The Love Dare, a dangerous book in the hands of an abuser — by Deborah

We want to thank Deborah for her willingness to share another part of her story with us….


Anybody heard of The Love Dare [by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick.]? If you have seen the movie Fireproof [Internet Archive link]1, you will know that The Love Dare is a book given to the main character of the movie, to use as a last ditch effort to save his dying marriage. It’s a 40-day challenge that has him doing tons of things to romance his wife and try to bring back love into his marriage.

The book itself is real — and popularly used as a relationship tool in many Christian marriages. The premise of it is to change your heart attitude toward your partner and to learn to value them above yourself. Sounds great, huh? I guess for marriages whose worst problem is whether they should have another baby or not, it is, but for those of us who have been in abusive marriages, this book is nothing more than another nightmarish and twisted tool in the abuser’s arsenal.

I know. I had to live it.

My abuser did some of his worst emotional and psychological abuse at the same time he was using The Love Dare on me. It was near the end of our 17 year relationship, and I think he knew it was already over when he decided to try it. He just thought he could use this as a way of being able to say in the aftermath of our divorce, “Well, I tried everything I could to save the marriage and she just wasn’t willing to work at it.” And that is exactly what he did too. It’s what he says now, to anyone who will listen. He holds it up as a trophy of how noble and wonderful he is, and uses it to bash my reputation over the head, again and again.

The sick thing about it all was that he was sending me flowers, love notes, making me dinner, and following all of the rest of the prescriptions in that book that were supposed to magically make the relationship better, while at the same time, he was berating me for not doing the same thing for him. When he was done, he told me not to read the book (it has places to write notes, as you are going through the process, about how you are feeling while doing the dare, and how the other person is responding to what you are doing for them), and said I may find some of it hard to read. Then three days later, he yelled at me for not having read it and for not buying my own copy to do for him.

I must not love him as much as he loves me if I hadn’t even looked at it, even though he had specifically warned me not to when he gave it to me. He constantly made me feel indebted to him through the process. “Well, look what I am doing for you.” “You aren’t giving your 100% like I am.”, and it went on and on….

The Love Dare puts even more power and control into the abuser’s hands, and as a bonus, it conveniently sets them up to appear as “The one who is trying.” in the relationship. Oh, how they love this. With this tool in their box, it’s play time for the manipulative abuser. They get to maintain control of you, make you feel guilty and indebted to them and appear wonderful to everyone around them, all at the same time.

I was so emotionally beaten down by the point in my marriage that The Love Dare was used, that I had already been disassociating and losing chunks of daily life, just to survive. The additional confusion added to my brain at the introduction of this book just overloaded my system and I literally, completely shut down. In shutting down, I looked cold and uncaring. I wasn’t. I was just too hurt, too confused and too scared to function anymore. My brain had had enough and it was checking out, in order to protect the rest of me.

I had gone from him casually telling me a year before this, that he didn’t love me anymore, to him picking up this The Love Dare book and essentially telling me, “I dare you to love me.” It was crazy-making par excellence.

So not only was I still being abused daily, which I was just barely starting to understand fully, but then here comes this curve ball, aimed to smash to pieces what little sanity I had left, by making me feel completely in debt to my abuser for the “nice” things he was also doing for me. These were supposed to cover all of the many abuses of the past, and yes, the present ones too. Any abuse didn’t count any more. He had full amnesty, because I got flowers and dinner and a date and he suffered through one of my “boring” movies, which were all prescribed by some book that my abuser used to cover his abuse, shut me up about it all and prove to everyone around him that I was cold, sick and completely insane.

Well, it worked. It must have, because that’s how I looked to everyone around us for at least the first year, post-divorce. Oh did my abuser ever sink his teeth into that….like a dog who has just been given a giant T-bone steak to devour.

And now to the reason I speak out against this magic-elixir-for-every-problem-in-a-marriage-book: I ask you to please see in my story, the snake oil that it can be, in the wrong hands.

If you are suffering in abuse and are considering using The Love Dare or if you are a pastor or counselor, considering recommending it, please, please stay far away from it when dealing with abusive marriages. You will only make things far worse for the victim than they ever were before. I would recommend that this little marriage-fixer-upper be left to couples who are not abusive with one another and who are both willing to work on their marriage issues, and let it be black-listed, along with mediation and couple’s counseling, for those marriages affected by abuse.

1[April 11, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the movie Fireproof, a Christian movie directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Stephen Kendrick. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[April 11, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to April 11, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to April 11, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to April 11, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 11, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Deborah’s story — By Deborah.

Triggers due to trauma — By Deborah.

My own private Dexter — By Deborah.

109 thoughts on “The Love Dare, a dangerous book in the hands of an abuser — by Deborah”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I was just thinking about this the other day. In my previous abusive marriage, my ex-husband didn’t try “The Love Dare” book on me, but I tried it on him. It was a disaster. I never finished the book, because his abuse only continued to escalate. Then, he constantly threw it in my face that I treated our marriage with the same “lack of care” as I did “The Love Dare” book. I completely agree that this book is a disaster for abusive marriages, and one to stay far, far away from.

  2. Oh my goodness! You are not alone!!! My husband and I watched the movie, got the DVD and couple’s kit, the book plus the daily meditation. We began reading the daily meditation every morning, my husband read it and relished in emphasizing the areas that I was delinquent in….he used it as a club, another weapon in his arsenal to further destroy me….yes, indeed, “The Love Dare” is dangerous in the hands of abusers….

  3. Yes, my ex used it the same way, but thankfully, I was already living separate and apart, so he couldn’t torture me, too, except through email.

  4. I am not so sure this type of book should be used by anyone, especially abusers. I didn’t read the book, but can imagine it’s impact. X didn’t read any books ever. I’m not sure he actualy read one in school. The sports page was about it. He managed to make me feel like I was cold, not trying, insane without a book. But having it put in your face in black and white….and still there is the double-speak. “I am doing this all for you, but I’m going to beat you down with it.”

    I read “The Respect Dare” right after reading John Piper’s book “This Momentary Marriage” during the final 3+ years of marriage. I had agreed to stay and try one last time after he begged and cried for me to stay, saying he was sorry and that he never loved anyone like he did me, for 3 solid weeks. When I finally did leave I gave no warning so this would not happen again.

    I do not recommend either of those books. “The Respect Dare” is on my “burn the book” list. Even for people who are not in abusive marriages. I remember one of the chapters had a dedication to a young wife who’s husband wasn’t overly responsible with money and she was being held in high esteem for her efforts to respect him by giving him the check book and allowed him to pay the bills. More than one month their power was turned off due to his neglect. As I remember it, there were small children and now no heat. Personally, I hold them both responsible and if I had been there and known the circumstances “Child Protective Services” would have been called for neglect of the children. Even during this “I have to try everything” phase, this book was repulsive.

    You have to be very carful what you read and what an abusive spouse gets their hands on. For me, if X read books, all of these would have been potentially dangerous. I was fortunate that I could read anything and it not be questioned. I was also fortunate after these books to find Leslie Vernick’s books and then ACFJ and the books by Barb and Jeff C. And now freedom and most days sane.

    1. I remember one of the chapters had a dedication to a young wife who’s husband wasn’t overly responsible with money and she was being held in high esteem for her efforts to respect him by giving him the check book and allowed him to pay the bills. More than one month their power was turned off due to his neglect. As I remember it, there were small children and now no heat.

      So, let me get this straight. You are supposed to respect your husband by showing disdain for the laws of sowing and reaping?

    2. Brenda, I think we were married to the same man (“Sportscenter” was on all. the. time.)
      I feel blessed that I didn’t have a really smart abuser who liked to read…. We got kinda lucky, as it were. :/ (Not that anyone is going to congratulate us on the good fortune. Lol.)

      1. Katy, there wouldn’t be good fortune in having a millionaire with a doctorate who enjoys piano concerto’s, takes you traveling around the world, or spoils you with diamonds and pearls if he is an abuser. But I was rather happy to have X staring at “Fox Sports Detroit” instead of paying any attention to what I was reading. Many of the books I was reading helped me gain the strength to leave.

      2. I know right. I hid Lundy Bancroft’s book under my mattress and read it while he was plastered to “ESPN” [Entertainment and Sports Programming Network]. 😉

  5. True. True. True.

    My ex wanted us to try “The Love Dare” program too. But I resisted. I knew it was not meant for our marriage. But one of the first things he told our new counselor was that he was willing but I was not. Wisely, the counselor responded that he didn’t really go along with such prescriptions, but only used the Bible in counselling sessions.

    I’m sure my ex could tell people that he was willing but I was not. And yes, I’m certain they saw me as “rebellious”. As usual, they had no idea of our past history and were all too sympathetic to the man.

    “The Love Dare” is to be used carefully and between a couple who have had some bumps in the road. Never never never in abusive marriages.

  6. I had the same thing happen just before I finally left my very abusive husband of 26 years, but the book that he used against me was Ted Tripp’s book “War of Words”, (assigned for us to read and work through by a Nouthetic counselor — it was a terrible mistake to go to him, but that’s another story). Actually a pretty good book, for someone in a “normal” marriage. Absolutely uncanny how my husband used that book just as Deborah’s ex-husband did. Just reading her account made me feel sick.

  7. Had the same thing happen to me. We are still in the midst of separation / divorce. His emails say that he wants to reconcile, all the while denying us funds to survive. He is the only one trying to make it work. Can’t understand why the kids don’t want a relationship with him”, when he has called me every name in the book in front of them and then takes me out to dinner or brings me flowers. Yes, this book is unfortunately a twisted tool to an abuser.

  8. Very good post. I remember sitting in the dark theater watching this movie with my now ex-husband. By that time, I lived 19 years with that abusive man and watching that movie made me want to throw up. We never did get the book, but I looked through it when it came out and felt the same as you wrote….it would not “fix” my marriage and it just made my skin crawl when the church I attended at the time started touting it as this wonderful fix-all marriage book. Yeah, if only it were that simple.

    Although we never even tried using that book, after my ex left in ’09, one year after the movie came out, he told everyone that would lend him an ear how I “just wanted a divorce and was not interested in reconciliation.” I was “such a bad Christian wife.” “Look how cold she is”, “how crazy she is”, “how depressed she is”….

    I’m so grateful to this day to have celebrated my two year wedding anniversary with an amazing, loving, caring man. I never knew what a healthy, normal marriage was….now I do and now I see clearly just how destructive and unhealthy my first marriage was and that it was not because of me.

    1. What a blessing to have two years with a good man! God is faithful.

      I saw the movie with my husband at that time, who had been unfaithful in the past. I was not surprised when the father admitted to his son that he had been the problem in the marriage all along. The son had been blaming his mother. It was a dead ringer for my situation. A long suffering wife, looking like the bad guy. But that was not an abusive marriage. I recall how I wanted my husband to tell the children that I had been the one who held our family together. Instead he vomited his sins all over our family one day, and made me out to be “the unforgiving wife who wanted out”. It took the real truth to come out a year later before my children saw what he had done.

      The divorce finally arrived, after much going back to reconcile. Now, my husband of just over a year loves me and I am learning what real love and a godly marriage is like. And my children love him and are happy for me.

      1. Isn’t it wonderful to get a second chance to see what a true Godly marriage is?

        My ex was so manipulative that he could [get] anyone and everyone to believe his lies about me, including our sons. It took a couple years for them, well at least my youngest (18) to truly see his father’s true colors, but they believed I was the cause of the divorce and that I just walked away and didn’t try to make it work. Now they know the truth and they too, like my new husband and are happy that I am truly happy.

  9. THANK YOU so much for this post. I could not agree more!! I watched a close female relative of mine use this book to try to work on her part in an abusive marriage. Her abusive / narcissist husband told her that he was deliberately not responding to the things she was doing for him. He also flat out told her that he knew she would fail and would never make it to the 40 day mark. It was like torture for her. At that time, she was so emotionally battered she could not see how damaged she was in this miserable marriage. She truly believed if she could do all the right things that God would turn his heart back toward her. They are now (thankfully) divorced. It was torture for us as family members to see how he treated her during the over 25+ year marriage and the almost 2 year divorce process.

    Oh, and yes, he also claims to be a Christian covered by God’s grace while telling her that she is the biggest religious hypocrite he’s ever known. Very, very toxic. A counselor I conferred with explained that the only healthy alternative a victim like her has is to leave. She is s-l-o-w-l-y beginning to heal, and for the first time in years, I’m hearing the sound of joy in her voice when we talk over the phone.

    1. How wonderful that she is now healing, Princess Haz. And good on you and your family for sticking with her through all the tough times. Concerned family members who watch their loved one being abused have a very hard road to walk, one with many potholes, bumps, inexplicable holdups and delays. Congratulations for lasting the journey!

      1. Thank you for that affirmation, Barbara! You are right — it’s been a long & arduous road, but here’s a sampling of what we’ve learned along the way….

        1) Awareness of different types of abuse.
        2) How to protect ourselves from abusers & their allies; yes, even in the church.
        3) How to interact with an abusive type, if & when required.
        4) Studying what God has to say about abuse (this blog has been VERY helpful!).
        5) How to listen and respond to someone who is a victim.
        6) How to help a loved one navigate the very tricky divorce process, especially with child custody issues.
        7) How to admit our own vulnerabilities & take care of ourselves as caregivers.
        8) How to ask family, friends, and professionals for help and not feel guilty about it.
        9) How to recognize reactive emotions and process anger in a healthier way.
        10) How to celebrate what is good & lovely in the middle of dark times.
        11) Awareness & practice of healthy grief and lament during times of great loss & pain.
        12) Recognizing & savoring what is beautiful & good in our everyday lives.

        Above all, I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness in giving much comfort & wisdom! He has truly been a “lamp to my feet & a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).

  10. I wish these books would have a disclaimer at the start: “This book is for Normals. You probably need cops & good attorney instead.”

    I was laughing over a Valentine’s Day marriage seminar that a local church put on, because the syllabus was about “understanding your differences” and “managing your disappointment”. Lolz! Fun times! 😛 I can only imagine the hell that would be for a victim!

  11. I hear you. It was “The Five Love Languages” that didn’t help me. It just gave my abuser a “to do” list and then he berated me about it. “You shouldn’t need words of affirmation. That’s egotistical!” or “You should know how I feel about you. I shouldn’t have to tell you.” I agree, these useful tools for a marriage “stuck in a rut” are destructive when used in an abusive marriage. I’m glad you are free.

  12. Oh goodness, we have two copies of “The Love Dare”!! I only made it to day one before I stuck it under the bed and never opened it again. That and the intimacy book by Doug Weiss, where you contract with your spouse to share feelings in a safe way. I think it would be a great book for non-abusive marriages but when you share and your spouse screams at you about what you share it doesn’t work so great. And then when you break your contract by not doing the exercises anymore you get screamed at even more.

    For me these books are like a script in a play but if they are just reading the words and there is no caring heart behind it, it feels worse than if they didn’t act the part at all. If they just said “I don’t actually know how to love and this is all our relationship will ever be” it would be so much less destructive. When they are telling you that the evil they do is love and guilt-tripping you about not pretending with them it really messes up your soul.

  13. Wow, this must have been very difficult for you to retell this story, but thank you for validating the experience of so many.

    My “favorite” part of the movie was the husband ending his porn addiction by beating up his computer with a baseball bat. I feel that grotesque over-simplification of an embedded behavior has done a lot of harm. How many have convinced themselves that they have solved their sexual addiction this way, instead of doing the work required to understand and overcome it? It is like an alcoholic pouring their booze down the drain and thinking that they are now addiction-free. It just leads to failure and shame and more pain in a marriage relationship.

  14. It is amazing how many times we find that participants in this blog have experienced similar things in their journeys. It is no surprise that this book has been an enabler for continuing or even escalating abuse. There are no quick fixes for this. Abusers don’t change.

  15. That is the problem with all these inspirational movies that offer a quick fix for any and all problems. Yes, this book does help in some circumstances and the movie that was based upon it has some redeeming qualities, but it is not a panacea and must be used with discretion.

    When my wife and I were first told of my daughter’s impending divorce, we instinctively and naively tried to push this “cure” on her, only to find out that this had been one of the biggest bats used by her evil abuser to beat her down. I had inadvertently added to her pain and suffering. I stopped recommending this book at all because of this.

    1. When my wife and I were first told of my daughter’s impending divorce, we instinctively and naively tried to push this “cure” on her, only to find out that this had been one of the biggest bats used by her evil abuser to beat her down. I had inadvertently added to her pain and suffering.

      I think most of us who are learning how to support victims of abuse can relate to your story, Wendell. I have my own story of “How I Got It Wrong Big Time” with a victim of abuse. Thankfully, when I confessed my idiocy years later, she forgave me with open arms.

      How good it is that you saw your error, and that your relationship with your daughter has survived that painful episode.

  16. While some books mentioned on this blog are downright dismissive of abuse and enabling of abusers, it seems like “The Love Dare” is in a different category — a book that is not necessarily negative in itself, but can become destructive in the hands of an abuser. Kind of like couple’s counseling, or weekend marriage retreats.

    It emphasizes the importance of pastors and counselors recognizing whether someone is having “normal” marital difficulties or is in an abusive relationship. Because the books that might help one couple might harm another.

  17. I have been given this book by at least two people. I have also been given the DVD. I have not read or watched them. I think people who give this book out want to help but they don’t realize that it is a tool that can be used to further hammer a victim. I think also that abusers use it to say “See, I’m really trying and she won’t get on board.”

    Just the other day I was [at] a Christmas coffee and a friend asked me how things are going for me and she asked what’s going on with me and my husband. I rather flippantly said “I’m over it” and I nervously laughed. She asked me what I think God is saying to me and I stated “God has said to me “Cease your striving.”” I told her that I will be filing for divorce in the near future. She appeared a little shocked and perhaps a little offended. Note in the margin that she knows full well how long I have struggled, the years of marital and individual counseling, etc. She is the leader of the “Restorative Prayer Ministry” at my church and I even went to her for prayer about 1 year prior to my deciding to leave my marriage. Anyway, the shocker came when she said to me that she senses that my estranged husband is really broken and there is a softness to him now (!). I asked her what made her think he has “softened” and she said that the other day my husband called her husband to congratulate him about a football game….{blank stare}. I stated that he has not extended any of that softness to me and she said “Well, I sense there is still so much bitterness….” What I internalized was, “Karen, if you weren’t such a b*****, perhaps he WOULD reach out to you.” This person’s standards (and others like her) are so low as to what real repentance looks like.

    One thing I appreciate about the “12-Step Program” is that step 9 says “Made direct AMENDS to such people (those we have harmed) except when to do so would injure them or others.” Pretty basic. An abuser doesn’t need “The Love Dare”, any other book or even a technique. He needs to admit, repent, make amends and perhaps use his experience to help others. If I burn your house down I can’t blame you for the fact that I burned it down. I can’t say “Well, I only burned it down because you frustrated me.” Or “I burned it down because you wouldn’t listen to me”, “I burned it down because I was drunk”, or “I grew up in a burned-down house so that’s what I’m used to”, or any other such nonsense. A repentant person would admit he burned it down, ask you how having a burned-down house impacted you, and ask “what can I do to make it right.” He wouldn’t obligate the victim to help him rebuild the burned-down house. He wouldn’t accuse the victim of being hard-hearted for not wanting to be in a relationship with an arsonist. No, he would admit, repent, repair and accept your boundary!

    That’s what these “on-lookers” (those who distribute these books) don’t get. For those of us in abusive relationships, the help provided in “The Love Dare” doesn’t fit our situation because that book is not speaking to the entitled and disordered personality type.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1. KarenR….wow, I too got told that I was giving up too soon because my lay counselor thought she saw the abuser “softening”. And when I did not agree I was accused of “bitterness”. Just because we are no longer blind and can see his manipulation does not make us bitter!! And I love your description of the burned house!!

  18. I have never read “The Love Dare”, nor do I care to. I did see the movie “Fireproof”, though.

    What I find amazing is how in the movie when Caleb was using “The Love Dare” to accomplish his own purposes (which is ironically antithetical to love) he got nowhere at all. Katherine let him have it but good, and rightly so. It was not until Caleb got saved and genuinely repented of his evil ways that anything real actually began to happen. It was not “The Love Dare” but the God of love in Caleb’s heart that made the difference.

    But the Christian community, being what it is, faithfully and reliably misses the point and does so with perfect accuracy. They think “The Love Dare” or some other similar program will fix things and completely disregard God, or worse, subsume God to the book as though God were just waiting for you to start doing “The” (Blessed) “Love Dare” and then He can and will! work in your marriage. Don’t delay! Start today!

    Good grief. 😦

    1. Anyway, the shocker came when she said to me that she senses that my estranged husband is really broken and there is a softness to him now (!).

      Tell her if that’s the case, maybe he should be directing his newfound softness toward his victims, rather than his football buddy. If she’s the leader of the church’s “Restorative Prayer Ministry” she needs to get some discernment. Like, yesterday.

  19. I have “The Love Dare for Couples Devotional” on my nightstand. “365 days of reading for your own personal hell.” I endured incessant abuse over all the things I had done wrong in my marriage every night after the “devotional”, and if I acted the way the book tells me to, then everything will be fine. I made it through 40 nights of reading, and I told him I was done listening. I was then called all kinds of awful names, “evil”, “hateful”, “cold”, “bitter”, “angry”, and “rebellious”, and how could I not see that he was “trying”, because he wanted to read the book! It’s still sitting on the nightstand, and I will be throwing it out when he won’t notice. Every day he walks by my nightstand to see if it’s still there.

  20. Wow! I can also totally relate to what you have written.

    When I first confided in my pastor about what was happening in our marriage, she gave me “Fireproof” to watch. Being a new Christian I hadn’t heard of this movie before or of “The Love Dare” books. I didn’t know what to expect at all. When we watched it together, I remember my husband being angry at me because now it became obvious that I had discussed our situation with the pastor. He didn’t want the church to know what was going on. I think the movie has also contributed to me giving my husband more chances because I keep hoping he would change just like Caleb in the movie. I feel so stupid for thinking that now.

    Later on my husband spoke to another pastor in our church about his “anger” management issues and how our marriage was in trouble. I didn’t know at the time, but this pastor gave my husband “The Love Dare” books. My husband did not tell me at all. I later found the books when cleaning. My husband a few months later told me he read “some” of the book. He told me he was already doing what the book said to do but it wasn’t working. Silently I agreed because he still continued to abuse me despite “doing” “The Love Dare”. He kept saying to me, “What are you doing to contribute to the relationship?”. He also makes me feel constantly indebted to him. Always expecting affection and intimacy back anytime he does something nice. And when I don’t respond how he wants, he blows-up. Again, just recently he yelled at me that he did “The Love Dare” on me. He feels like he is the only one trying to save the relationship. I can definitely see this book has contributed to my husband to feel justified in his abusive actions when I haven’t responded like he expected because he feels like he doesn’t get anything back in return.

    1. Crossroads2013, outside of the use of the book, I can totally relate. Being indebted to him, asking me “I thought you said you were going to try?” This sentence especially —

      Always expecting affection and intimacy back anytime he does something nice. And when I don’t respond how he wants, he blows-up.

      They don’t seem to understand that intimacy is an ongoing thing. It isn’t, “Oh hey I did the dishes, now hug me.” I think I will always hate the phrase, “Come here and let me hold you.” I knew what they phrase meant and if I didn’t the rage began.

      1. Thanks, Brenda. My husband also says things that make me want to cringe. For example, he says “I just want to show you how much I love you” and “I can see you are hurting and I just want to give you a hug”. Or he constantly tells me he loves me. And I’m left wondering is he telling me he loves me because he wants to show that he loves me or is it because he is trying to manipulate me. And if I don’t respond to his “I love you'” then I am “cold” and “distant”. It just messes with my head. Then I feel like something must be wrong with me because I can’t respond to his attempts to “repair” the relationship.

      2. No, Crossroads2013, I could no longer respond to the “repairs” either. They were just the same old things with the words slightly different. I heard the “hug” thing too. I couldn’t make him understand that a hug from the person who was hurting me wasn’t going to help, it only made things worse. It made me cringe, then I was called “cold” or “frigid”. I would have to agree with X in one thing, there was something wrong with me — HIM.

    2. Wow, Crossroads2013. So glad this post rang bells for you!

      Sounds like he had read “some” of the book….just enough to figure out some key words and phrases from the book that he could use against you.

      And don’t you hate it when pastors do things to “help” but it only makes things worse. If only they would come and learn from the survivors who are out of the fog!

  21. I’ve never heard of the book. But thanks so much for your example of open trust with your loving community here in sharing this part of your story. You may consider me well forewarned. 🙂

  22. Yes, know the book well….the film was played at our church and labelled a great film and played on a regular basis. I purchased the book as a surprise gift for my husband when he went away a few years back, hoping it would get through to him to treat me better…. It didn’t work. He just said he already does alot of what the book already says. He said maybe I should look at reading it and doing myself. He says that “he loves me more than words can say and he wished he could take his heart out so I can see what he really thinks of me”. My issue is I hear the things he says and alot of the emotional abuse he does and it doesn’t add up.

    You see, he is the “victim”, “martyr” kind of guy in our marriage. “Mr Nice Guy” that everyone loves to bits. We have been together since we were very young, over 30 years. He comes from an abusive home, where his father verbally, physically and emotionally abused his mom.

    I relate totally to dissociating. I do it all the time….I dissociate when I am under alot of stress and that is how I survive….I’m constantly stressed and walking on eggshells. Some days I think death is my only option out.

    At this present time we are in the “honeymoon” phase until something triggers the next onslaught….what does my head in is the kids think it is me that is the problem….I react with fear-based anger at times. I get attacked by my kids and my husband just sits there like a mute and says nothing, while I’m getting a barrage of “you need to hear some truths, mom” thrown at me. Some days I feel like I’m going nuts….I’m on medication for anxiety and this gets blamed for my dissociation.

    I totally understand also what you are saying about books in the abusive marriage. I read a book about 17 years ago regarding trauma from my past. It has a section written in there for husbands….the words from this book have been thrown in my face and traumatised me over and over again. The ghastly fact that a man can say “I LOVE YOU” and hit you with some of the most hurtful things that have ever happened to you

    1. Hi, Loves6, welcome to the blog. 🙂 It sounds like you are being abused by both your husband and your kids. Have you considered that your kids might never come to see the truth about who is really to blame? Or if they do come to see it it may take them many years. And that for your own safety and well-being you may need to consider taking some steps to protect yourself even though your kids will think you are doing the wrong thing?

      I hope you poke around on our blog, read some of the books we highly recommend, and look at our Resources pages (see the tab at the top of the blog).

      You are not crazy, but I understand that sometimes you feel like you might be going crazy. Victims of domestic abuse OFTEN feel they are going crazy….it is one of the key signs that someone is being abused. It comes about because the abusers are so clever at making us doubt our perceptions. You might like to look at our posts that are tagged Gaslighting. I think they will ring some bells for you. Also the tag Emotional Abuse.

      Blessings and ((hugs)).

      1. Hi, Barbara. I have been visiting your blog for a few weeks. Yes my kids abuse me…. They don’t abuse my husband…. Don’t know the reason why….he is very intelligent, good at arguing (always wins), and is very good with words.
        My kids have been saying that my husband is very intense and obsessive. My kids know what he can be like. They’re just used to me being more compliant and more of a victim, I react when it all gets too much. They are mis-reading the strength or growth that God is doing in me. I have also been very fearful but now the fear is either not there or ever so slightly. I have clarity of mind and I do know what I’m talking about. I recognize the abuse.

        At times over the last year I have been so beside myself that I’m not being heard that self-harm comes up. I will scratch myself or literally try to pull my hair out. It has only been in recent months that I have been told of what I am dealing with. So I am only in the early stages of acceptance I guess. I can relate to the “gaslighting” and the emotional abuse…. It all seems so overwhelming to deal with.

        Thanks so much for your reply…. Bless you.

      2. Hi, Loves6, re the question you recently submitted about another marriage ministry, I think we shall try to answer your question in another post or perhaps by private email (if that’s safe for you), as we try to keep threads relatively “on topic”. Hope you don’t mind.

        So glad your fear is diminishing and you are feeling stronger. Well done! It is pretty normal for kids (esp teenage or adult children) to arc up when mum (the victim of abuse) starts standing her ground more and being less compliant to the abuse. From their point of view, their predictable world is becoming unstable, and if they’ve been taking the side of the abuser over the years, partly or wholly, they often strive to return things to the status quo they are familiar with. Not that you should give up or back down, but it helps to be aware of the push-back you will probably encounter, so it doesn’t throw you off balance quite so much when it happens. 🙂

    2. It isn’t right and it does hurt, Loves6. It breaks my heart to hear your story, especially, when you say your children are against you. I know what it is like to walk on eggshells, always waiting for the next time. For me the honeymoon phase was not pleasant either. It was raping me physically, spiritually and emotionally. The fear of what the “next time” will bring doesn’t go away. “I love you” and hurting you just doesn’t go together. The “I love you” doesn’t mean anything when you are always being hurt. They are just words with nothing behind it. “I love you” is action and his actions do not reflect what he says. I’m praying for you to get healthy and to make safe decisions that will impact your emotional and spiritual well-being.

      1. My kids say they love me to bits. One of my sons is actually obsessive with me, which is concerning. My kids tell me that I have a big heart, that I’ve been through a lot in life and have compassion for others. Two of my kids are abusive and this behavior has been allowed. I have spoken up over the years sayings this is unacceptable…. Unfortunately my husband has not protected me in many situations. In the honeymoon phase I am not moved. I am at the stage of when he shows affection, tells me he loves me a lot in the day, buys flowers etc., I feel nothing. I’m numb…. He tells me he wants me to know how much he loves me….I feel nothing….I feel like a hypocrite and a liar because I’m putting on an act. I don’t know that I love him anymore….I care but I feel no love. I don’t trust him….his words just don’t add up. He gets so angry because he senses these things and says he feels so broken. I don’t feel guilty for that….I just say….”Why do you think I’m like this?”…. Thank you for your prayers.

      2. Loves6, what you’ve described is oh so classic! Not that I want to diminish your anguish by saying it is common.

        The numbness. Yes. The feeling that you don’t love him, but you do care. Yes. The distrust of him. Yes. The feeling like you are a liar and a hypocrite because you’re putting on an act. Yes. (Remind yourself you are doing this to protect yourself from worse abuse: you are not lying because your character is corrupt. So be gentle on yourself and don’t beat yourself up.)

        It is VERY good that you are not feeling guilty when he tries to manipulate you with his “poor me” act. That means you are getting strong and putting up psychological walls (boundaries) so you are dis-attaching from his manipulative tactics.

  23. All of the above. BTDT [Been There, Done That]!

    Now will the good folk here tell me what they think about another popular movie, by the Kendrick brothers, called “Courageous”? I believe the producers were associated with Doug Wilson.

    1. Well, for one thing, did you notice that in that movie the bad guy deputy of all the deputies was divorced? And in these scripts, there is always a happy ending. That is to say, everything works out. Bad guys get saved. Marriages are maintained. And fundamentally they are about men. Men being men. If only the men….

      1. Thank you, TWBTC, for the link. I’m just now reading this post, and don’t know that I have much to add, but have definitely enjoyed reading all the comments.

        After seeing your comment and link, I re-read my “Courageous Divorce” post, and realized that I, if I were to write the same post, today, I would likely have fewer nice things to say about the movie. It’s not that the movie has no redeeming qualities….it does. It’s just that I’m becoming less and less convinced that “some redeeming qualities” are enough to “excuse” some really bad theology that brings so much unnecessary and ungodly bondage.

      2. I’m becoming less and less convinced that some redeeming qualities are enough to excuse some really bad theology that brings so much unnecessary and ungodly bondage.

        Joe, thank you for this statement. I’ve been thinking about this same idea: how people try to balance good and bad. It seems that some people believe that one good deed weighs the same as one bad deed thus canceling each other out. But they don’t consider the fact that the effects of the deeds aren’t the same. Being physically assaulted one day by my abuser is not negated because he does the dishes the next day.

        I recently read a statement in which the person said that we should stop berating “Focus on the Family” for their stand on divorce and abuse because “they do some much good” otherwise. Meaning — FOTF does so much good that we need to excuse the fact that they commit this one little infraction regarding DV and divorce.

        The scale just doesn’t balance that easily!

      3. I have to agree, TWBTC. There are many organizations that do “some good”, but if their basic principles are flawed I’m not going to promote them. FOTF’s principles are causing people undue bodily and emotional harm. This can affect the entire family, not just the spouses. They really need to look at the harm they are doing to the children, as well.

      4. Joe, I was thinking about your comments on “Courageous”. If we liken it to good food that has been poisoned with something that could cause you harm then you wouldn’t touch it. You would throw it out. We need to do the same with these movies.

      5. Not a bad idea, Forrest. These movies, just like the books we’ve been discussing are no better than romance novels. They are meant to be a feel good, clean-cut Christian experience and then we go back to reality and say — it doesn’t usually turn out that way.

      6. You know, I completely understand ignorance. Like many others, I accepted a lot of what I was taught in church about marriage and divorce, without really questioning it very deeply. So, I tend to have a lot of grace for other people raised in similar backgrounds who are as clueless as I once was. I try to give them more insight, but I also try to have grace for them.

        BUT….BUT….I think that changes when someone sets themself up as an expert. Before someone decides they are qualified to teach on the topic of marriage and divorce, they owe it to their audience to first educate themselves on the topic of abusive relationships; to study ALL that the Bible has to say on the topic of abuse, justice, and mercy; and to reconcile their theological position on marriage and divorce with the reality of abuse and how God says to deal with abuse and injustice.

        If they can’t do that, then they have no business teaching on the topic of marriage and divorce.

        Saying, “Oh, my book wasn’t intended to address abuse situations” just doesn’t cut it!

      7. Saying, “Oh, my book wasn’t intended to address abuse situations” just doesn’t cut it!

        Yep. Such books need to have a big fluorescent yellow sticker on their front cover saying “This book does not address abuse situations.” Can you imagine how the publishers would love that idea? (sarc)

      8. Barb, if they did have that warning label, I know one less sale they would have had on several books on my shelf.

      9. Thanks for the links.

        I’m glad, Joe, that you added your comment regarding your original post. I think it’s important to be balanced and gracious, but we should surely be vocal about those aspects that are misleading and harmful. Even if organizations do a lot of good, it doesn’t excuse wrong teaching. The best cheesecake in the world is still to be viewed with suspicion if it has a drop of mercury poison in it.

      10. Before someone decides they are qualified to teach on the topic of marriage and divorce, they owe it to their audience to first educate themselves on the topic of abusive relationships; to study ALL that the Bible has to say on the topic of abuse, justice, and mercy; and to reconcile their theological position on marriage and divorce with the reality of abuse and how God says to deal with abuse and injustice.


        I agree. Though, to be honest, this isn’t always helpful because it is far from impossible for the expert to learn wrongly about abuse and study the relationship of abuse and marriage through the wrong filter. Then you end up with “twice the son of hell” that you would have had otherwise.

        And that is not at all what I set out to say. Funny how that works. :/

      11. Barnabasintraining – yes, the earlier post on FOTF is a good example, isn’t it? They clearly have some level of understanding of the nature of abuse, yet still focus on saving the marriage.

        Crazy! 😦

      12. Another food analogy similar to Forrest’s:
        Food that has nuts in it, even traces of nuts, is labelled accordingly so that people with nut allergies don’t eat it. The food is nutritious for some but toxic for others, so labelling is essential.

        Books like The Love Dare need, at the very least, to have similar warning labels.

        (Not that victims of abuse are “oversensitive” to the nuts they live with….far from it. Victims are usually too long-suffering of the nuttiness.)

  24. What a wonderful look into how an abuser traps his wife! I believe every bit of it. It very much follows the abuse I watched from my father towards my mother. I still pray I will get her out. I am glad I am out now at least.

  25. A few years ago, I received this book from my husband as a Christmas present. He told me that he bought it for me so that I could do “The Love Dare” on him. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had tried similar type things before, which he only saw as his “due” anyway and had no positive impact on my marriage. In reality, it only made things worse as it fed his entitlement mentality. My husband is blind, and as such, required extra care. He was selfish, demanding, and ungrateful. He would tell me how I was no kind of wife to him, how I don’t do anything for him, how I don’t take care of him, etc. Nothing I ever did would have been enough. He truly felt that my life and that of our children should revolve around him. He would tell me how he is supposed to be the most important person here, and he would be very angry if he perceived that something or someone else came before him.

    I actually believe “The Love Dare” is a great book….for couples who want to strive TOGETHER to build a better, stronger, loving marriage.

    I also really liked the “Fireproof” movie. However, it raised false hope in me. When I watched it, I had this fantasy that my husband would watch it, and a “light bulb” would go off. It didn’t. No surprise to anybody here.

    1. I actually believe “The Love Dare” is a great book….for couples who want to strive TOGETHER to build a better, stronger, loving marriage.

      Maybe I’m just in a questioning mood, lately….not sure….

      BUT, I don’t think I could even say with confidence that it is a good book for married couples striving together. Even for this situation, if the marriage is experiencing issues (which is what the book is geared to resolving) the issues don’t just go away by extending love and affection to one another. Yes, that can go a long ways….but there is still a need to discuss issues, to work through compromises, etc. Issues that are swept under the rug and ignored have a way of resurfacing in unhealthy outlets and / or resentment….

      In other words, even for a marriage where both partners are committed to working together, the book still seems to present an unbalanced view with unrealistic expectations.

      1. I believe the underlying problem with all of these books is that they provide a formula for “fixing” the problem. If it isn’t initiated without promoting then it is just following a script, which isn’t real and can’t be trusted. And then when the other party doesn’t follow the script they get condemned.

      2. Forrest – you nailed it!

        The message of these sorts of books is, “do this and your marriage will be saved.”

        The message of the Gospel is, “believe in The Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!”

      3. Yes! It always comes back to the Gospel, Joe. If an abuser already thinks he is a Christian, then there is no way in for the Gospel. The Lord said He didn’t come to those who had no need of a physician!

      4. Forrest, that is so true. Abusers don’t think they need a physician. They think there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. Everyone else is wrong.

      5. Forrest –

        You nailed it!

        The message of these books is, “Do this and your marriage will be saved.”

        The message of the Gospel is, “Believe in The Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

  26. My wife and I read “The Love Dare” devotional. I was uncomfortable with some of the readings. Someone can interpret the message as being “love tolerates mistreatment”.

  27. The best book any woman could read when living with an abusive man is “Why Does He DO That?” by Lundy Bancroft. Churches, Christians, pastors, and lay counsellors generally only inflict more damage on a wounded woman and add to her pain and distress. My professional experience within the Christian community is that people-helpers often won’t acknowledge the need to know what they’re doing before they start giving advice or purporting to “solve” couples’ problems where abuse is a part of the relationship. The examples given in the comments are heartbreaking, and so much of it didn’t need to happen — if only those women had been given the support they needed, and the men held accountable for their actions, and both referred to outside professionals. THAT is what the church should be doing — not dispensing “counsel” on things about which it is not qualified.

    “The Love Dare” might be a perfectly good book for some couples, but it isn’t appropriate for others. Not knowing the difference is negligent. And traumatizing.

    1. Hi, Dr Susannah.

      That is a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

      I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts [comments].

      1. Thanks. This is one issue about which I am passionate, as a Christian, and as a professional.

        I want to make it clear that I have no issue whatsoever with lay counsellors. I believe they fill a need that is overwhelming in most churches. What I do have an issue with is not understanding when the issue at hand (in this case, abuse) is more complex than is safe for a lay counsellor to address. This includes counselling pastors, which also have the added issue of a dual relationship involving authority. “Cross pollination” as my husband says. 🙂 In the denomination in which I was raised, the church leadership were very reluctant to involve “outsiders” (non-Christians) in anything they deemed to be church business, including issues in which the law or social services should have been called. This is sooooooo wrong.

        It has been a millennials-long weakness of the church to refuse to admit that quoting Bible verses or praying over the wounded, damaged sinners that we are is sometimes not enough. Those things are needful, helpful, and can be effective, but not enough in some situations. Further, practical support, accountability, mentoring, and consequences are often required, sometimes in the form of legal “clout” for non-compliance. Abuse, in any form, is one of those issues.

        Additionally, the inherent authoritarian “flavour” in some denominations actually aids the abuser in continuing behaviours that are too easily passed off as “biblical” headship. Boo hiss.

        Having been a lay counsellor, and now a psychologist, I find it sad, and at times infuriating, that women (& men) subject to abuse in relationship are often unable to find the help and support they need to recover themselves. It ought not to be that way.

  28. We attended a church he had been going to since before 2009 and one year later, the pastor was preaching on “in excess” of drinking and since the husband believed he was being targeted as an alcoholic, we left that church and never went back. We visited a few of his fave’s “motorcycle churches”. But the music was usually not to his liking. He was once “in a band” and no one plays as good as he does. Or the churches are too religious for him. Or they don’t all hate blacks, Jews, and homosexuals as much as he, the husband, does.

    Insert abusive female in the south. I have been with & eventually married to my abuser since Jan ’09. I finally left, without warning, Aug 13. I was gone for almost “21 days” before I caved and talked to him by email. Mostly because he was falsely accusing me to family members and friends. I felt the need to set him straight.

    But after I left, he joined another church. The irony here is that, the church he joined I had pointed it out to him plus three times in the past, but he was never interested. Mainly, I am sure, because I was the one initiating it. In his eyes, I am not smart enough to make those types of decisions. He also told me, while he was cleaning up one of my rooms, he saw that I had his copy of “The Love Dare” book in my desk. He reminded me how stupid the book was, along with the movie, and he would never be subjected to reading and participating within such psychological psychobabble. If there is a problem, “God solves everything”, he claims. However, the new church has a non-licensed “concerned” woman, who wants to be a counselor. Since she is not licensed, her fee is relatively cheap. She recommended “The Love Dare” book. And, I know my abuser, in order to look good in someone else’s eyes — he started reading it and started completing “The Love Dare” lessons in emails every day to me. He did not share with me what he was doing. Just from out of nowhere, he began telling me how wonderful I was and his hateful / conceited actions of narcissism flew out the window. I was suspicious, so I did my homework and realized he was verbatim giving me the “sweet treatment” via “The Love Dare” tasks.

    What a new way of manipulating, gone wrong! I agree that “The Love Dare” book is: Danger in the hands of an abuser.

    I struggle each day on how to stay away from him. I am in a safe place and finally have located employment. I am not happy where I am, but not sure that functioning in society will ever be easy for me. I have many scars and not many outlets to de-stress. When I lived with him, although it was mostly verbal / mental / and psychological abuse opposed to physical. My mental abuse has impacted my physical state, it has become a never-ending cycle. He was the sole breadwinner, I was a stay-at-home wife. I had some freedom, but my primary place was at his side. I am just a frozen being in a world full of fast pace “taken for granted, warmth” from what I consider as outsiders. Nonetheless, I found this thread on “The Love Dare” and abusers and felt inclined to lend my two cents of sense.

  29. I realize this is an old post but I am just in shock at the realization of the filter I’ve been looking through at many things. We watched both “Fireproof” and “Courageous” together (before I knew I was in an abusive marriage). I don’t recall really discussing them but I do remember feeling an ache in my heart as I longed for my husband to begin loving me with tenderness and compassion the way I saw it being played out. Then I felt bad for coveting — after all, wasn’t my husband good enough for me? He just wasn’t as “emotional” as these men….right?

    I’m having a really big gulp right now because I recently noticed “The Love Dare” on my husband’s pile of reading materials next to his magazines. Up to this point he has never been a reader of any kind of self-enrichment books and I have no idea where he got this book….I had to practically beg him to read “The Love Languages” [The 5 Love Languages] book. After reading that I was mystified why I couldn’t discern what language he was and his response was “I’m all of them”. Guess that should have been a clue to me.

    I’m having some anxious thoughts as I anticipate how this book may be used against me in the near future as I think he senses a separation is on the horizon. As I was reading many of these responses I think a good response for me might be “If the Bible hasn’t helped our marriage I don’t think this book will either.” I can’t say how many times I’ve told him I feel he is rebelling against God and he shrugs his shoulders and says he doesn’t agree with me as though we were discussing if I put too much salt in the soup.

    Or perhaps I might be able to bow out of “The Love Dare” book by saying “I’ve already dared him to love me and so far he hasn’t taken me up on it.” Feeling a bit sarcastically frustrated.

    1. Valerie, I think your gut feelings are right and I like the way you are working out your future comebacks to if he pushes “The Love Dare” on you. Well done! It shows how creative you are at working out ways to judiciously resist the abuser’s tactics. 🙂

  30. This resonates so much with me. My husband and I both watched “Fireproof” and read “The Love Dare” book together. He figured out that he could do whatever he wanted to me and I would still have to love and accept him. According to the book, I would have to keep up my part of the relationship while he did everything he could to destroy it. He is passive aggressive so his tool is to riddle me with guilt trips or simply neglect and ignore me while making me feel bad if I ask him for any kind of relationship.

    I am all for treating our husbands with the love of Christ. But when “The Love Dare” viewpoint is used to abuse a wife repeatedly, it crosses a line. I have learned how to function in my marriage and my husband has dialed it down significantly but the damage has been done and he feels he is “owed” all the attention, sex, and freedom that he wants. I have just realized that I don’t have to give in to his guilt trips and I will no longer contribute to his sinfulness. I am no saint. I have my own issues to work out. But I make sure I go to the Lord and see how He wants me to respond, not some book.

  31. One thing that most people miss in all this “Fireproof” stuff is that there is a very strong, not-easily-fooled mentor in the picture. The few abusive marriages that seem to have “made it” that I know of, have had a man take the abuser by the shirt collar so-to-speak and say, “Hey Bud!! This is wrong and it is going to stop or I am personally going to see to it that your victim is out of there!” An intervention sort of thing. “Fireproof” has that, yet everyone here talks about “doing the book” without on their own. We are a people of lone rangers, like little children crying, “Me do it!”.

    And that is what I believe this website is all about….awareness of the need for pastors and their teams to stand up and say, “No more, and I will personally make sure that it stops here.” Then be there to walk both through whatever they need to walk through.

  32. I’m glad I found this topic and went through the helpful posts [comments]. Thanks everyone!

    Someone at church gave us the movie CD a few years ago and I was transported by the whole story, especially tearful when Caleb kneels at Catherine’s bed side and genuinely asks her for her forgiveness. I thought my husband would get it i.e., that he was the malignant Caleb with issues and needed to repent, be converted and amend his ways. I concur with Barnabasintraining that the new birth in Christ of the husband is essential and actually the heart of the story. The Gospel, last I heard, is about saving people, not saving marriage.

    Well after we watched the movie he told me….that the woman did “The Love Dare” on her husband (you know….Caleb’s mother) implying I had to do it to him. Argh! “Fireproof”: another opportunity for the husband to get the message, gone up in smoke…. 😦

    Oh and shall I “dare” to say that after that we even watched Flywheel [Internet Archive link]1 and The Climb [Internet Archive link]1 and he still didn’t get it….

    (1 Corinthians 2:14 [KJV, AKJV]) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    1[April 12, 2023: We added the links to Wikipedia’s pages on the Christian movies Flywheel and The Climb (2002). The Internet Archive links are copies of those pages. Editors.]

    1. I like the Kendrick brothers’ movies because they show US what repentance OUGHT to look like. I don’t know that abusers will watch them and say, “I ought to repent.” But I watch them and see how the repenters make no demands, do not complain, and don’t repent in order to get anything. They repent because they were doing wrong and now they are going to do right. So it’s educational (very educational) to me to watch their movies and see true repentance. It helps me to recognize the fakes much faster.

      1. Thanks, Ellie, for your feedback. Isn’t it tragic that true repentance is so rare nowadays that it has to be “portrayed” in movies! 😦 I long for the day when an army of true and valiant men of God will stand up for truth for real and not on a screen….

    2. I had a similar experience. About two months before I finally left my abusive ex, we watched Fireproof together. I saw in it so many things I hoped he would see. When it was over, he just shrugged his shoulders and said that he didn’t get much out of it and he liked Facing the Giants better. I was depressed for a week.

      I was terrified of that movie for a long time until I finally was tired of it haunting me and watched it by myself just to release myself from my fear. Haven’t watched it again.

  33. My wife and I read “The Love Dare” devotional. Most of the writing is reasonable. Some of what is said in the book can easily be used by abusive individuals as tools for abuse. Human love has to be conditional. Jesus is the only individual on this earth who loved unconditionally. We become doormats when we love despite what’s done to us. Abusive individuals often expect undying devotion.

    1. Searcher – I think it is sometimes misleading to use the term “unconditional” in reference to God’s love. Whether or not His love is unconditional, God’s relationships are certainly conditional. You might enjoy this post where I discuss this topic more in-depth: Unconditional? [Internet Archive link]

      Blessings to you!

  34. I’m so glad I read this. I’m right now in this kind of relationship. Yesterday my step-dad tried to offer that book to my husband but he refused it saying he didn’t agree with everything in it because it was always “the husband’s fault”. Thank goodness he didn’t take it because I’m trying to leave with my kids and one more emotional twist from him would finish me. Trying to find a place to get away from all this control is so hard when prices for rents are so high 😦 Thank you for posting this. I hear your pain and I get it. I know this is what’s going to happen to me already….even without the book so I know I’m not alone now and neither are you. 🙂

    1. Daina,

      Welcome to the blog! No, you are not alone. There are many here who understand the fog of abuse and the difficult decisions one must make to become free of abuse and in a safe place. We encourage you to continue searching the blog and learning about abuse — its tactics and mentality. Also, I encourage you to visit the New Users’ page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

  35. “The Love Dare” is definitely dangerous in the hands of an abusive person. But “The Love Dare” is a fantastic book….do it on yourself. Do “The Love Dare” on yourself.

    The main theme is basically “stop being so damn selfish and be kind to your spouse.” It’s not really about buying the flowers. But abusive people are so insanely selfish that they use it as a tool against their victims. If your husband had actually done “The Love Dare” — if he had actually read it, listened to it, took it to heart — he would have had no other option other than to be more kind, thoughtful, and patient. He lied to you. He lied to himself.

    After experiencing several abusive relationships, I’ve realized that I have a tendency to lean towards self-loathing at times. They made me feel so worthless. And I believed them. I really really did. Their lies sunk deep into me and I started treating myself they way they treated me. And I can’t help but wonder how many abuse survivors are in the same situation.

    So I’ve started doing “The Love Dare” on myself….and it helps. When reading the book, I have to adjust the way I read it so that it applies towards me as an individual, but it’s brought me to tears so many times. I’ve been unkind to myself. I’ve been impatient with myself. I haven’t given myself permission to be human. But now I’m starting to be kind to me. I’m starting to see my worth. I’m starting to understand how their poison got me, and learning how to love myself is the remedy.

  36. A friend recommended the movie and I watched it. My husband happened to walk in about 10 minutes in and watched it, too. I’m currently doing “The Love Dare” without him knowing and it’s because I want to work on myself. I am finding them very helpful and I think he is getting some benefits from it. However, we have a very healthy relationship with normal day-to-day struggles. I applaud you for sharing your experience. Like anything else, an abuser will find a way to continue his / her abuse no matter what the tool. It is unfortunate that he used something positive and turned it into something negative and hurtful. No one should have to go through that.

    1. Anonymous,

      Welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      Again Welcome and thank you for your comment!

  37. Wow, this is so me. He is on day 27, should be further. He gave me one notebook of his writing each day with the dare he did. Almost like he was bragging to me. He has completely manipulated me into believing he changed. He even divulged secrets to me that he knew would hurt but I would feel better about because he shared them. He started by being consistent then went back to the same mean man but twisted it on me saying I need to do this dare and I am “cold” now. I am a mess because I lost my family over him.

    1. Hi dear sister, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      You are not alone — many of our readers are or have been married to mean manipulative men. I hope you keep reading this blog and commenting as and when you wish to do so.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      I changed your screen name to Wife Of Mean Manipulator because it looked like you’d written your real name in the “name” field of the comments form and it’s not safe for you to do that on public blog like this while you are still in danger from your abuser and his allies.

      If you want us to change that screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain). Her address is 🙂

  38. My prayers are with you, my husband recently bought the book without my knowledge, and I found it, read it, and because I didn’t put it back in its place, he threw it away.

    I’ve seen the movie countless times, and I’m aware [of] the book, even though I haven’t read it.

    But your spouse’s heart needs to be right, none of it will work if the heart isn’t right.

  39. I am not speaking from a romantic view point but a familial one. Abuse has no limits on who or what they use. My parents were horribly abusive and had me read books like this growing up — telling me that this was how love and marriage worked. Eggerich’s “Love and Respect” was another one among others arguably worse. They followed the same formula as the author here. I lived through years of emotional and physical abuse in their house along with sexual assault / abuse from other family members.

    I was in my early twenties when I finally went for help from a solid biblical church. My parents quickly changed their tune when the pastors I saw were horrified and suggested I leave. After a life-time of horrible treatment they went out and bought me something nice for Christmas (something they’d never done before). When I accepted they immediately used it against me like this author mentioned. Suddenly they were the ones trying to repair our relationship….they were the ones giving me things they wanted to make things up to me can’t everyone see that!?!? I legitimately felt like I was losing my sanity — hearing one thing behind closed doors and another in front of family and yet more in front of different friend groups.

    Thank God I’m now out and away from them. I’ll be starting therapy soon for all of this. I still struggle every day with the after-effects.

    1. Dear MeToo, thank you for sharing your story. It is heartbreaking…. Your parents were hypocrites. They were skillful and relentless in their hypocrisy. I am glad you have got away from them now. All the best with the therapy you are going to be starting soon.

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      You may like to check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions. This one may particularly interest you: What if the abusers were one’s parents? And this one: How do I find a good counselor?

  40. I am so sorry that this is your experience with “The Love Dare”. Throughout the book, it constantly reminds the reader to show unconditional love in their marriage. This means demonstrating love without expecting anything back. Easier said than done, especially when the other side is resisting any form of love. Clearly your ex-husband wasn’t demonstrating unconditional love like the book consistently calls for; as it is supposed to mirror the unconditional love Jesus displays, even to those who reject Him.

    1. Gwen, please think about these questions. Does Jesus display unconditional love to those who reject Him? He willingly died on the cross taking the punishment for all sins committed by humanity (past, present and future). Does Jesus accept the wicked as they are? Or does He warn them of the wrath to come if they do not repent? Does He warn them about hell?

      Jesus offers salvation and forgiveness to all who renounce their sin and believe in Him. But He also tears strips off the wicked and denounces hypocrites, warning them of the wrath to come if they do not repent. He tells His disciples to shake the dust off their feet when people reject the Gospel. We are instructed to avoid presumptuous hardened wicked evildoers (2 Timothy 3). Therefore, the love Jesus displays and the love Jesus tells us to display ought to take different forms for different situations.

      I put to you that your concept of “unconditional love” needs to be reviewed. You might find this post helpful. Does Unconditional Love Even Exist?

  41. Thank you for your courage to speak and share honestly. As a man it helps me to look at my own heart, to be on guard against the temptation to abuse my spouse and to be realistic not idealistic about marriage.

  42. I am not sure that the problem was the book itself but how the abuser used it (selectively). The movie Fireproof [Internet Archive link]1 (which was the first and then the book was written based on the movie) highlights that you shouldn’t expect anything from your wife / husband in exchange. And mentions that it’s a long-term project (for life, not just 40 days). In my understanding it’s just a tool that can help you to change your own vision which may help your relationship by showing your persistence and your clear self-motive.

    I would be really interested, if one is following the book correctly, how effective it would be. And if the book and its suggestions are correct psychologically as well. As I am not sure about that and that’s what makes me really curious. It has a strong religious Christian side and I am afraid that it is trying to solve the marriage through religion and not using religion as one of many tools that can help. I am not sure if the writers were aware of what is healthy to suggest for a relationship. But I can imagine the book is absolutely correct, I am just wondering what a professional would say about this.

    Regarding the movie side of this dilemma. Why I have so many concerns is that at the end they cut at a romantic happy end, which implies that this happy and problem free state will remain. And this is so unrealistic. I would have been interested in their new, after-remarriage life, let’s say after another 7 years or more when the book is not in the focus anymore.

    I am so confused because the book seems promising but can’t find a single independent article [or post] that talks about this book in relation to psychology and mental health except this one.

    1[April 11, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the movie Fireproof, a Christian movie directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Stephen Kendrick. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. The book The Love Dare can be found in our Books in our Hall of Blind Guides. Editors.]

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