What we’ve learned in dating long distance

I sat at the gate a half hour before I would board the plane and cracked open a copy of Harry Potter. It could quell the urge to pout about how I had to spend the morning: traveling 784 miles away from my boyfriend.

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The distance between my city and his is a difficult but worthy hurdle. A molehill that often feels like a mountain. An excuse I use to pout a lot at airports. And doing this — dating at a distance — has required teamwork to make work what wouldn’t work without effort.

3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Chris Donatto

3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

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This edition features Chris Donatto, who “has dreadlocks and a beard,” said his wife, Erika. “That’s really the most important thing about him.”

Except, she added, “he’s also a husband, a father, youth minister, and Adore missionary. And Batman. Yes, he’s Batman.” And Chris — ahem, Batman — is gracious today to share three lessons and two tips:

Do not quit.

In 2011, only five weeks before the end of what had been a difficult semester of grad school, I pined for finals week. Being in that place reminded me of what it feels like to aim for the finish line on a dragon boat.

Several springs ago, I spent a season on a dragon boat team and a day competing in the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Races. It is an art to paddle in sync with 19 other people, which you must do in order to stay on course. It is exhilarating. And exhausting.

The easy part — once you’ve trained — is starting strong. The hard part is staying strong for the rest of the race. Your job is to throw your arm into the air and put the paddle back into the water, over and over, in unison with your teammates. You get splashed and you get blisters. Sometimes your whole body hurts.

In or near Philadelphia? Let’s meet!

Save the date, Philly (and if you don’t live there, please send this to a friend who does!): I’ll speak about practicing chastity in a culture that calls it crazy at 7:30 p.m. April 15 (a Friday).

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The Theology on Tap-style event, hosted by Generation Life, will be held at the Knights of Columbus hall at 110 West Market St. in West Chester, PA.

Please don’t accept me as I am.

One day I will look my future husband in the face and say it: “Please don’t accept me as I am.” I turned 30 before I decided that I would do this — a decision that Timothy Keller helped me make.

In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Keller dissects, in part, the prevalent urge to resist relationships with people who won’t accept us as we are, whose involvement with us could disrupt the habits we established before we met.

The quest then is for a spouse who doesn’t just choose and love you as you are, but whose relationship with you doesn’t change you.

Which makes little sense for us who are Catholic, because we believe that marriage, like all vocations, should change us — we’re supposed to be holier at the end than we were at the beginning, because of grace and each other. We’re supposed to be committed to each other’s sainthood, not to maintenance of each other’s status quo.