retaliating against those who challenge the ego. Kirk Cameron stays silent while his ego is attacked, which was the lesson of Day 1 of his 40 day journey (not a coincidence in this movie, as 40 is a common number noted throughout the Bible). He’s then to use small gestures and large gestures to show he is committed to making the marriage work. He bashes his computer (really?) because he couldn’t handle on-line porn and couldn’t control himself. He doesn’t get his boat, instead spending it in ways to show how selfless he was. He improves as a man.
On the flip side, the wife, fed up with years of mistreatment and being unappreciated herself, has closed up shop. With the “doesn’t appreciate him” lines, I’m guessing that means both literally (married people do tend to take each other’s contributions for granted, I’ll give you that) and figuratively (closed the vagina shop too). That also means she’s opened up shop with the doctor in the hospital where she works. She begins flirting with him, he reciprocates and they are well on their way to an emotional, if not physical affair. If Dr. was a little faster on the draw, I’m sure it would have happened in that 40 day window.
I’ve heard this movie is/was a huge hit for Christian wives, and why not? Apparently all the unhappiness in the marriage is the husband’s fault and if only he would improve, their life would be perfect. In no way did they imply that the wife shared any of the responsibility for the state of the marriage. They painted her as selfless for working so they could have a nice house and things. He was the one who had to change. She was perfect just the way she was. Except for one scene where an older co-worker tiptoes around the fact she’s fishing in poisoned waters with Mr. Doctor Stud, other than that most of her friends feel she’s justified in leaving and it’s all his fault.
A few other random thoughts. How the heck did they never see each other in their house that they both lived in during the 40 days? He had two days off for every one on, eventually they’d run into each other, right? I spent about 8 hours doing firefighting training last fall and while not super realistic, I did enjoy the action scenes.
Without debating the movie further, which was trash despite it making something like $60 million and being a Christian favorite, there are a few things we men can take away, though they are the same things we expound upon in the sphere every day. Find happiness in yourself. Don’t let your marriage spiral down – pay attention to avoid the slide. Appreciate and love your spouse and communicate that with them. Being cocky and funny like Doctor Alpha will get you far, and being angry and aggressive (like husband early on) is poisonous.
The movie promotes a dangerous message to both women and men (it’s the husband’s fault; threaten divorce to get him to change; all he has to do is supplicate himself entirely and give up his favorite goals [in this case a boat] and put you on a pedestal and you can live happily ever after). It promotes the creation of yet more beta chumps who lick their wives boots, which in turn creates the noise: “Vaclamp” as she couldn’t be any less turned on by that behavior. Having a Godly marriage or a strong marriage however you want to live it are noble goals. The way this movie tried to promote that was just plain wrong. It’s a fairy tale princess movie for grown up women in the same vein as Eat, Pray, Love.
A more real movie about marriage and the trials of family life is This is 40, despite mostly unlikable characters. That movie further illustrates how being the Captain of your family is the best way to structure your relationship (moreso as a study in contrast, as Paul Rudd in “40” is the anti-Captain). At least the wife is flawed too. After watching Fireproof, think of this as a pallet cleanser before watching something actually good.