While most days, I am not a big fan of “trendy” Christian books (and by “trendy” I mean the books that tend to float to the top of sales lists, are adopted by major churches as curriculum, and are accompanied by multiple study guides – for adults, singles, children, or teens, etc.), however, in this project year, I have been found to be reading more and more of them (for examples: Love Wins and Radical). Oddly enough, this desire to get caught up in some of the current titles namely is to continue to be relevant and to know a little bit about what lots of people are talking about when it comes to faith and popular thought on Christianity.
This week’s review is of one of those books, the Love Dare, by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. Though I am unsure which came first, the movie Fireproof (starring Kirk Cameron) or the book, the Love Dare, it is safe to say that these are intimately linked.
Also, being a counselor, I was interested in the book as a potential tool in the counseling of couples in the future.
So, not only did I read the book, but I actually completed all but 2 of the tasks (mainly because I was doing the book in “secret” – in that Summer didn’t know I was reading or even completing the dares), over a 40 day period between April and May of this year, ending with the gifting of the book to my wife (with all my journal entries inside it) on our anniversary trip to Colorado at the end of May. Sweet …. yeah, I know it.
Despite my initial doubt about the book (simply because it seemed EVERYBODY loved it, and recommended it to all their friends, with reports that it was literally the “best relationship book ever written”, among other things), I was surprised by its scriptural and good relational psychology grounding … a partnership that is sometimes hard to obtain.
The author does a good job breaking down different aspects of the marriage relationship using the popular biblical passages (sections about love, marriage, cleaving, submission, etc.), but ties those ideas to very practical thoughts and actions.
You see, as a counselor, I am a bigger believer in what you do over what you say or think. Because by what you do, you build habit, routine, and muscle memory, and what you do has an incredible impact on what you think and feel. So any book on relationships that shares with you something to learn … and then tells you to do it, is good in my book.
To be honest, completing the book was fun! It reminded me sometimes of the little things that I used to do all the time to show love and appreciation to my wife, but that had been lost in the hustle and bustle of every day life, and that had been in some ways lost in the (albeit brief, so far) length of our marriage. Some of the tasks were simple and easy, and others were complex and took a degree of relational “risk”, asking the reader to expose a vulnerability, place the spouse ahead of themselves, or sacrifice something that they value for the sake of the relationship.
Also, this book does a great job of dealing with relational issues fluidly blending aspects of male and female approaches with marriage without this male reader thinking it was “all about women”. Reading through it, it was apparent that it would be an effective read for both men and women, and didn’t really lean or show a preference for one gender or another.
Overall, I would recommend it. Though I don’t think it’s the “best relationship book ever”, I do think it does a good job of taking sometimes complex issues with relationships, and distilling them down to specific actions to take to improve the relationship.