Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Nervous About YSA Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 17, and will be 18 in May, and I have recently started attending institute and a few YSA activities.

I've been really excited to go into YSA but things that have happenned have made me scared of YSA, dating and just growing up in general.

At the institute I attend one of the teachers is an RM who is about 22/23.

The other week two of my friends had ditched me (a guy and a girl who are practically going out, but not) and so I was sitting by myself after institute waiting for them to come back so we could go.

Anyway the teacher came up to me and started talking to me.

We spoke for a while and then he said he had to go.

I thought it was really nice of him to just randomly come up and talk to me and I kinda hoped I'd get to speak to him again.

A few days later I was at uni for the first time and I saw him but he didn't see me.

Then a few days later again I saw him and he came over and talked to me and my cousin who I was with. I figured he was just being nice, which you'll probably tell me he is, and so I thought nothing much of it.

Then last night (also a few days later) there was a YSA dance.

I don't know if I was allowed to be there or not - but I was.

My parents didn't really want me to go because they are worried that some guy will want to marry me or something and they think I am too young.

Which is fair enough - I don't want to be married at 18 or 19 either!

But I thought they were just being silly and went anyway. I saw my institute teacher there and while I was standing with a group of friends (including my cousin which he already knew) he came up and started talking to me.

Eventually my cousin was included in the conversation. But to start with it was just the two of us. After a bit he had to go find someone and so he left us. BUT before he left he said that we should meet up on campus sometime and asked for my number.

Which I gave to him without thinking. My friends all looked at me like I was crazy and I started to freak out.

Later on in the evening there was a slow dance and him and this other guy came up and asked me and my cousin to dance.

So basically I am incredibly scared/nervous/freaking out that I did something wrong; that this guy might want to date me; and that I'm way too naïve for YSA.

I haven't got a problem with this guy he's nice and we share a lot of the same interests but I have not had much casual dating practice let alone enough to start being looked at as a possible future companion!

I might just be over-reacting but I'm sure you have some advice for someone like me? 

Thanks,

- Nervous




Dear Nervous,

Yes, you're over reacting.

My advice is to breathe.

And if this Nice Guy ever actually asks you on a date, and I hope he's smart enough to do that, then tell him it will have to be a Casual Group Date until you turn 18 in May.

Simply going on a date doesn't mean you two are headed to the Temple.

It's just a date.

There's nothing wrong, by the way, with an 18 year old girl going out with a 21-22 year old guy.

And if she's mature enough and has done her due diligence, there's nothing wrong with a 19 year old woman getting married, either.

Let's see what happens.

He hasn't even asked you out yet.

For now, relax and enjoy this time in your life.

Dating is fun!

Most of the time . . .

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Prom Date Drama - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your super prompt response.

Accurate and blunt as usual, I love it.

As pathetically expected, the one seeking the help knew the answer all along and just needed the proper slap in the face to truly grasp it.

I'll swallow my pride and take the idiot comment, too haha.

I will definitely aim for the safety in numbers.

BTW, your opinion on dashboard time on the way to joining up with the group?

For this one, it'd be about 5 mins, but other events sometimes show a 20+ min distance between people's houses.

Oh and you have any clue at what's going on in her head?

I did think she liked me for a bit there, but not so sure anymore.

I have a hunch you'll prob tell me what I already know again.

Thanks,

Overcoming Temptation




Dear Overcoming,

My brother, I don't even have a clue what's going on in Sister Jo's head, and we've been together for nearly 25 years!

I'm sure she did like you, now it could be one of a billion things.

She doesn't want to get too close . . .

She likes someone else but still wants to go to prom . . .

She heard a rumor that you like someone else . . .

Today is green toenails day and she didn't know and painted hers purple . . . who knows?!?!?

Unless she tells you, you may never know.


If it means anything, you're not alone when it comes to bad prom experiences.

My own are, of course, are horrific (or funny, depending on your point of view).

***

This year one of my boys asked a girl to prom . . . gave her flowers, she hugged him, said she was excited to go, and then four hours later caught him at school to say she changed her mind and was going to go stag with a bunch of her friends.

Two weeks later she accepted a prom invitation from one of his buddies who never knew that my boy had asked her.

(The buddy had a lousy time, by the way, while my guy had a great time taking another wonderful girl who typically doesn't get asked to stuff like that because she flies under the radar. They went with a group of my son's friends. Good Group, Great Time.)

***

Another one of the Jo Boys asked a girl who said yes, and then two days later said yes when a different guy asked her.

So my boy "let her off the hook".

The next week he broke down and asked a girl that kept more-than-obviously-hinting (her mom actually called my son and said "so, when are you finally going to ask my daughter to prom?") that she wanted him to ask.

He did the whole "creative asking" thing, she was excited. They went with her group of friends and he had an :"okay" time. After he dropped her off she went to an "after prom" party and "got back together" with her ex-boyfriend.

She still hopes they can "be friends" though . . .

(Can you believe that?!?)

***


As for "Dashboard Time" (love the phrase, btw), the rule is that no girl gets picked up until there's at least two people already in the car, so you should be picking up one of your buddies first.

I know it's a hassle.

Sometimes the Jo Boys have to start the round of pickups an hour or so before the date.

But it's so much better than the alternative.

Consider this: what happens if the girl decides to tell a different version of events?

What if your innocent 20 minute drive gets turned into "he pulled over to the side of the road and started groping me"?

Your word against hers, and brother, when that happens the guy always loses.


A guy's got to be careful.

Have fun!

And Be Good.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dealing with Divorce - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks you for replying back.

What is this conference talk that President Faust gave?

I understand I have to talk to my dad and tell him how I feel. I understand I can use the word "you".

I actually learned that a couple days ago in school.

I’ve tried twice now to tell my dad this and to let him know how I feel but in the end he always comes up with his wife.

I actually gave his wife a chance to get to know her.

Over the summer after my dad got remarried he took me and my sisters to Lagoon.

Well he showed up with his wife of course.

I said to myself, I will give this lady a chance, I can’t judge her right away.

Well I went on rides with her and I found out she is studying to be a nurse practitioner just what I wanted to be.

We ended up having a good time and she asked me if I wanted to come with my sisters and spend a weekend at her house.

I agreed.

I told my mom this when I got home and she got really mad.

She didn’t talk to me because she told me how can you go there?

It’s like congratulating your dad for what he has done to me and too you.

You can’t let your dad feel happy about his new family and you supporting him.

This probably makes my mom sound like a really mean person but she’s not.

She’s just really hurt about her divorce.

I went though and decided to meet my dad’s new family and give them a chance.

I knew his was going to be hard for them.

To have three strangers now going to live with them every other weekend.

I knew they were probably feeling like how I was.

We got there and everything was going good.

My three sisters and I got our room together. Upstairs next to my dad’s and his wife’s room.

We got to meet her daughter first she’s 16 . . . around my age.

I said hi really friendly but she gave me a forced smile and went to her room.

I didn’t see her for the rest of the time there.

My dad’s wife treated us really good.

My dad cooked for us and we eat in the table with his wife also.

Things were going really good.

I went into our new room to do homework.  Hours passed and then I hear a knock on my door.

It was her son who is 18 also around my age.

He told me to quit hiding in my room and too go get some ice cream with the rest of the family.

I didn’t like the way he said family but I went anyways.

He was really nice and we talked a lot.

I stayed that weekend but by the end I wanted to go home.

I saw that my dad’s wife had a really strong personality and acted like my dad a lot.

She was really nice but I just didn’t feel comfortable.

I never went back to my dad’s house.

I listened to what my mom was saying and didn’t want to talk to his wife.

Whenever he would pick up my sisters I would go out and say hi to both of them.

Me and my dad kind of drifted apart because of this.

I feel like it was my fault.

Well a couple months ago I got a new phone.

My dad said it was used but I was ok with it.

I went through the phone and found some pictures.

They were of my dad’s wife.

It turned out it was her phone.

Well I went to go type a new text message but found out there was some saved messages.

I went and looked through them.

I found messages from a year ago during the time my dad was living with us and my parents were together.

I did the math.

My dad’s wife kept on telling him to go and meet her at this place to go with her.

Then I found a text saying that they had "it" and how great it was.

This disgusted me and this is why I hate her.

I feel like she made my dad fall away from the Church and take the gospel away from him.

That’s why I can’t see her anymore and how I don’t speak to my dad.

I never told him I found these text messages and I don’t know if I should.

That’s mostly the reason I don’t go and see my dad.

I feel disgusted by her because she was dealing with a married man at the time.

I’m going to talk to my dad and keep praying that god will forgive him.

That he will realize what he is doing.

But I can’t forgive my dad’s wife.

What do I do about this?

- Name Withheld  




Dear NW,

Well this whole thing is certainly going to be a "growing up" experience for you, isn't it?

(BTW - please forgive the college teacher in me, but you have GOT to learn to proof-read your emails before you send them - makes It very difficult to read when you don't - I'm not certain If you're understanding me or just not careful In your typing)

(To clarify what I said before about talking to your dad:  DON'T use the word "you". )

And I'm not saying that the woman isn’t a husband stealing adulteress, but as far as your personal experience goes, she's been quite nice to you.

Stop blaming it all on her.

Your problem is with your dad.

You need to focus on him.

You'll never mend any of this stuff if you keep it all inside.

Tell him about the messages you found on the phone.

Tell him how much it hurts you as his daughter to know that he was having sex with your step-mom while he was still married to your mother.

Remind him that a father has a responsibility to act like an adult, not be so selfish.

Tell him that you don't think it’s fair or right that his guilt about breaking one of the Ten Commandments should be channeled into anger at your mom or distancing himself from you and your sisters.

Your step-mom isn’t guiltless, but your dad's the one that has hurt you.

Don't let him off the hook; make an effort to see him, and If he's with her or anyone else, tell him that you need to talk to him privately right away.

If he weasels out, then try again next time. 

If he keeps dodging you . . . well, that's his problem, not yours.

You'll have made an honest effort.

Someday, when you have a better relationship with her, perhaps when enough time has passed, you can pull your step-mom aside and tell her how you feel about what she did.

Sorry for the change in tone, but when adults commit adultery it really bothers me.

It’s a purely selfish act, putting one's gratification ahead of covenant and commitment and family, and I'm not very tolerant of it.

Repentance is between the individual and the Lord, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are supposed to sit around and act like nothing happened.

Good luck, and remember:  your new step siblings probably feel exactly the way you do about all of this.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 18, 2014

Writing the Bishop a Letter

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a student at BYU-Idaho and as soon as I’m done visiting my grandparents and return to Rexburg I'm going to find out who my Bishop is and resolve problems in my life.

I've been doing some pretty dumb stuff and I'm so afraid to talk to him.

But, I need to.

I've decided I want to write a letter and give it to him to read and then meet with him.

I'd be more likely to tell him everything and not chicken out.

Is this a stupid idea?

- Not Quite Ready to Talk




Dear Friend,

If it helps you say what needs to be said and do what you need to do, then I think writing down your thoughts is a great idea.

Deliver the letter in person and stay with him while he reads it.  Then, once he does, it will be easier for you to both talk.

If you write the letter on your computer, make sure that no one can get to it, and don't leave printed copies anywhere.

May the Lord bless you with the strength and courage you need.

I'm proud of you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prom Date Drama: - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Well, prom is this Friday. Yes, it's very late in the year (so is graduation, unfortunately! imagine!).

I live in a low Mormon population area and I've got a non-Mormon for a date.

I'll have to have my guard up, I know.

I've already had an amazing time at Church prom as well as two other school proms Church friends have asked me to, so this last one (my school's this time) is really just for formality since I'm in Student Government and have to go.

The thing is, my date's acting weird. I thought I could usually can read girls fairly well, but I'm not quite sure with this one.

I kinda like her, but I've probably made things awkward for her and I'm probably making things more complicated than they have to be.

I've been debating whether or not to do anything about it all year.

I'm a big Casual Group Date supporter, but don't really feel like going through the trouble of introducing it to school girls who definitely don't get it.

I used to have her in half my classes and asked her to be my date like two months ago, but since then, some classes have ended and now we don't see each other much. (though she lives around the corner, pathetic I know)

I'll text her now and then and see her in the hallway some, but she doesn't ever text first and doesn't always seem that into the conversation.

(I hate the drama and miscommunication texting innately brings.)

Whenever the subject of prom comes up (planning logistics even), she seems to dread it and has told me she has some reason for feeling this way that I will never know.

She's getting better about the issue, but I sure could live without the drama.

I've kinda gone back and forth over time with my attempts to pursue our friendship.

I want to get to know her and spend time with her, but I don't want her to get the wrong idea thinking I want a relationship, or even get her friends thinking it.

As tempting as the proposition sounds, I know I'm better off without the headache of a relationship, even at the end of senior year.

We're headed to colleges thousands of miles apart in the fall anyways, so it would be pointless.

Background: She's not normally drama-prone, which is partly why I asked her. She's never had a boyfriend, but she's sure social enough to have been there. It's actually something I find rather attractive. It's not that common to find a cute, super smart, fun, athletic, non-awkward girl who hasn't wasted a few years with boyfriend drama at school. She's a pretty good girl, but she curses a bit and I think she's been pressured into drinking before. It's hard to find someone who hasn't.

I personally find her friends to be annoying, but bearable.

My friends at school have goaded me, sometimes in front of her, about going after her.

("You've got to kiss her at prom! It'll make her night!" "Hey look, it's your prom date. She's mad cute.")

My feelings being torn between liking her and knowing I should hold back, it's created an awkward moment or two. Maybe this is the real issue here for her, I don't know.

Your take on the situation?

Esp, what do you think is going on in her head?

How should I act that night, just casual friends or a little more (I wish but know it would have consequences)?

Thanks,

Perplexed but Tempted




Dear Tempted,

I can't decide if you're an idiot, or you think I am . . .

Member or non, ALL of your dates, including Prom, need to be Casual Group Dates.

Even if you think the girls at school "don't get it", you need to play by the rules.

And, let's be honest here, pal, the reason you want to break the rules with this girl is your hoping that being in a non-group situation might provide the opportunity to ... do some kissin'.

The worst kind of temptation is the kind that we go looking for, the kind that we intend to pursue or give in to should the opportunity present.

I don't think there's anything wrong with liking her, but I certainly hope that you plan on going as part of a group for prom.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dealing with Divorce - Part 1

Dear Bro. Jo,

Hello!

Well first off I want to say that I really like your blog and all the advice you give thank you for all of it. It has helped me a lot!

Well I have a problem now that I’m waiting help with.

It’s been around a year and a half that my parents separated and about 6 months sense they divorced.

It has been really hard on me and my sisters and mom.

I don’t show it at all, I don’t cry In front of my mom or my sisters. So they think the divorce of my parents is just fine with me.

But it really isn’t.

I’ve been In and out of depression for a while and everything is going wrong in my life.

My grades have been going down a lot, I sleep for hours because I don’t want to wake up and face my life that I have.

It’s really hard.

I sometimes pray to God that he will just let me die and not let me go through all this.

My dad got remarried In July.

Just two weeks after my parents got there official divorce.

I was in big shock that he did this right away.

I wasn’t excited at all.

I was mad.

He made my mom go through so much pain and suffering and now he’s all happy and getting a new family.

I felt like he was replacing me and my sisters.

He didn’t love me anymore.

I didn’t talk to my dad for about 3 months before he got remarried.

I was angry with him and hated him more than anything.

When I finally decided to fix things with him.

The first thing he told me is I’m getting remarried. You’re going to have a new mom and three new siblings.

I told him straight up that I would never call his wife my mom ever.

I didn’t want to meet my step siblings cause there nothing to me.

He asked me to go to his wedding but luckily it fell on the day we were up at girls’ camp.

I never went to my dad’s wedding and only meet my dad’s wife and her kids’ once.

I don’t like her at all.

Because of her my dad is not with us anymore.

He left the Church.

I looked up to him so much and I considered him my hero.

He was so strong in the gospel.

He would be the first one up on Sunday mornings.

He would help with the sacrament sometimes.

I looked back at his scriptures he left at our house when he left and it had so many scriptures marked.

But he decided to deny this Church after and say this wasn’t real to him and he doesn’t want to hear about it anymore.

Right now I don’t talk to my dad.

He doesn’t call me anymore or send me texts.

I feel like he forgot about me.

He doesn’t really care about me anymore.

I go to counseling every week.

Last week my dad had to come with me so I could talk to the counselor and him about my feelings.

He never showed up.

This isn’t like my dad at all.

His wife is taking over him and controlling him.

He’s like a puppet to her.

She’s controlling and just a mean person.

I really miss my dad and having my parents together.

I wish I had my family forever.

I think now about my graduation of high school that’s coming up. How I’m not going to have my parents together.

Also my wedding, this really breaks my heart thinking about this.

I wanted my parents together and in the temple with me.

I need help on how to talk to my dad again and help him get back to the Church.

That’s really all I want my dad together and him to go back to the church and have the gospel and testimony he ones had.

I need help please.

Thank you,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Sometimes life stinks, and few things stink more than divorce.

You may be too young to remember, but President Faust gave a talk once where he talked about one time when, as an attorney, he helped a woman with her divorce.

The guy she was married to was awful, and President Faust thought this was one of those rare times when it really would be better if they split up. 

Years later he saw the woman and asked how she was doing. In a nut-shell she said that as lousy as her marriage was (and It was pretty bad) she wished that she had stayed married because that was less painful than all of the garbage that comes with splitting up.

No matter what life throws at us, ending life never solves anything.

We think It will make the heartache go away, and It won't.

What happens is our earthy torment becomes replaced by the eternal sorrow of having thrown away one of God's greatest gifts.

I understand that you're hurting, and that you'd like it to all go away, but life ending won't help.

As for your father . . . I'm really sorry that he's making choices that are so hurtful.

As you and I both know, he's putting himself ahead of others right now, and that kind of selfishness can inflict a lot of pain.

I understand the desire to be cold to his new wife and her children . . . but I don't think that's fair, and I don't think It will make things any better.

It’s never good to carry animosity in our hearts.

The dislike you have for the kids is mostly wrapped up in your own jealousy; they may not be cool people, but you haven't really given them a chance; for all you and I know this whole thing may be a nightmare for them, too.

Heck, It's not their fault your dad left your mom.

I'm not saying you have to adopt them as siblings, but taking the high road and being kind to them will go a long way towards healing your own pain, and it may help them, too.

It will be difficult, but I think you need to take all the blame you're putting on the new wife and siblings off of them . . . and onto your dad.

He's the one you're angry with, he's the one that let you down, and he's the one that you'll need to fix things with.

And that, little sister, may take quite a bit of time.

He "doesn't want to hear it because he knows the Church Is true, he knows he's made (and is making) some mistakes, and he's just not man enough right now to face or admit those things, let alone do anything about them.

Trust me, for all of his talk and bravado, he's hurting, too, and that's why he's trying to shift blame, trying to deny what he knows is true.

The truth Is, there's nothing you or I can say or do about it.

Oh, you can tell him how you feel and what you want . . . and when the time has come that you feel you can do that calmly and rationally I think you owe it to yourself and to him to do so . . . but change will have to come from within him.

As much as you and I think he should get it together, he's going to have to choose that on his own.

And someday he probably will.

For now, you have every right to tell him how you feel.

Tell him that he's disappointing you, that you miss going to Church with him, that you miss him in your life and that you feel cast aside In favor of his "new family".

Be calm, try to avoid using the word "you" (I.e.: Instead of "when you do this you really hurt me", you say "I hurt when this is done" - It’s more mature and will keep him from getting defensive), and keep your voice even - that will help him to take you seriously.

But also realize that he's not likely to change anything anytime soon.

To paraphrase a favorite coach:  life isn’t about getting knocked down, it’s about choosing to get back up.

Don't let the actions of your father keep you from having the blessings of the Gospel In your life.

And hang in there.

It will get better.

It may not get "perfect" (whatever that means), but it will get better.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Pre-Mission Breakup

Dear Bro Jo,

I stumbled upon your blog today and am so glad I did!

I am preparing to leave on my mission in just three weeks. I am absolutely thrilled!

I am one of those nineteen year old girls whose life was changed at General Conference.

I have always wanted and planned on going on a mission so the age change just brought the possibility of serving a mission much soon than I had planned.

Anyway, I have been reading the different "Waiting for a Missionary" posts and comments and I must say, some of the defensive comments made by missionary girlfriends made me laugh. :)

I have been dating a boy for a year... well, I was dating him but he left on his mission in January so we broke up.

But, while I was dating him I was so defensive when people would make comments that it is not okay to date boys seriously before their missions.

I felt that each situation was unique and that is wasn't anyone's place to tell me whether it was okay for us to be dating or not.

Well, fast forward a few months to him serving in the mission field and me being at home struggling so much because I wanted to be able to give Heavenly Father my heart and give 100% to preparing and serving a mission of my own but I couldn't because I missed the boy sooo much.

I feel that I did learn so much from dating him but it would have been better all-around to not have been so serious before the mission.

I'll be honest, it has taken me a while to admit that to myself but it is true.

Preparing for a mission of my own, I can definitely see why it is so distracting.

I finally was able to come to this realization and he and I both decided to let go of any type of relationship except for being friends for now but it would have alleviated a bunch of heartache for both of us if we had chosen differently sooner.

I understand why some of the girls are feeling the way they do, but, having been in a similar position myself, I know that it is better to not seriously date before the mission.

Even if I do end up marrying this boy, I would never want there to be regrets if he or I weren't able to give our missions 100%.

Even if I wasn't leaving on a mission, I still feel like if you love him then realize his mission only comes once and let him go.

It will be easier for him to focus on his mission and he will be able to develop a greater relationship with Heavenly Father and grow and change in ways that are incredible. Not only are those two years incredibly important for the boy, they are also important for the girl.

Date!

Make friends!

Improve, grow, become all you can be in that time.

Then, if you do choose to marry him when he returns, you won't have to wonder if you just chose him because you never tried dating anyone else.

That's my thoughts!

I just wanted to thank you for your words.

Just a few months ago I would have been tempted at some points to disagree only because I didn't want to admit that I was wrong, but I've learned a powerful lesson since then. :)

Thanks!

- Lesson Learned




Dear LL,

Thank you for your email and perspective.  Not because you agree with me (which, sure, is nice) but because you've add a personal touch to the issue and expressed some important points much better than I think I have.

A mission, like a marriage, gives you back what you put into it.

Work hard.

Love the people.

And serve with all of your heart, might, mind and strength.

I'm sure you'll be a great missionary!

I've been very impressed with the new Sister Missionaries I've met.

Godspeed,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Should He Wait for Her?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for all your work with this blog and the other help you offer.

This is a really long and complicated story so I'll try to keep it as condensed as possible.

I got back from my mission about 5 months ago and I hit the ground running with dating and looking seriously for a wife.

I'm ready to be married and I'm willing to make it my biggest priority.

Anyway, I met a girl (I'll call her Jane in this email) after a few weeks of being back and I like hanging out with her but I wasn't interested in more because I judged women by a checklist of qualities I was looking for and she wasn't ideally compatible.

Also, complication number 1 is that she had a mission call.

I could tell she was really interested though, so I got nervous and accidentally friend zoned her kind of inconsiderately with a DTR.

Anyway, a few weeks later (about 2 months ago) I realized that I liked spending so much time with her that I thought we should just have a relationship because she was leaving anyway and she was really growing on me cause of how loyal and supportive she was to me.

So I took her out and sealed the deal.

I didn't write you until now because I knew you'd say some things I don't agree with (like that this was a mistake) and I didn't want to hear it.

Anyway, we grew closer and more in love and I stopped caring about many of the reservations I'd had about her from my checklist.

I at first was planning to have her in mind but date a lot while she was gone, but it got to the point that I asked her if she would cancel her mission if I asked and she had a hard time saying anything.

You see, she's terrified of losing me and thinks that I'm the best person in the world for her, and she plans on me moving on if she goes.

So to sum up the rest, the day before she was to be set apart I basically asked her if she was going on her mission no matter what.

She had always told me that she wouldn't ask me to wait, but it was really hard for her not to.

At this point, even my biggest reservation--that I found some other girls more physically attractive than her and I wasn't as turned on by her as I thought a husband should be--didn't seem like an issue to me anymore.

(Just to clarify, we kept the physical stuff temple worthy this whole time.)

She knew how bad I wanted to get married now though, and she was deep down concerned that I'd immediately be interested in other girls when she left.

So she told me how much she loved me and that she still will in 18 months and asked if I would agree that I'd be the same way if I really meant it.

I couldn't say anything to this for about 10 minutes cause I just don't see it that way exactly and I couldn't make her any promises.

She made it easier by saying that she doesn't think less of me for not being at that point yet, but she had to make sure that if we get married I really love her enough to be there in 18 months.

This was colossally emotional for me because I really do love her and it's a fair enough expectation, but I didn't think I'd honestly make it 18 months and I was super attached to her.

We agreed that we'd just be friends while she was gone.

A week ago she dropped me off at the bus right before she went to get set apart and we were both in tears and shocked by what was about to happen.

Then she went and became a missionary and I bawled for the next 3 days.

(I've never cried until I met her.)

The interesting thing is that the feelings I had right at that moment when we said goodbye will not allow me to have any desire to date other girls in the near future as I had planned.

At first I was just sad but then I started getting so, so confused and uncertain about everything; if I really would be there in 18 months, if she was really right for me, why I didn't miss her very much at some times of day, and it went on and on.

The uncertainty mixed with pure grief put me in massive emotional pain because of all the questions in my mind as I was seeing the next 18 months irrationally though a lens of my feelings at the time.

I've since pulled myself together and refused to let this drag my life down at all.

I've started gradually settling on waiting for her, which is my plan at the moment.

The thing is, I know that if I wanted to date around then I'd get a girlfriend before long and if I did that then she'd be a potential wife and I'd be married before long and I'd feel like my relationship with Jane really was lost and not just a temporary separation and the sadness of her leaving was felt in vain ESPECIALLY because I know how hard it would be for her if I were to move on, and I want to be her for her in 18 months so she'll be happy.

Anyway, I guess my questions at this point are:

How can I take advantage of being single and make the most of these 18 months in ways that I wouldn't have been able to if she had stayed?

What are the blessings and advantages that you perceive to this situation?

(I'm just trying to be positive and continue to progress in life.)

How can I get passionate about something other than finding a wife so that I can focus on and care about something productive in the meantime?

For now I'm going to basic training for 5 1/2 months with the army and then continuing school and officer training so that'll help, but I have really nothing else that brings me much satisfaction like looking for a wife and dating Jane did.

It was like a fire of desire in my chest that just made me want a wife so bad that I just had to stay moving always and make it happen.

I'm going to make the absolute best of this time and support her as much as I can.

Thank you so much,

- A Solitary Soldier




Dear Solitary,

I typically don't advise waiting for someone while they're serving.  But even if you test the waters by dating while she's gone . . . that doesn't mean that you'll find another "love of your life", get engaged and get married in the next year and a half . . . especially if you've got training during that time.

1. Focusing on your education, testimony, service, and your career; work and study impossibly long hours; that's what you wouldn't be able to do if she was still around.

2. The blessing is that, if you work hard enough, you'll be an even better man when she comes back than you were when she left.

3. See #1 & #2.

If it's meant to be, it will happen.

One thing to consider:  if you're as in-love with her as you think you are, you wouldn't be so convinced that you'll so easily replace her the moment she's gone.

On some level it does sound more like you're afraid of losing her than that she's the woman you're in love with.  Almost like you've talked yourself into it . . . which is too bad, because despite your initial indecision and superficiality, she really does sound like she's a Great Girl . . .

But let's see how you feel in three months.

One thing that may reassure you:  if you're not available, I'm sure a Great Girl like this one will have no trouble finding someone else when she comes home . . .

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 7, 2014

When Parents Don't Approve of the Engagement

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you get a ton of emails, and I think it's awesome that you take time to reply to them.

I asked for some advice from you a few years ago, and I know you probably rolled your eyes when you read about my stupid little drama problems, but you still gave me advice. I thank you for that.

Anyways, I'm in another dilemma right now.

I'm almost 20, and I recently got engaged to the best guy ever who is also my best-est friend in the entire world.

I couldn't have asked for a better person to spend eternity with.

My dad loves the guy to bits, especially since my fiancé and I have been best friends since we were kids.

The problem: my mom likes my fiancé, but doesn't believe that we're engaged.

She thinks I’m "too young to fall in love."

She got engaged when she was 18 and my older sister got engaged when she was barely 19, and she didn't have a problem with my sister getting married, so I don't know what my mom's problem is.

Every time I try to talk to her about how much I love him she tells me that I don't really love him. ''

I've asked my dad what my mom's deal is, and he says that she's not ready to let her youngest kid grow up yet. I can see that, but how do I convince my mom to at least ACT like she's happy for me?

Some help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

- Premarital woes




Dear Woes,

Are you trying to convince your mom ... or convince yourself?

Because a grown woman who's old enough and mature enough to get married doesn't need to convince anyone else that she's making a good choice.

Unless she's not really sure herself.

It would be great if you had her blessing ... but you don't. 

You won't be able to argue her into conversion.

So let it go.

Your certainly "old enough" to fall in-love, let alone get married.

Give her time to come to the truth on her own.

Your best shot at convincing her that this is a good thing is to focus on your upcoming sealing and the joy involved with that.

Make no mistake: marriage is a lot of work.

But, as Sister Jo keeps reminding me, it's worth it!

Focus on your happiness and the happiness of your husband.

Your mother is not the first parent who's objected to a wedding. There is, of course, a chance she knows something that you don't, or is a little more in-tune with the realities of your situation and feels the need to warn you of things that "love" has blinded you to, but you need to know for yourself.  If you've had that confirming witness, I say move forward.

Give your mom time and space and she'll come around.

It may take a while ... or a grandchild or two (for all of the YSA's that think we pressure you to get married, just wait until you are married and the Have Children pressure comes!) ... or enough time to pass that she sees that this man will take good care of you ... but it will happen.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pre-Marriage Kissing (and Is Touching Okay with Clothes in between?)

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for you great blog that helps a lot of people, including myself.

I am writing you this email because I am somewhat concerned about something.

I am engaged to a wonderful LDS girl.

My worry is about kissing.

I often hear it is bad to participate in passionate kissing.

It is something really hard to follow.

I often feel guilty after we kiss because I feel we were a little bit too passionate.

I talked about it with my fiance but she doesn't feel we do something bad knowing that we are engaged.

There is never inappropriate touching but we sometimes kiss lying on the top of each other.

I decided I would stop doing this and asked my fiance to help me with this.

Even though she doesn't feel we do anything bad, she accepted.

Now, here is my biggest concern: yesterday while we were passionately kissing, I ejaculated.

It made me feel really guilty.

I don't know how it happened.

It wasn't intentional but I must admit my feelings were more those of lust than simple love.

I feel bad about it.

Is it something I should confess to my bishop?

If it is, I will do it immediately but I am just not sure.

Thank you for your help bro Jo!

- Worried




Dear Worried,

You should go see your Bishop whenever you've done something, or think you may have done something, that would put your Temple Worthiness in jeopardy.

Ejaculating while making out with your fiance (I'm assuming your pants were still on) is not one of those things, IMHO.  But if you feel the need, by all means have the talk with your Bishop.

You said that you "don't know how it happened" . . . and I could explain the physiology of "how it happened", but I don't think that's . your concern.  (If it is, let me know and I'll give you the straight-talk physiology.)

I think your issue is that it happened because your body and mind were ready for sex, and you "don't know how" because you were so caught up in the moment that instinct took over.

I think you two need to cool your jets.

Both of you.

Not because you're evil people.  Not because having these feelings of attraction to your fiance are bad.  But because, it seems to me, that you're putting yourselves in situations where the temptation to not be Temple Worthy is very strong.

If the wedding date is a long ways away, give serious thought to moving it up.

To, like, next month.

Or this one.

And if you two can't control yourselves, then you need to stop spending that type and quantity of alone time together.

Satan will work very hard to keep the two of you out of the Sealing Room, so until you're there the temptation is just going to keep getting stronger.

(By the way, and just so we're clear, "on top of each other" is "inappropriate touching" until you're married; "touching" doesn't just mean your hands, and it doesn't mean that clothing between you makes it all okay.)

Don't ever feel bad because you've chosen to be more careful.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Do Some Girls Seem Eager to Be Kissed?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a Returned Missionary and I took your advice from a couple months ago about getting back into the dating scene again.

Guess what!

It worked! 

I have been on quite a few dates since I've been back and I have found one that I really like.

Before I start telling my story, I just want you to know that I have a rule of thumb that I won't kiss a girl unless it is till the third date.

This saves me the pain of sending the wrong message and that I'd rather get to know people.

Now I found the girl that I really like and yes I have kissed her (after a couple of dates).

Before her though I would ask girls on a date and we would do activities that would make us socialize.

By the end of our first date however, they are sending me signals that they want to be kissed and I try to get out of the situation. (This doesn't happen with every girl, just a few).


Fast forward to New Year's Eve and I'm at a dance with some friends.

We are having a great time dancing as a group and midnight comes.

Shortly after the countdown a random girl comes up and kisses me and then runs away.

What is going through these girls heads?

I don't want to be kissing left and right.

Sincerely,

- Puzzled RM




Dear Puzzled,

I don't pretend to know what women think.

Not often, anyway.

But Sister Jo knows!

So I ask her opinion all the time.

Here's what I've learned:

1. Girls like kissing as much as we do. Most of the time. Though not always for the same reasons. However, just like us, girls see kissing as an affirmation of attractiveness.

2. More than we guys do, girls see a kiss as an indication of commitment. Well, most girls, anyway.

We do live in a time where the importance and special-ness of kissing (outside LDS - and other "wait-til-marriage" promoting cultures - people often think of sexual intercourse the same way) as something more than just the physical act seems to be dwindling, but Sister Jo assures me that when a guy kisses a girl she's more often than not going to take it as some kind of sign that he Wants, Hopes, and Expects the Relationship to be more than Casual because, well, that's what she intends when she kisses him.

That, so I'm told, is why girls want to be kissed.

And why, bro, you're right in your thinking to save it for a third date.

(BTW, I learned that waiting to kiss a girl makes her much more likely to want to be kissed, and that IS a big difference. As the movie says, too many guys rush in and take the kiss - not the best choice. Now, that said, I must confess that even after having proven success with the "wait-til-the-third-date" philosophy, I did kiss the future Sister Jo on the First Date. Well . . . she considers it the first . . . I count it as the second or third.)

However, I also believe that Latter-day Saints are a little too uptight about kissing.

[Readers,  

Did you read the post last month about the two guys arguing; one saying that ALL kisses should be saved for marriage?]

- Bro Jo


PS:  For more of Bro Jo's thoughts on this topic, check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing" which can be found in Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating and on the Facebook page.