Couples reconnect and work to 'fireproof' their marriages
June 6, 2009
<b><i>A six-week Bible study program challenged 14 couples to improve personal relationships </i></b>
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Nearly 25 years after saying the words "I do" in a South Carolina church, Libby Bryant found herself inside a theater complex on Oahu, recently, watching the inspirational, gospel-centered movie "Fireproof" when she unexpectedly had an epiphany about her marriage.
She realized she really needed to work harder at it. And so she mobilized.
With the blessing of her husband, Chief Warrant Officer George Bryant, 311th Signal Command (Theater), she enrolled in the free six-week Bible-study course, "Fireproof Your Marriage," held earlier this spring at the Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR) Chapel.
There, the couple, along with 14 other married couples, took on a 40-day challenge to improve their relationships through Scripture study, performing good deeds for each other, and discussing clips from the movie, "Fireproof."
When the course was over, Libby Bryant expressed an appreciation for the lessons learned that have, in her estimation, been nothing short of a marital miracle.
"From these classes, I found that what men really want is respect. It's their number one need," explained the kindergarten teacher at Samuel K. Solomon Elementary School, Schofield Barracks, who will be celebrating a quarter century of marriage in July. "And the woman's basic needs are to be loved and protected.
"You know, it's not like we were doing such a bad job with our marriage before," added Bryant, whose union with George has produced a daughter, 15-year-old Donna Marie. "But (the course) has made everything a little bit sweeter."
According to Chaplain (Capt.) Douglas Weaver, U.S. Army-Pacific Special Troops Battalion chaplain, the course was founded on Biblical principles for strong, God-centered marriages. Couples would meet once a week during Sunday school, where they were encouraged to work through problematic relational issues and recommit to their spouses.
"We would discuss things such as real love, or unconditional love," Weaver explained. "Yes, love can be romantic and emotional at times. But true love occurs when there is self-sacrifice. Only then will it last.
"In most marriages, it's not if the fire comes - it's when," he added. "So we're trying to teach them to be prepared."
Another course participant, Cpl. James Williams, 307th Integrated Theater Signal Battalion, confessed that after three years of marriage, he and wife Stephanie needed to reconnect.
Part of his problem, he admitted, was a tendency to focus heavily on the negative aspects of their relationship rather than on "all the good things my wife does for me."
"We would talk in class about things like love, and trust and communication. If you don't talk to your spouse, everything will crumble around you," said Williams, 20, who began dating Stephanie while in tenth grade at Tallwood High School, Virginia Beach, Va. "And I would read (the course study book) and everything would start making sense to me."
Upon completing the course, the Williams' family, which includes 3-year-old daughter Kristiana Rose, and several other couples, traveled to Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, where they participated in a marriage vow-renewal ceremony, officiated by Weaver and Chaplain (Capt.) Timothy Wilson.
The ceremony, made possible through a $3,900 grant from the U.S. Army's Chief of the Chaplain's Office, took place inside the resort's glass chapel, overlooking the oceanfront property.
Floral decorations added a rainbow of colors to the chapel's predominantly white interior, and were provided by Meri-Mine Clark, family readiness support assistant.
"When we got to renew our vows, it meant a whole lot more to me," Williams said. "It was like a new beginning, a new life, something that's unbreakable. Now, we're finally on the same page."
Weaver said there's a strong possibility that another 6-week course will be conducted in the fall.
For more information about the "Fireproof Your Marriage" chapel program and upcoming fall session, contact Kathy Whalen, director of Religious Education, South Community Chapels, at 808-839-4319.