May 17, 2012

Harden Not Your Heart

 
Crank up the estrogen, this one's scrawled by a girl.  Warning:  Curls is frighteningly pretty.   -Beard 
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Curls here.  Hi!  Beard has asked me to step in as guest blogger for the day. 

Some of you have inquired about whom I am and what I think of Beard’s diatribe posts.  I’ll do my best to be honest and forthright, but we may have to take this a post at a time.  Let’s start at the very beginning. 

Beard and I have been tight for 5+ years.   We initially met through a shared interest in running and, as we spent more time together, quickly bonded over witty stories and a plethora of other antics that solidified our friendship.   

Upfront, Beard was very open about his situation.  I admired the way he stood strong, despite the fact that life did not quite turn out the way he thought it would for him, or his daughter.  Plus, I immediately fell for the darling Pigtails.  I began to sense what a real family might mean for me.   

You see, I’ve never been married.  I’ve never dated anyone who had been through a divorce.  I’ve never dated anyone who had children.  You might be thinking, “Why should that matter”, but let me tell you, it does.  Just as I had been shaped by life experiences, so had Beard.  Things got real, real fast. 

I’ve not lived what Beard has been through.  As hard as I might try, it’s dishonest to say that I can completely relate, nor be expected to.  I can lend understanding, empathy, support, patience, and compassion, but I alone can’t be the fix-all for this windburn he writes ofFilling the void he feels isn’t going to instantly take away that kind of pain.  This gap between how it is (divorced) and how it is meant to be (marriage till death do you part) has haunted Beard for a long time and presented itself in the form of suffering.  It took me a long time to recognize and, eventually, accept this.  Is it tough to read of his trials?  You bet.  Do I want to help him?  Absolutely.  There is so much in regaining… 

Trust.  So delicate.  Absolutely essential to a healthy relationship.  But when that trust has been violated, or isn’t upheld to the highest of standards, it’s laboring to “harden not your heart” (Psalm 95).  Who wants to be vulnerable (again) when the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stakes are that high?  Once bitten, twice shy. 

Ouch!  For me, the one on the other side, it’s a tough pill to swallow.  I believe very much in the gift of marriage.  It’s a lot of emotional work to put aside my own feelings, as I feel I must, for the time being.   Yet some gifts are worth waiting for.  There’s nothing I want more than for Beard to (re)discover the joy that a true gift can and will bring. 

 




~Curls

69 comments:

  1. Beautiful <3 It's so lovely to meet you, finally.

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    1. Agreed.

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    2. Thanks - you're too kind, the both of you!

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  2. Beautiful! Thanks Curls.

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    1. Thanks for your comment - much appreciated!

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  3. Wow, beautifully written Curls. Beard, when a similar thing happened to me, I think the hardest thing for me to understand and accept was that it takes two to get married but it only takes one to end it. Something that helped me was when I read somewhere that most of our worry and anxiety comes from reliving scenes in our mind and trying to change the outcome somehow. Trying to reach into the past and tweak it so it makes sense. But, life is so fleeting. We don't have the luxury of spending our time in the past trying to fix it. That is the very meaning of futility. Every.single.day is a clean slate. Try with all your heart to claim yours. Oh, I don't know if any of that helps but my heart just aches for your pain. You are in my prayers.

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    1. Very well stated, Catherine. So many times we wish we could fix the past - woulda, coulda, shoulda. The best we can do, going forward, is to learn from the past. And create a lovely future!

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  4. Hum...this is absolutely none of my business, but you mentioned you and Beard have been tight for 5+ years. That's a significant investment of time, emotion, and commitment, particularly when you're young (as you two are to me, at 61 yoa). I'm wondering if either one of you believe that the pain everyone would go through (including Pigtails) if you "break up" would be much less than if you were married and then divorced? What immediately came to my mind when reading this was Cher's line to Nicolas Cage when she slapped him in the movie Moonstruck. You can see that 5 second clip on YouTube. Sorry, just my opinion - life is short, and the older you get, the shorter it is. Don't mean to offend and hope I haven't, but felt compelled to put my two cents in.

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    1. No offense taken, Deb. :) Had to pull up YouTube to make sure I knew precisely what Moonstruck clip you were referring to before I dropped a comment here. My response? Exactly. But, in defense of anyone who has been through something tough and unsettling, easier said than done, right? Out of a place of love, concern, and wanting the best for someone - it's the right advice to offer, although I'd deliver it in a kinder, gentler way than Cher chooses to (ha!). One has to accept in order to move on. Accept that the past wasn't all that person wanted it to be, but also accept that brighter days are waiting up ahead. The choice is theirs.

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    2. Deb, divorce pain is greater for all parties than dating breakup pain, by a long shot.

      Yes, it's been 5+ years, I'd say that Curls and I agree we are not yet ready to marry. To hasten that which we are not ready for would be foolish. I've talked to enough people and been through a failed marriage to know marriage often amplifies problems, not fixes them. I need to fix some things on my side before I'm ready to tie the knot.

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  5. Rachael5/18/2012

    Do I have to be the first one to say it? You two make a stunning couple!

    There, I said it.

    Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. I hope things work out for all of you. Sending kind thoughts and prayers your way. :)

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    1. Ah, Rachael, you're a sweetheart - thank you! I appreciate your kind words.

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  6. Love this as I can truly relate (long story, many moons ago) and yes, Curls is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Ms. Urban Wife! That's something I've been telling Beard for a long time - that he's not alone. Speaking of which, there's a huge difference between being alone in the literal sense vs. figurative sense (another post, another time). Yet, I know there are folks out there, married or not, who can completely relate to all, or parts, of this story.

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  7. linzee5/18/2012

    yay! i was so hoping to eventually find out that you were sweeties!

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    1. Linzee, your enthusiasm is contagious. I'm beaming!

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  8. Anonymous5/18/2012

    Wow. Am I the only one noticing that Curls' post is all about Beard? About his past, his hurts, what he wants, and the importance of 'putting aside' her own feelings? Beard seems like a really smart, funny, loveable, hardworking, good hearted man. And pigtails is the bomb. But this post is bugging me. FIVE YEARS? Obviously Beard needs to be sure he chooses wisely and he's got a kid in the mix so that goes double. But FIVE YEARS? What, exactly, would a SIXTH year of dating accomplish? Right now it seems like Beard enjoys having Curls auditioning endlessly for a gig as his wife. If Curls wants more out of the relationship than he does he gets the upper hand, he gets companionship, love and support without having to share financial or parenting decisions or the actual vulnerability of marriage. Beard, if Pigtails were, say thirty something years old and crazy in love with a really good man, but this man had been keeping her waiting for five years, and it was starting to break her heart, that her conversations were all about him and what he wanted and nothing about her own dreams, what would you say to this guy? What would you say to your daughter?

    If marriage and family are important to you Curls, and a man you're dating knows that and cares about you, a good man won't take five years of your time before making a decision. If I were in your shoes, I'd propose and see what happens. I know, Beard would probably *hate* it because it's so untraditional and he does not seem like he likes surprises, but the expression on his face will tell you everything. Certainly it will tell you more than a sixth year of dating. And if it's a tight smile followed by some crap about how he's just so wounded blah blah him blah blah more about him and he just needs more time, put on your running shoes and run as fast and as far your feet can take you. Yes the heartache would be hideous. But it's unclear to me how you could be any more beautiful, patient, loving and supportive. At a certain point it comes down to whether or not Beard believes in a God big and powerful enough to heal him and bless him with a second chance at happiness. And whether marriage is actually what he wants. Maybe he likes being a single dad and getting to make all of those decisions himself. Maybe he likes the idea of marriage, or the ideal of a perfect marriage, but not enough to actually do it again, to actually be in a real, messy, imperfect one with a real woman who has her own needs, opinions and priorities. Of course, if he really wants Pigtails to grow up and be happily married someday, in her own messy imperfect wonderful marriage, he'll man up and figure out a way to show her how it's done.

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    1. i can see what the person above is saying, but i waited 4 years to marry and i had zero windburn. zip. it was just us - 1st timers, taking our time. it was healthy for us to wait, we knew what we were getting into emotionally and how to communicate with one another. no reason to rush, in my opinion. but i'm one of several billion. ;)

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    2. Anonymous5/18/2012

      And you also did marry after four years- they are at five years and counting... and, furthermore, her post was ALL about his feelings, as if her own don't matter.

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    3. Remember that Curls started out.."but we may have to take this a post at a time. Let’s start at the very beginning."
      Good to meet you Curls, you write beautifully. I look forward to more Curls posts, please be open to that. And hijacking what is known as Beard & Pigtails! LOL!I am very interested to hear more on your point of view and know more about B & P from you. I've been married 12yrs, both of us only once and we've been together about 17yrs.(3 kids now, 7yrs old, 5yrs and 2yrs) I find relationship dynamics very interesting - and no judgement here.Angela.

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    4. Oh and I totally left off....Curls is indeed very beautiful! Nice picture!

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    5. I'll attempt to address this entire thread in one, tidy response. True to what at least one reader has pointed out (thank you, BTW), it was a challenge to write a single post that does Beard/my story justice. As a matter of fact, I told Beard this very thing when he first asked me to draft a piece from my perspective. I rewrote this introductory snippet in no less than six very different ways, but decided that focusing first on Beard seemed most appropriate, out of the gate. Is it perfect? Nah. Does it cover every aspect that I wanted it to? Not even close. Do I have more to share? Uh-huh. :) I simply felt it very important for you all to understand that I understand Beard's struggle. Regarding the 5+ years. Beard and I have deliberately taken it slow for what we both feel are very legitimate reasons. Thanks for offering candid thoughts though. I'm more than happy to elaborate.

      Special shout-out to Angela. Relationship dynamics. I soooo agree. It's the beauty of humanity - we should all take an interest!

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    6. Anon - See my response above to Deb regarding 5 years. With my first marriage, we did the traditional "date for 2 years, then marry 8 months later." It ended in failure. I'm pretty sure dating time period is not an accurate indicator of marriage success.

      5 years is a long time, need to get over some things that still bother me. I'm seeking help to fix problems. I've asked Curls in the past if she'd like to date others rather than waiting. She chose to stay, I'm glad she did.

      The line in Curls' post I didn't realize she was feeling:

      "It’s a lot of emotional work to put aside my own feelings, as I feel I must, for the time being."

      I don't want her to have to put aside her own feelings. We'll talk, this will open up good dialogue and change.

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  9. Beard: I didn't fully get over my first husband (who completely bailed after two years of marriage, but thankfully no kids involved) for probably 2 years INTO my 2nd marriage. I was over him, but I had a lot of anger for a long time. But I was able to let myself move on to a wonderful relationship in spite of it. My husband and our wonderful marriage has been very healing. He knew what he was getting into - he understood I had 'baggage', but he loved me and knew I was the one for him. I'm so very glad I took that leap and I am relieved to know that I did eventually get over the pain of my first marriage. We have had two children in the past 3 years and I think about how these little darlings wouldn't be here if we had waited for me to "heal". It's possible, just consider, that you may need to enter a new, healthy marriage to fully heal from your first marriage.
    Good luck to you both!

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    1. Your comment was obviously directed toward Beard, but I wanted to commend you on your resilience, Laura. Very uplifting!

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    2. Laura, that's an interesting approach, as I generally believe marriage amplifies problems rather than fixing them. But I don't doubt it worked in your case, and your story gives me hope. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  10. Anonymous5/18/2012

    I just wanted to tell you both that I hope you can both find happiness and get what you want/need, whether it is with each other or with other people. I also want to remind the other readers that you are REAL people working through your lives in a pretty public way here on the blog, and I'm not sure we should be weighing in with our opinions based on one blog post, as what would be best for us may not be best for you and we certainly do not have all the facts! I commend you for your willingness to lay it out there for the readers and hopefully it will help you to better sort through the whole process yourselves. Love ain't easy...

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    1. Well said. I'm applauding your level-headedness! I've accepted that the blogosphere invites discussion that ranges anywhere from positively engaging to downright uncomfortable. Plus, every facet in-between.

      As a fellow blog follower myself (B&P and plenty of others), I find that most comments are well-intentioned. Personally, it's a place where I've learned valuable lessons on perspective. Sometimes stirring the pot, even just a little, unveils the most introspective discoveries. Other times, it's just plain entertaining. Most of the time, I find that all of us are in this life together, one day at a time, ya know?

      Anonymous, thanks for the reminder, for all of us.

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    2. Anon - Opposing dialogue doesn't bother me, plus it picks at things that need to be picked at. I appreciate frankness and honesty, and this post and the responses will be helpful at opening scabs of feelings, discussion and change that need to be.

      Blogging is humbling, thank you for not tossing a stone.

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  11. Anonymous5/18/2012

    My advice to Beard: You can't go wrong when you marry your best friend. Beard, don't let her slip away -- she won't stick around forever! I will have 23 very happy years (and three great kids) with my best friend as of May 27th.

    My advice to Curls: It took my best friend a while (5+ years) to warm up to the idea of getting married too. I knew that one day, I would know that the time had come for a decision to be made. But I also decided that I wouldn't give BF an ultimatum unless I was ready to walk away. I was lucky because that time never came. My sister-in-law did reach that point, and told my brother-in-law that she had to stop seeing him. And it was really hard. And guess what? He figured out that he didn't want to lose her. They have been happily married now for ... 17 years? And have two great kids:-).

    Just ... don't let your past get in the way of seeing what a wonderful thing you have right in front of you! You're right Beard, Curls is frighteningly pretty! And I can tell that she is also a beautiful soul.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, "...don't let your past get in the way of seeing what a wonderful thing you have right in front of you!" Beautiful words. Thanks for taking the time and effort to respond! If not on relationships, good advice for so many life experiences.

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  12. Anonymous5/19/2012

    "rings" of influence (pt.1)??.....curls' introduction??......I am anticipating some exciting news.....love this blog!!!!

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    1. So Deb and Anon above are advising Curls to run, and you're saying put a ring on it. (Shaking head and slow applause)...I'm excited what the future holds.

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  13. Anonymous5/19/2012

    I'm not advising Curls to run! (Well, at least not yet). I'm just saying that you should ... "Snap out of it!" Be sure you treat Curls the way you would want someone to treat Pigtails -- and be really honest with yourself about that. Curls has stood by your side for a really long time now -- I think it's pretty clear she's a keeper!

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  14. What a great post, Curls. I'm glad to know there are women out there with loyalty, love, and understanding like yours, just as I am glad to know there are men out there with values and honor like Beard's. I know what it's like to wait for a heart's desire, and I believe it's worth it. All the best to you!

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    1. Thanks Debi - kindly noted!

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  15. It's just my opinion, but why would Curls stick around if she felt it wasn't worth it? So as long as they are open about their feelings towards each other and know what they are in for, we mustn't judge. We don't know their insides, we don't know about their conversations,... in fine we have no clue about the facts. I myself have been in a healthy, strong relationship with a loving man for almost 5 years now. He hasn't proposed yet and I doubt he ever will. It honestly doesn't bother me as I believe that marriage doesn't make a couple a good or even "better" couple. love is all that matters. why should a married couple be of more value than a happily "dating" couple? i don't get it. as if god would care! he's just happy two people are in love. he's given his blessings, i'm pretty sure. :)

    i'm only wondering what pigtails thinks of the situation... maybe she could fill us in?! :D aw, i'm just such a big fan of hers!

    thanks for being so honest on the bloggosphere! i admire that!
    all the best!

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    1. Anne, thanks for your thoughts. You're right. I wouldn't be here if there wasn't something pretty darn special calling me to do so. :) As for marriage? It is my desire to marry, have children and to grow old with my best friend. That sounds like the perfect way to live my days.

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    2. Anne - I see marriage as something powerful, a holy sacrament instituted by God as a symbol of love. Marriage between bride and bridegroom reflects the love between God and His church. For Curls and me, dating is much different than marriage. We don't live together, we don't sleep together, we don't share finances, we don't create children and we live separate lives. I wish to marry again.

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  16. Who says you ever have to get married? If it's not broke, why fix it right? From the blog posts and the comments and I'll I've read it really doesn't seem like either Beard or Curls have any intention of getting married at all. My mom met a man after my father passed away and they're very good "companions" and they've been together now for almost a decade. My mother could never get past my father anyways, nor her new partner and his divorced wife and they're never going to - so why force something? If marriage poses such issues - remember it is not a requirement. You make choices in life and sometimes people are just completely content with the status quo. I just wanted to comment on how we're introduced to a lady friend that Beard is dating and because they've been dating for maybe 5+ years (although it seems rather casual) that people automatically assume they need to be married? If Curls really wasn't happy she'd either A) leave, or B) give him an ultimatum. Unless she's just too scared to push him and risk losing it all but if she's not at that point yet - then why even look at marriage? Who says change is necessary and healthy? Time doesn't make things better, it just makes things different.

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    1. For me, marriage is not to be treated lightly. It's a commitment (for life). Pretty serious, but also highly rewarding. I certainly don't want to be forced, nor force another, to take that step until they're ready, able and willing to do to do. Too many times, well-intentioned others rush a good thing for the sake of others. I prefer it come 'round the way it should - when the couple is ready. The possibility of future children is also very important to me and that simply isn't going to happen (my choice) without marriage.

      Thanks for your perspective, Katelyn!

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    2. KatelynMade, see my response above to Anne. Marriage is quite a bit different than dating for Curls and me, we both see marriage as something desirable and the nest through which life is created.

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  17. Um, guessing you don't realize that Beard (and I'm assuming Curls) have moral values which mean they are not "living" as a married couple simply because they are dating. So in fact, at some point they will either get married or break up. And if they got married things would in fact change because they would be living under the same roof, sleeping in the same bed and having children (none of which they are doing now).

    My very cheap 2 cents, Beard - I know you are Catholic from reading through a number of your posts. The sacrament of marriage will provide you with many graces. The best advice I can give is to put your relationship in God's hands and He will help you determine the best path, as well as healing your heart from past hurts. And please do remember that life is short. . I lost both my parents in the last 4 years and I'm only in my 30s. Don't assume that you have all the time in the world to fulfill your dreams.

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    1. Yeah, Torey! I, as does Beard, strive to live up to morals, values, ethics and integrity. We're imperfect, of course, but the point is we believe it's the right thing to (try to) do. I'm also Catholic, so when you speak of marriage as a sacrament, well...I'm nodding, as I understand. Better yet, that's why Beard and I chose to diligently safeguard it so. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. You nailed it, Torey. You've read up on the blog, as I've been clear where I stand on marriage, why I haven't done the HMM (Horizontal Monster Mash) in 8 years since separation, and my throwback values.

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  18. You're right.......Curls is frighteningly pretty. =)

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  19. Jeremy Johnston5/21/2012

    Beard and Curls,
    I, like you, am a Christian and I want to thank you both for upholding the virtues of Holy Marriage and what it is supposed to be and the high and holy calling that it is. Beard, thanks for working this out with what should be and what is in a terribly fallen world. My prayer for you is that you can figure out the now, on this side of heaven and what that means for you and Pigtails. For Curls, I pray that Jesus continues to lead her to help heal you and restore you even if that does not mean marriage in the end. For you all, I pray nothing but the Lord’s blessing upon you.

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    1. Thanks dude!

      I often feel like an immigrant living among locals, don't quite fit in with the culture and what's accepted as "normal". That's fine by me, will continue trying to do the right thing. Things will turn out nicely in the end.

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    2. Thanks Jeremy - we appreciate your support!

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  20. Anonymous5/21/2012

    Hi Beard and Curls. I came over from YHL awhile back and have been reading your blog ever since. I wish you and Curls the best. My husband and I have been married for 9 years. We were highschool sweethearts and dated for 7 years before getting married. We have been Blessed with two amazing kids and hope to have more. Recently we were asked to become marriage mentors in our parish. (we are Catholic too) I thought you and Curls may benefit from the marriage prep materials that our parish uses. A workbook called "For Better and For Ever" by Ronald Ruhnke. It is a series of questions meant to lead to discussion on all major areas of life/marriage. The book is "Good News about Sex and Marriage" by Christopher West. Even after being married 9 years we are learning a lot from these two resources.

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    1. Christopher West's the man, I've seen him speak on JP II's Theology of the Body in person. Curls just got done with a TOB study in her book club. The Catholic teaching on marriage and sex is excellent, and when you piece together God's plan for how these two components intertwine, it's a beautiful thing. I'll take a look at "For Better and For Ever".

      Thanks for your help!

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    2. I'm not familiar with Ronald Ruhnke's work (will check into it). I am, however, a fan of Christopher West. His teachings on marriage are invaluable - I've been through a couple of his studies, as well as own a couple of his books. Excellent!

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  21. Anonymous5/22/2012

    Marriage doesn't amplify problems. People amplify problems. :)

    I do commend you for not shoplifting the booty, to quote Jerry Maguire (what's a day without a movie quote?). So many people belittle the choice to be abstinent, and it's refreshing to read about people who respect it. Not to condemn those who choose not to be abstinent; it's just about respecting everyone's choices, and in the case of you two, it really seems the right way to go.

    Last, my mother used to remind us of Matthew 10:13-15 all the time. "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet." Christ didn't wallow in his disappointment, he immediately moved on. Easier said than done, but living in sheltered pain for eight years does not sound like a plan God would have come up with.

    Bless you both.

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    1. Nicely worded, Anon! Love your last line and couldn't agree with you more. :) Thanks for chiming in!

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  22. I keep waffling on whether or not to comment on something so personal. I, too, look at the surface and think, it's been five years! You love each other! Get married! But I know it's not that easy.

    I applaud your mutual desire to honor the sacrament of marriage by not entering it lightly. And the suffering that goes along with waiting -- physically and emotionally-- for the intimacy of marriage. What you all are doing is hard work.

    I will pray for you both (and Pigtails) as you work and discern and wait. May God bless you richly both now and down the road...

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    1. Annie, you courageous commenter, you! :) For me, honoring the sacrament of marriage is the easy part - really. The tougher part is encouraging someone, who had a rough go of it the first time, that marriage can have a much different ending if they want it to.

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  23. Heather Tinsley-Fix5/22/2012

    Hooray we got to meet Curls! She IS frighteningly pretty! I love this good rich dialogue - there is a lot of wisdom (from different sides!) as well as heartfelt support in these replies. I want to add my thoughts to the crowd, though humbly. Here's what I want to say:

    Curls - I love your steadfastness, and honor that in you. I know there are many many conscious reasons to stick this out with Beard (Beard is great! Very handsome! Kind! A deeply GOOD man!). What I wonder is, are there some unconcious ones that you have not examined (like, longing for the perpetually unobtainable, or the woman (and her needs) are subject to the man and his needs)? I don't know but the replies that say "hey Curls what are you doing?" may hold a kernal of wisdom that could yield good self-introspection and help your relationship with Beard grow. It seems to me he loves you very much. Whether that is agape or eros is another matter.

    Beard - You are awesome, and great, in so many ways. Safety in (more or less) isolation has worked for you for a long time and this has been a Good Thing. But the longer you stay in the old armour the more it will rust around you. It may seem antithetical to remove that armour but I believe there is no other way to grow. And removing it is no easy task, so I do not mean to be flip. I don't know if you've read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but Lewis has a great example of this when Aslan has to use his claws to tear off the Dragon skin in which Eustace has become trapped. It hurts (it hurts like expletives), but Eustace is returned to his true self. I humbly submit that your windburn is not only the result of your past, but the result of your decision (conscious or unconscious) to refrain from growing beyond it.

    The Lord be with you. And also with Curls! :)

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    1. Heather, you bring up some excellent points for Curls (me!) to ponder. I'm no stranger to the two you've specifically mentioned above. There are certain aspects of this relationship that I can influence and others that I simply can not. It's frustratingly true.

      I wrote of putting "aside my own feelings". You commented about the woman's needs being "subject to the man and his needs". Not entirely sure if we're conveying a similar message here (please tell me if I'm way off-base), but I believe what we're each saying are closely related. I think you worded it better than I did though. Beard and I click on so many fronts, yet the windburn persists, lingers, haunts. Much of how our relationship plays out right now is relative to this very point, in my opinion. So much potential, yet hesitation...

      Thanks for your dose of wisdom!

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    2. Thanks Heather!

      The armor indeed is heavy, thick and rusty, yet not all that easy to remove. I've been burned by enough people close to me (family too) that I'm not ready to scrap it.

      Maybe it's best to say screw it, be willing to become vulnerable, and rip it off quick.

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  24. I love this blog and Curls all I keep thinking have you and these readers read Committed http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/committed.htm
    Be true to your heart ...in my opinion nothing else matters.

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    1. Have not read the book, but am familiar with the gist of the story. True, it does resonate here. Thanks for the connection!

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  25. I only know both of you by your writing, but based on that I am very glad you two found each other. I think you each have strengths the other can lean on.

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    1. Thanks Lynne - that's definitely seeing the glass as half-full! That's the way I prefer it. :)

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  26. I've really been struck lately with the fact that God honors our free will. He honors our bad decisions by letting us make them and letting us live out the natural consequences. But He also honors our Christ seeking decisions in the same ways! By seeking to honor Christ first, each other next, and yourselves third you will reap NOTHING but all of the goodness He has in store for you.

    I came out of an abusive relationship into the relationship that is now my marriage. I wasn't beyond the pain and fear when I got married. It takes time and there's nothing that can heal you but God. I can't say when that will be for Beard. But what I do know? When it's right, IT'S RIGHT! And you'll know.

    I married my husband after 4 months of knowing him because I knew it was right. God will honor the choices and commitment we have made first to Him and second to each other because He said He would. The ultimate purpose of marriage is not to make ourselves happy but to glorify God. When you take that seriously, so does He. Like another commenter said, it takes 2 to get married and 1 to leave. If you remain Christ centered nothing will make you fall.

    Nothing is wasted in Christ. Beard's pain, your mutual abstinence, your respect for the sanctity of marriage... You'll know when it's time--either to stay or go!--and God will honor your free will.

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  27. Thanks Lauren - I appreciate all you've written! I believe very much in free will, as you've so eloquently stated. When people question why others make poor choices or find it in themselves to (what feels like, intentionally) inflict pain on others, it's difficult to comprehend. For me, free will softens the blow. People have a choice. They either try to live up to Christ's standards honestly (failing along the way, but learning as they go) or they choose to lower their standards and normalize dysfunction. I adore your words and am so happy you found marriage once again!

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  28. Anonymous6/01/2012

    Thank you both for beginning to share your story with us. I appreciate your values and beliefs. Pigtails is going to grow up to be an amazing woman because of the wonderful examples she has been blessed with in her life. I have been reading for a while now and finally decided to share a little of my own story. I hope that it may add to your discussions with each other.

    A long time ago, the man that I had loved for 10 years and been married to for 3 years walked out. Luckily, we had no children. Soon afterwards, I met an amazing man who was unlike any other man I had ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to accept and understand his patience and kindness. I found it shocking and unbelievable. However, I began to tell myself that I could not punish him for things that others had done to me - countless times I have spoken those words quietly in my own head. The walls began to come down and it was wonderful. A safe place like I had never known existed in our relationship. We will soon celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Our marriage is not perfect, and neither are we. No one is and no marriage is. If you see a marriage that appears to be perfect, there is probably something you do not know. That's okay. We are not supposed to know all of someone's private affairs. As long as a couple continues to put in the effort for the relationship and the family that has been built, I totally respect them. I respect you for handling yourselves in such a Christian, moral, & respectful way. Beard - I pray that God will give you what you need to move forward and take away the heartache you have suffered. Curls is a wonderful lady. I am happy you & Pigtails found her :)

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  29. I know that I am late to this post, but I just wanted to mention one thing. Perhaps it has already been addressed, but I did not read all of the comments so I am sorry if it is a repeat. I am wondering how Pigtails is taking everything. 5 years is a very long time, and I do not know how much time she has spent with Curls, although it sounds like some since Curls is quite fond of her. My concern is with how she is perceiving everything. Pigtails looks to be around 9 or so, so if she spent time with Curls in the first year of knowing her, she has been around her for 5 years as well. Even if she doesn't see Curls all the time, she is still a significant presence in her life after 5 years, and she must have some thoughts and questions about it. Pigtails is still quite young and forming her ideals based on the world around her at a rapid rate. What does she think of everything? She may not call Curls her mom, but does she feel that way? And if she does, does she wonder why you are not married? I am not trying to come down on either of you and say your wait is wrong. But I just wonder if Beard has talked to Pigtails about the situation in a 9 year old way, and shared his reasoning in what is appropriate for Pigtails. I don't believe that to marry just for the sake of Pigtails is the correct thing, obviously Beard, you have done an amazing job with her all of these years. But I do think her mental health needs need to be considered as well as Beard's needs in dealing with the previous marriage and moving forward. If you both feel that God wants you to be together, and it sounds like you do, given the amount of time, sometimes you need to have the trust that God knows what He is doing, and take that leap of faith. If you don't feel that way, or still have some significant doubts, I wonder at a relationship for the long run. You sound like you have an amazing best friend relationship that could be something forever, but I wonder at the reasons of continuing to put it off, even knowing that Beard has dealt with some major things in his past relationship. I am not trying to judge, please don't take it that way, more of a mind dump as I write some thoughts. I do wish you all the best regardless of a marriage or not. It takes a lot of restraint to be pure in a relationship, and a lot of strength to be there for one another in the way that you two are. Regardless of what happens, God causes all things to come together for good for those who trust him. (Can't remember the exact verse that I am paraphrasing!)

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  30. Anonymous8/14/2012

    She's awesome!

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