Our wedding day was perfect. Peet and I exchanged vows in an open-air chapel on a warm and windy June day. I wanted to get married in a field or in a church, and somehow I got both. My dress was simple— I cared a lot more about my flowers, which were exquisite. It was Father’s Day. Peet read his vows first. Peet’s vows were incredible. And not just because they were for me. I can say, objectively, they were poetic brilliance. Due to the wind, I was one of about ten people out of the crowd of 250 who actually heard them. The pastor marrying us had the sense to hand me a microphone when it was my turn to read my vows. Everyone heard my vows. I still smile to myself when I think of just how perfectly us that is. My love for Peet is loud, amplified through writing and expression. Peet’s love for me is heard most clearly by the people closest to us. Both kinds are holy.

When Christians talk about love, it is often preceded by another word: “unconditional”. What is unconditional love? Dr. Emerson Eggerich describes unconditional love between two people this way, “There is no condition that causes me to be unloving or disrespectful. In other words, if I am unloving or disrespectful, it is not because of certain circumstances caused by others that make me react unlovingly or disrespectfully. I choose it, independent of the circumstances”. To choose to love, intentionally, regardless of the conditions. It seems so easy when the conditions are right. It’s easy to love on a perfect day in June.

Photo of Emily

The Book

The Love Dare is a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to grow in practicing unconditional love. This book by Alex and Stephen Kendrick is one part marriage book, one part journal, and was a major plot device in the Christian film, Fireproof (great concept, not a great movie). This book is written for all couples, whether your marriage is falling apart or just needs a fresh wind of intentionality. Each day’s reading is a small portion on a topic regarding unconditional love, including one dare to love your spouse that day. Upon completion of the day’s dare, the book includes journal prompts and space to write down your thoughts and experience putting that love dare into action. The dares get increasingly weightier as you move through the challenge, ending with some new practices for your relationship and fresh commitment to your spouse.

Emily and Pete photo

My Experience

This Project was hard. Really hard. And it was really, really good.

It seems pretty easy at first. Day 1, readers are dared to simply refrain from offering their spouse any negative criticism for a full day. Day 3 directed me to buy my husband a small gift to say I was thinking about him. After the first week, things get more challenging. Repenting of unreasonable expectations. Identifying areas of lust. Choosing to forgive. Asking for help. Hard, hard things.

This experience forced me to face a lot of my beliefs around marriage. Questions like,

What is God’s purpose for marriage?
Why did I even get married?
What do I want my marriage to be like?
How am I holding myself back from that kind of marriage?
And most pressingly, is marriage worth it?

I don’t think anyone gets to marriage without hearing how hard it is going to be. Married people are pretty open about the fact that marriage is wildly challenging. The question was never whether or not marriage was hard, rather if it was worth it. I can say that it is.

Day 40, the final dare in this book, challenges the reader to re-write their wedding vows and give them to their spouse. I looked back on the vows I wrote four years ago. They are still beautiful. But in some ways, they’re empty. I had no idea what I was promising on that windy June day. These new vows I’ve written seem truer. I know a lot more now about what love requires. I also know just how good it is.

The Love Dare book image

Is This Book For You?

I recommend this book for any married person, whether you’ve been married 30 years or your marriage is young like mine. There is a lot of wise, practical guidance on how to strengthen your marriage through regular practices. It won’t be easy. To choose to love even when you don’t feel like it is the most challenging thing you can ask a person to do. Still, I have never regretted it. If you do decide to use this book to explore unconditional love in your marriage, I would love to hear about your experience. Email me at emily@project-emily.com or connect with me on Instagram @projectemilyblog. To read about four other great books on marriage, check out my post, The 5 Books That Have Most Benefited My Marriage.

Thank you for reading all about Project Marriage. To stay up to date on all of my Projects and reviews, join my email newsletter below.

Newsletter Sign-up

Get book reviews delivered right to your inbox.


On Beauty and Motherhood

I put on makeup every day for 30 days. I didn’t wear makeup every day before I had my daughter, so I surely didn’t prioritize it after she was born. One day in January, I realized that I liked how I felt when I wore makeup, so I thought I would conduct a little experiment. I wanted to see how it would make me feel to wear it every day for 30 days. Depending on the results, I may consider making a concerted effort to wear it daily.

My Top 10 Reads from 2023

I read some pretty phenomenal books in 2023— some of which will go on my list of all-time favorites. My top ten is dominated by nonfiction, yet funnily enough, novels hold the top two spots on my list. Five of the ten are memoirs, revealing a particular preference I have for that genre right now. In general, my reading ratios are 1 novel: 1 memoir: 1 additional nonfiction. I want to read more fiction this year.

Project Emily Advent: Day 25

My maternal grandfather, Papa, was a great and wild soul. He was particularly close with my sister, Bailey. He loved all of his grandchildren, and made a particular effort to show up in each of our lives. But Bailey was Papa's best girl. He was totally smitten with her. He was a friendly and warm person, but he could be bristly at times, and Bailey seemed to be the only person undeterred by his bad moods. She was every bit his equal in fortitude and stature of personhood.

Disclosure (Let’s be honest)
This website contains posts with affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission if you purchase a book I’ve linked— at no extra cost to you. I’ll always be upfront with you when a post is sponsored or a book is gifted. All books I recommend are books I actually read and enjoyed.
No joke.