What is the language of love?

This is a joint letter that we received this week.  Please bear with the writers as they try to sort through what they are trying to say.

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I have to admit that I am a little confused about your blog.  I was never in ATI so I cannot claim to be an X-ATI guy or claim any real knowledge of the Advanced Training Institute.  While I am a Christian, and I was homeschooled, I do not understand the realm of ATI’s impact on lives. 

I am now trying to develop a friendship with an X-ATI girl such as yourself, and your blog has shed some light on some of the struggles that she is facing.  Since reading some of the letters that people have written to you, I have begun to put some of her comments into context and my heart breaks to comfort her broken heart.  

I do not really know where to begin our story.  Our “relationship” (or lack thereof) is like a roller coaster ride where she’s on the first hill, and I’m still standing somewhere in line.  Every 3 days she has a need to question the sincerity of my efforts and whether I do really like her.  X-ATI girl, I do.  Please tell me how I can get her to understand this.  

She begins to speak about a rain shower, an umbrella, the 10 unchangeables, and my being a spiritual leader, and I get lost in her language while I try desperately to understand what she means.    I do not understand courtship.  I do not understand her parent’s authority in her life (she is 28).  I do not understand the guilt that she faces daily.  All that I see when I look at her is this wonderful, independent, strong, Christian girl whose wholesome morals and positive outlook on life have changed mine for the better. 

X-ATI Girl, please tell me how I can get this message across to her: I am in love with this woman.  I need her to trust that I love her more than anything in life.  I do not care what her past was, I do not care what her present is, it doesn’t matter to me who her parents are or how many siblings she has.  I love her and I just want her to let me love her. 


Hopeful in Halifax

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I do not know how to explain to the non-X-ATI guy where I am coming from.  Of course he must be trying to deceive me; I have never had anyone “love” me like this before now.  I doubt his sincerity daily because his actions are so out of the ordinary for me.  He sends me flowers on a regular basis.  He buys my dinner every time we spend time together.  He cooks for me (and cleans without making any “that’s a girl’s job” jokes).  He calls me just to check in and see if I’m okay.  He always comments on my being able to do anything in life that I want to do even when it is a career that I have always believed to be un-lady-like.  He tells me all of the time that he feels so lucky to have met me.  (Isn’t the fact that he’s even using the word “luck” a bad sign?) 

The only relationship I have had previously was when I was 15 and a man approached my father about the possibility of courting me.  This man had been previously married, his wife had left in a terrible act of defiance, and he desperately needed my help to raise his 5 children…oh yeah, and he felt it was God’s will that he court me, too.  After 5 hours of careful consideration, my parents granted him permission to court me, and we began sitting together in church.  From the onset of our relationship, he did everything that I had grown to expect in a man.  When one of the children got upset in church, I took them out.  He never changed a diaper while he was in my presence.  He never cooked a meal (that was a girl’s job after all).  He began to believe that it was not God’s will that I be allowed to drive, and after sharing this conviction with my father, my car was quickly sold to the highest ATI bidder.  This man was 18 years my senior and eager to share his thoughts on my life actions, making sure that I did not make the same mistakes that he did in his youth.  It was during this time that most outside influences were removed from my life.  

We courted for 3 years before he told me one day that God had clearly shown him that he should not marry me and our courtship should end.  I felt used and abused by both him and my parents.  How could this have ever been God’s will?  Who was faking it?  Who was lying?  Who just didn’t care what happened to me?  While I was relieved that I did not have to marry him, my emotional attachment to his children and his life ran deep.  The separation felt like the tearing apart of a cloth that had been woven together.  My parents felt as if the end had been my fault – if only I had been able to be more submissive, maybe he would have married me. 

 One of the things that I find most confusing about the non-ATI-guy is that he just doesn’t care what my past was.  In fact, he tells me often that he can’t imagine my being with anyone else, and that my talking about past relationships is hard for him to listen to.  While he will and does listen to me, he asks me that I not tell him details because it pains him too much.  Does he not care that I am now a broken woman?  Doesn’t he need to know what he’s getting into?  I feel like I am betraying him.

I have now moved out of my parent’s home and have my own small apartment in my hometown.  The thought of giving up my freedom scares me terribly.  I know that the non-X-ATI guy tells me that he is sincere, but how can I believe this?  How can I trust that he too is not just using me?  Granted he has no children, he does have a job, and he is only two years from my own age, but I still have nightmares about letting my heart go to him.  

Have you experienced any of this?  Can you help me?

Praying for God’s blessings and freedom,

Hurting in Halifax


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7 Responses to “What is the language of love?”

  1. mdiber05 Says:

    I am not an X-ATI girl . I am just an old woman who got tipped onto this by a young friend. If you can let me give you a little advice. When you read your Bible, look for the grace of God, for his promises and write them down for yourself and believe them. The Bible is full of mercy and grace from the God who does not treat us as our sins deserve. I am also reading a book called “Relationship: a Mess Worth Making” by Paul Tripp and Tim Lambert. They try top be very honest about who we are in Christ and when we begin to understand that it helps us to know how to approach different relationships. But really, to know what the Bible says and believing it, is the only thing that is going to get you through this mess.

  2. DragonKat Says:

    I’m often agast at how parents, the hard-core courtship types, think that their control in the marital decisions of their children will “spare” the children pain. Guess what – finding the right person, falling in love, growing from infatuation to love to romance to mature relationships is a lifelong process filled with challenges, delights, agonies, laughter, tears, upheaval and compromise. No amount of control on anyone’s part can change that. My friends with happy courtships had miserable first years of marriage. I personally rejected my parents wishes that I would court and ended up living with my husband for several years before we decided to marry, and am now happily married. And this courtship described in the above letter is really terrifying – the age difference and expectations of this grown man courting a very young woman is kind of creepy. The pain she experienced, and the way she was exploited offends me deeply – all in the name of “doing it God’s way”. Baloney. My advice to these two writers is, always be honest with each other – if your desire to be together can withstand the foibles of your two personalities, you’re a good match for each other for now.

  3. mdiber05 Says:

    I’d think if God was into sparing pain He would skip having a relationship with us! I’m totally with DragonKat. This relationship with the older man who is not courting her, but using her for ‘women’s work’ and then dumping her is exploitative. Woe to the parents who are blind to that.

  4. alphadog46 Says:

    Dear X-ATI Girl,

    I had no experience with ATI until meeting a brilliant young woman interning with my firm three years ago. She was working her way through college and sought me out for advice and encouragement. I was confused about her insecurity at first, but after she shared some sad and funny stories with me about ATI, I began to understand why she needed reassurance from a person 38 years her senior.

    Well, we have become friends and I have admired my X-ATI colleague as she worked hard to pass the CPA exam and matures as a professional in a major firm. She is flourishing without the constraints that she rebelled from when she became an X-ATL girl, too.

  5. angela Says:

    Ok… is this post in jest or is it fer reel?

    Sad that I have to ask, because the whole setup of courtship a la Gothard is only sex trafficking without the sex.., yet.

  6. Robin Garrett Says:

    Yikes! This one hit too close to home, as I suddenly remembered a guy that my parents let “court” me when I was 17 and he was 36. He dumped me after a few weeks, because I was too “immature” and didn’t follow his “guidance”. He was also mad because I “disobeyed” him one time: we were at his house picking up food for a church social and he told me not to look in his bed room because it was a mess. Naturally, being a teenager and thinking that he was joking, I went and took a look (the only discernible mess was that the bed was unmade). Ticked him off royally and earned the “immature” tirade and subsequent break-up.

    Soooo glad I got out of that one…word around town is he still has never married, wonder why?

  7. Robin Garrett Says:

    I feel bad for the Halifax couple. I wonder how long the girl has been living on her own and how much she still believes the things she learned in ATI? I don’t see any way for a still-involved ATI person to become successfully romantically involved with a non-ATI person- the mindset is too different and despite love, will cause friction and chaos in the relationship. A relationship must be built on mutual trust, beliefs, and affection and I don’t see that in these letters at this point in time.

    That said, if the ATI girl is beginning to question the way she was brought up and is willing to begin to seek other points of view, there may be hope for the relationship. It would take a LOT of patience and stick-to-it-ive-ness of the part of the gentleman to wait for his love to come around, even partially, to his way of thinking. She is going to need a ton of time and space to work through her grief (losing a belief system or even part of one is like losing a loved one), anger, probably depression, and begin to put her life back together again. At the end, she may appreciate his devotion or she may feel that she has grown into another person, not the one he fell in love with. Or he may feel that way.

    Even relationships that are begun with perfect harmony of belief systems, long-term goals, and mutual love have experienced rocky times and/or dissolution. This relationship doesn’t have any of that going for it. So complicated…

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