'Fireproofing' Your Marriage Day by Day
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - It has spent Fifty-eight (58) weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. More than three million copies have been sold. It is available in 22 different languages and is the number one bestselling book in Africa. Even its iPhone app is number one in app downloads.
It is safe to say that “The Love Dare”, a book derived from the highly successful movie, “Fireproof”, has had a tremendous impact on marriages far and wide. Marriages have been saved, lives have been strengthened, and a marriage movement has begun.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with authors and film creators Alex and Stephen Kendrick to discuss the impact “The Love Dare” has had on marriages, their follow-up book “The Love Dare, Day by Day”, and the most important lesson one can learn from 'fireproofing' a relationship.
It was the focal part of the movie, but what was the inspiration for writing The Love Dare?
Alex Kendrick: Late in 2005, we were praying for God’s idea for the third movie. We’d finished Facing the Giants, but it was before itcame out. And I was jogging around the block, and the Lord gave me this idea of this husband and wife about to get a divorce, when the father steps in and challenges his son to a 40-day dare. He gives him a handwritten journal called “The Love Dare.” And the son, who does not believe in the Lord, begins applying these biblical principles. At first he does it reluctantly, but he begins realizing he never knew how to love his wife. And as he goes deeper and deeper into what love really is, it takes him face to face in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And he gets saved, and then ends up winning his wife to Christ as well. But when I jogged over to Stephen’s house and said, “What do you think of this idea?” he said, “That’s it.” And Stephen says, “This should be a real book. We should really write this book.” So when we finished the movie, we did the book.
Stephen Kendrick: Yes, we’d been praying for months, “Lord, lead us to what you’re wanting us to do.” And so there was a sense that day, the conversation we had was, “The Lord is leading us to make this movie and to write this book.” And I had been doing marriage counseling for years at that point, had already done a bunch of Bible studies on love and relationships, had done a conference on love and relationships, had taught it in church and Sunday school and stuff. I had all these biblical principles about love and marriage on my computer files. And it was like one of those “ah-ha” moments, where it was like, “The Lord’s been preparing us all this time and we didn’t even know it.” “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do the good works He’s prepared beforehand for us to do,” Ephesians 2:10 says. But the other thing was, after we finished the movie then went to the book, it was harder than making the movie to write the book.
In the movie “Fireproof”, the main character, Caleb Holt, was doing “The Love Dare” secretly. Should you tell your spouse that you’re doing it?
Alex: It depends on your circumstances. There are couples who are healthy and did it together.
Stephen: Yes. They would try to outdo one another. They were reading the principles, and they would try to compete as to who can outdo the other one.
Alex: But there were some couples who, because of the state of their marriage, one of them needed to do it and not tell the spouse what they were doing, but just demonstrate love to them. So it’s whatever the Lord leads you to do.
There is a women’s group in my church using “The Love Dare” as a Bible study. Does it work well for that?
Alex: Yes. As always, we have seen some pretty phenomenal responses. At the same time, ultimately it boils down to are you listening to what the Lord is saying to you? For people that are putting these biblical principles, and that’s what they are, into their marriage and into their life, they could do wonders. So we have heard some mostly wonderful responses to using it as a Bible study. But there are some people whose circumstance or their attitude toward the book is such that, when they reluctantly go through, if their heart’s closed to what the Lord may be saying to them, they could say, “I didn’t get much out of it.” Well, that’s between them and the Lord.”
Stephen: We know it’s not going to return void. We know that it’s going to impact people’s lives to the maximum. We know that it’s going to help them, if they begin to apply God’s Word, to become a disciple of Christ. And so if they’re willing to obey God’s Word, it’s going to transform their marriages.
When you stand at the altar, you promise each other to love each other unconditionally for the rest of your lives. It’s kind of a romantic promise almost. Why is that so rarely practiced in real life?
Stephen: It’s impossible.
Alex: Yes. You do it with the right intentions. And that promise is not a bad promise to make. But the more you go into marriage, the more you realize, “Someone has to help me fulfill this promise.” And that is the need. God designed our heart to operate a certain way physically and to operate a certain way spiritually and emotionally. But if I do not tap into what the Creator of my heart intended me to do and I try to do it my way, I’m going to mess it all up. And so “The Love Dare” is intended to remind you of the standard that God sets and the need for reliance on His grace and strength to love my spouse. One of the principles, if husbands and wives just get this principle, even this one principle, that love is not based on the one receiving love; it is based on the one choosing to do the loving. God loves us not because we’re loveable, but because He is so loving. So if God loves me when I don’t deserve it, how can I tell my wife, “I only love you when you deserve it”? Now, that’s hypocritical. That’s not love.
Why is the “The Love Dare” 40 days? Why not 20? Why not 60? Why not a year?
Alex: We asked ourselves that very question. And as we prayed through, it seemed that 40 days was the right length of time to change a habit and to instill a need. And we played with 21. We played with 50. But as we prayed about it, it seemed like 40 was the right amount of time to do a pretty significant set of dares without being overwhelmed. And at the same time, it’d be long enough for someone’s heart to begin to change. I don’t know that we could have done that in 10 or 20. I think it took that long to begin that course correction. And at the end of the 40 days, we’ve seen marriages that were dramatically changed and marriages that began to change. As a matter of fact, there was one guy who did “The Love Dare” three consecutive times before his wife broke.
Is there any one lesson in these 40 days that you feel is the most important or the most significant?
Alex: That’s hard, but how to lead your heart. We opened The Love Dare with a concept in the introduction that you must determine to lead your heart, not follow your heart. If you are following your heart, something else or someone else is leading it. Scripture says to guard your heart with all diligence. It says that where your treasure is, there your heart is also. So we are telling people, “Put your treasure, your investment, your time, your money, your energy, back into your spouse and believe that your heart will follow.” And if you take the “The Love Dare” with that mindset, then these principles will make more sense and be more achievable, because you’re leading your heart to love your spouse.
Based on the phenomenal success of “The Love Dare” you are releasing a new book this Christmas season called “The Love Dare, Day by Day”, a yearlong devotional for couples. Tell me about it.
Stephen: People are saying, “We just finished the book.” And there was one guy, it was funny, he said, “I’ve been a divorce attorney.” And he said, “This book’s going to put me out of business.” One couple, marriage counselors, saying, “Now our homework for couples is to watch the movie and then to go through “The Love Dare” together. And so I was at Smart Marriages Conference recently, and they said something I had never thought about. They said, “We’re spending all this time trying to help couples. So many of them are struggling in their marriage. But they’re not willing to ask for help. They don’t know that there’s any hope for their marriage. And then, even when they come in for counseling, they’re not willing to be honest, and they’re not willing to work on their marriage.” They said when couples are going through watching Fireproof, they realize, “Everybody is struggling the same way we are. We’ve had that same fight.” And then they say, “Let’s go get marriage counseling.” And then they’re open for biblical counseling, because they see it in the movie. They’re open for “The Love Dare.” And so these marriage ministries are handing them The Love Dare when they walk in the door, saying, “Go through this,” and they’re willing to go through it. So, we thought why not create something that couples can go through day by day.
Going forward, how can people be praying for Sherwood Pictures through whatever project you’re working?
Alex: Well, first of all, that the Lord continues to clearly direct and that His favor is on what we do, and that it would continue to make a difference in the entire culture. We’re not out to write a good book or make a good movie. We don’t care. We want to change culture. And we just feel like the Lord has presented those avenues in front of us.
Stephen: And to keep us useable. We’ve got some friends who’ve told us, they said, “You need to watch out for success.” Because you can get prideful. So it’s like we need to keep giving credit to God for what He’s done and not take credit away from Him, because every good and perfect gift is from Him.
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