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Book Review: The Love Dare

Half of all marriages end in divorce.  That means most marriage relationships are either severely dysfunctional or headed that way.  What is the answer?

The Love Dare’s answer is that we don’t really understand how to live out the love that marriage requires.  Inspired by the movie Fireproof, this book is a forty day devotional that covers various aspects of the true sacrificial love which is missing from many marriages.

There is a lot to like about this book.  It clearly explains the nature of mature love & practically challenges you to live it out.  It emphasizes how YOU have to be the one to take responsibility and change, regardless of how your partner does or does not respond, and it shows how the strength for that kind of love is powered by a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  This book has had a powerful impact on thousands of people, and I am very thankful for the truth it teaches.

However, the book does have some shortcomings.  First, the book is unnaturally constrained to fit the plot of the movie.  The movie’s plot confronted the main character with his need for a personal relationship with God mid-way through, and so the book follows suit.  Halfway through the forty days, we suddenly shift to a presentation of how living out sacrificial love should make one realize his absolute need for Christianity.  For Christians reading a book on marriage, the discussion of how our relationship with Christ should structure our marital relationship should be foundational, should be page 1.  On the other hand, a non-Christian reading the book frankly is unlikely to be impressed by this sudden foray into an altar call in the middle of the book.

Second, the book spends little time on the differing roles of the husband and wife in a marriage.  From a Biblical standpoint, there are real & crucial differences in how a man loves & responds to his wife vs. how a woman loves & responds to her husband.  The Love Dare doesn’t address these differing roles which are very important to the success of any Christian marriage.

Third, I felt there was this unwritten “if you do these steps your marriage will be transformed” aura to the book.  While all marriages can benefit from going through this devotional, I think that many seriously troubled marriages will not have the movie’s storybook happy ending at the end of forty days.  Consequently, I fear people will either conclude they failed in some way or that God failed in some way.  Neither would be true.  Many marriages need more than just a good devotional; they need intensive personal intervention by a  person of wisdom such as a counselor or pastor plus two partners who are both committed and humble.  In my experience true humility is seldom found in both halves of a troubled relationship.

The Love Dare is forty days of wisdom and challenge that will benefit any marriage; just don’t consider it to be the complete cure-all for every troubled relationship in the world.

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