Chaplain encourages Soldiers, spouses to take love dare

Story and photo by Spc. Michael V. Camacho
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Chaplains with the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team began to circulate "The Love Dare" in all of its battalions around Jan. 15 to prepare their Soldiers to redeploy and reunite with their spouses in the approaching weeks.

"The Love Dare" is a book that became a popular marriage enrichment tool for couples that want to improve and strengthen their marriage; it was highlighted in the 2008 independent film "Fireproof," said Maj. Terry Partin, brigade chaplain with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 155th HBCT, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

Divorce rates are high in marriages with one or both spouses deployed, increasing the need for tools to help Soldiers prepare as they reunite with their spouses when they return home, said Partin, a Richton, Miss., native. The U.S. military puts emphasis on preserving the marriages of its service members and provides a wealth of helpful material to Soldiers, he said.

The last time the 155th HBCT returned from a deployment, several divorces followed in the next few months, Partin said. With the high recommendations and positive reviews "The Love Dare" received, Partin said he encouraged the unit's chaplains to use any material available to aid its Soldiers in their marriages.

"The Love Dare" is an in-depth resource, Partin said.

"It challenges those willing to take the love dare to go on a 40-day journey," said Partin. "It gives you different directions to show affection toward your spouse."

The dare is not as easy for couples split by deployments, considering the physical distance between the partners, he said. The major goal is to expose them to the materials and ideas before they redeploy to lessen the possible conflicts when they get home, said Partin. The exposure Soldiers gain from this material encourages them to consciously decide to work for their marriage, he said.

A healthy marriage requires skills that are not developed over night, especially a healthy military marriage, Partin said.

The first two years of marriage are the hardest, he said.

As marriages endure and develop, they can become stronger and longer lasting, said Partin.

Multiple deployments put a strain on marriages through time spent apart, said Partin.

This is why there are so many tools and services offered to Soldiers, he said.

Both the book and the film "Fireproof" are Christian in background but the ideas discussed are still relevant to any marriage, Partin said. They contain examples to help spouses connect or reconnect, whatever the case may be, he said.

Partin said Soldiers carry out the daily dares despite the physical distance. They put forth effort to show their spouses a sign of love and affection.

It is how much effort they will put into their marriage that will really effect its development, said Partin.

Spc. James Douglas, a unit clerk with 155th HHC who has been married for nearly nine years, completed "The Love Dare" prior to his overseas deployment to strengthen and maintain the health of his marriage. Douglas said he plans to use it again on his return home.

"Reading the book put a lot into perspective," said Douglas, a Vardaman, Miss., native. "How to respect and honor what a husband needs in a marriage and what his wife needs from her husband."

"The Love Dare" uses practical exercises spouses can do to show tokens of affection and respect to their partner, said Douglas. Actions speak louder than words when communicating emotions, he said.

"Action is the proof of love," said Douglas. "We can't make up for the time we missed, but we can make the most of the time we have together."


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