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, September 29, 2014

When You Believe Someone is Unworthy to Serve a Mission, What Should you Do? - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I may have given you the wrong impression on a few points. I actually know the girl really well.

I don't want to get too specific, but there's a familial tie, but she's also a friend. It's the boyfriend I don't really know.

She actually came to me in tears asking for a blessing just before she talked to Katy, but wouldn't really say what she needed a blessing for.

I did the best I could, but it was sort of a weird experience. I've watched her personal life really plummet.

As for the information being 2nd hand, it isn't anymore, based on our conversation.

I agree with you that I should have done this face to face, which was my original intent when I emailed her saying I'd like to talk, but she has been distancing herself from me (she knows that I think the boyfriend is emotionally abusive to her) and wouldn't until I said more. Then when she pressed me more what about,

I cracked.

By the end of the conversation, she had admitted that they had been immoral as recently as 3 months ago (in a way that requires someone to wait a year or more to go on a mission), but then she also claimed that she had told her Bishop as much as he "needed" to know.

So, just based on math, I'm certain about the non-full disclosure thing.

Anyway, none of those facts would appear to change your advice, which I thank you for.

I wish I knew her Bishop, but she's doing the whole mission process through a student ward and I don't know how to find him other than asking her.

That wouldn't be too obvious, now would it?

I care about her a great deal, and like you said, it is really hard having to sit back and watch her standing on the road pretending that the bus isn't headed straight for her.

I feel at peace somewhat about trying, but now I'm staying out of it.

My main question was spurred on by D&C 42 when it talks about 2 witnesses condemning someone guilty of adultery, but it says nothing about 1 witness, or when it deals with fornication and not adultery.

I wondered if I had some sort of obligation to be a witness, now that my information is pretty first hand.

Thanks again for the advice.

If anything, I've finally realized why Lucifer's plan was so appealing that we could take away the ability of people we love doing things that hurt themselves.

I'm not saying I agree with it, or don't understand the implications of removing agency, but I never quite understood why a full 1/3 would actually fall for it...until now.

Thanks,

- Trying




Dear Trying,

You have no obligation or authority to be that kind of witness.

Pray for her.

Pray with her.

And be a positive influence in her life, especially as you testify of the love of the Savior and the power He has to return joy to her life.

Don't run to her Bishop.

Be a support.

And, as I said, be positive.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bro Jo's How to Better Communicate as a Couple

Dear Bro Jo,

I am recently engaged to a wonderful man that stole my heart.

He is an upstanding member and avid temple goer as well.

He is also a returned veteran serving our country and was injured doing so.

Well recently I have been getting upset with him because he says one thing when he meant it as something completely different.

I of course get upset and at one point started crying.

He then gets upset at me because he thinks I am over-reacting and I need better control of my emotions.

What can we do to understand each other?

To me it feels like I am talking to a cave man and to him it is like talking to Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter.

How can I communicate with my guy without him shutting down?

I would love your advice!

- Soon to Be Married




Dear Soon,

As your relationship continues there will be plenty of opportunities for you each to get upset with one another. Sure, some people claim to have those marriages where they never fight . . . it might be true, but I never believe them!

Of course, as two outspoken opinionated people, it might not surprise you that Sister Jo and I have had some pretty big blow outs . . . not that I recommend that.

What I do recommend is six things:


BRO JO'S LIST of HOW TO BETTER COMMUNICATE as a COUPLE

1. Learn how to communicate. That means you do a lot more listening than talking. Most relationship arguments escalate because we think the other person isn't hearing what we need to express.
Communication is also about timing.
I teach parents not to bother their child's coach about not enough playing time right after a game (especially if it's a loss), but that waiting a day or two to let that coach deal with what just happened is a better course of action.
The same thing is true in couples.

2. Discover how your partner likes to handle disagreements.  Are they a "hash it out until it's over" kind of person? 
Or do they need their space to recover and think things over?
Whichever it is, do your best to accommodate them. (BTW - the best way to discover which they are is to talk to them; see #1 above.)

3. Be respectful in your speech to each other. That means be prepared to give a lot more "sorry"s and "thank you"s than you may want to.
When you're expressing your feelings, don't put the other person on the defensive.
Try to never use the word "you" as in "you bother me when you do this"; that backs them into a corner, and you don't want them to cower OR come out fighting. Instead say "I feel this way when this thing happens". See the difference?

4. Be a little less sensitive about your own feelings. Not everything said or done is about us; often even when it seems it is, it's not. (Ironically the same advice your fiancé is giving to you he too could use.)

5. Keep your expectations realistic. Sister Jo is often quoting “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” (Albert Einstein)
I've known many people that ended up divorced because their spouse didn't live up to their expectations, even though that spouse was the same person that they'd originally fallen in love with and agreed to marry (and perhaps covenanted to be with for Time and All Eternity).
He didn't ever become wildly wealthy at his workman's wage job; she didn't stay the same shape she was at 19; he never learned to like her favorite types of movies and activities; she never embraced hunting and camping . . .
We won't be disappointed in people, what they become or fail to become, if we keep ourselves from having unrealistic expectations about who they are, what they will do, and how they might change.
(Expectation, by the way, is one of the many reasons why pornography is so dangerous; it gives us unrealistic expectations of sex and human behavior. Real people don't act like porn stars. Heck, porn stars wouldn't act that way either if they weren't drunk, stoned, coked out, threatened, abused . . . or all of the above.)
A favorite quote of mine is “Women marry Men hoping to change them; Men marry Women hoping they won’t change. Both are phenomenally wrong”.
Keep that in mind.

6. Always find opportunities to appreciate each other and pray together. As we grow closer to God, we grow closer to each other.
As we honor our companions, showing them through word and deed that we're grateful they're in our lives, miracles can happen. 


If you're a reader, I highly recommend "How to Win Friends and Influence People" as an excellent primer in how to better communicate with others.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

She Thinks Her Cousin Might be a Lesbian

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Brother Jo,

 I'm a Mormon and I think my cousin which is a girl might be gay.

I thought a long time ago that she might be but as she has gotten older I feel like she really is.

I don't want to come out and ask her if she is but she has worked with gay people after she got out of High School.

She has been with a girl lots and I have met the girl she seems nice but that's when I realized that my cousin was possibly gay.

She now lives with this girl in my grandparents’ former home and just a steps away is where my Aunt and Uncle live.

I don't want to treat my cousin any different than I did but I don't know how to.

I need advice.

- Cousin




Dear Cousin,

Maybe she is, and maybe she isn't.

While you and I (and God) don't agree with that lifestyle choice, it's hers to make.

She hasn't asked us for help or our opinion, so we shouldn't give it.

The only time we need to step in and "be our brother's keeper" is when someone is in danger or in danger of hurting someone else.

This choice - to have sex with someone of the same gender (make no mistake, that's what homosexuality is) - if she has actually made it does have consequences, but not the kind where we need intervene.

Truth is, if you did say or do something without invitation that's more likely to drive a wedge between you two than it is going to encourage her to choose differently.

Lastly, understand that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ still love her and won't treat her any differently; being Christian means we should do the same.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 22, 2014

When You Believe Someone is Unworthy to Serve a Mission, What Should you Do? - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo, 

I'm a guy who is 19 waiting to go on a mission because of some medical issues. Hopefully, I'll be cleared in about 6 months, if all goes well. This means a lot of my friends are gone or are going in short order.

I'm in a bit of a predicament.

Several months ago a female friend, I'll call her Katy for clarity, came to me and told me that another mutual female friend, let's call her Heather, came to Katy and confessed a bunch of sins that she and her boyfriend had been involved in.

I only kind of know Heather's boyfriend.

This all happened just after it was rumored that he had to postpone his mission for 6 months. Well, now I know why.

The problem is that I actually know the list of things that make you wait 6 months and which things you need to wait a year or more for. Heather confessed that she had been feeling guilty, so she and her boyfriend plotted to confess to a "lesser" sin to the bishop, and so he had to wait only six months. 

What she confessed to Katy was a whole lot more.

Unfortunately they've been involved in just about everything except intercourse...plenty of things on the "wait a year" list.

What's worse is that the behavior didn't stop after their confession to the Bishop.

Then, they made a pact to clean things up, so that he can go on his mission.

At the time of her conversation with Heather they had made the pact to stay clean for 3 months so that he could go.

Katy was so shocked that she didn't really offer any advice, she just listened.

Then she came to me and asked me what she should do.

My first instinct was to talk to Heather about it and council her to repent, but Katy wouldn't hear of it.
She basically swore me to secrecy, because she didn't want Heather to know she didn't keep her confidence.

So, I've tried to be really nice to Heather and whenever we're together I've tried to steer the conversation towards missions and even repentance and how neat it is to be a worthy representative of God.

I've always tried to emphasize how wonderful repentance is.

But, to keep Katy's confidence, I've never said anything direct. I've just hoped that she and her boyfriend would find their way to repentance on their own.

Katy has passed on advice in subsequent conversations with Heather, but Heather has been pretty tight lipped and almost acts as if it never happened.

My older brother and best friend was sent home from the MTC because he kept something hidden.

It was really really hard for him to face the shame, but he did.

He worked really hard for a year and is now a year into his mission in (Location Withheld).

He and I had long conversations about how putting off repentance only increases the suffering that must come before the great joy of forgiveness.

So, obviously, I have strong feelings about living without unnecessary pain.

Jumping forward, the new age qualifications were announced just as the boyfriend's papers were going back in. Now Heather is excitedly and very publicly announcing her intentions to go.

She's met with the Bishop and Stake President, done medical and dental checkups and is preparing her papers.

Obviously, since she met with the Bishop and Stake President, and her intentions became no less public, she obviously didn't say anything to them.

The boyfriend has announced that he got his call and leaves in 3 weeks to the MTC.

So, I caved.

I got permission from Katy to write to Heather.

Katy actually had second thoughts and texted me not to, but I had already put the letter in the mailbox.

I tried to be as loving as possible.

I didn't threaten to expose them,

I just wrote that Katy had mentioned to me some things about their conversation and I knew that they weren't going on missions the right way.

I wrote my testimony that I knew that repentance often involves pain and shame, but that the reward is worth it.

I also wrote that the shame will only increase as time passes and that it will eat away at them like a cancer.

Well, I don't know if I should have done that or not.

Heather got pretty mad at Katy, but to her credit, Katy was clear that she didn't write the letter and tried to rescind permission, but that she agreed with it.

Then she texted me and basically told me that her repentance was between she and the Lord and that she was worthy and ready.

She didn't say anything to deny the sin, however.

I did tell her that repentance was between she and the Lord, but it had to be according to His rules and not hers.

But, then I said, I was just hoping to help, that I loved her no matter what, and that I wouldn't talk to her about it anymore.

Obviously, it still eats away at me that they'll both be representing the Church. But I also believe in agency.

I had hopes that he would cave under the pressure of the MTC, like my brother, but the more I've learned about him, he's pretty manipulative and guilt free, so he might make it through.

She's so afraid of him that she won't say anything either.

So, my question is this: Do I have an obligation to do more?

If it weren't that they were going on missions, I would know that the answer is "no".

But if they are going to be representatives of the Church, do I have more of an obligation to let anyone know that they aren't worthy?

If so, who?

-Trying to do what's right

P.S. To be clear, I don't have romantic inclinations to Katy or Heather. I've got someone else already who isn't going to "wait", but I'd like to see where things go after the mission. She's also been aware of the whole situation.




Dear Trying,

No, I don't think you have an obligation to do more.

And, frankly, I think you may have gone about this the wrong way.

All of the information you have is second hand, and you don't even really know these people.

Your first move was correct: try to convince Katy to convince her friend to repent fully before being dishonest with her Bishop about her worthiness.

One should not go "running to the Bishop" about information they have regarding another's worthiness.

Even if the information we have is directly from the sinner, it's not our job to do their confessing for them. 

There is a line, of course, between minding our own business and being our "brother's keeper".

(By the way, I think we misuse that phrase . . . A LOT. We seem to forget the context in which it's introduced in Scripture.)

But this girl, and her boyfriend, aren't your brothers, they're more like a friend of a friend of a friend. 

Remember, this missionary (and soon his ex-girlfriend) had to lie to his Bishop, multiple times, and then his Stake President multiple times, and soon the MTC Presidency, and then his Mission President . . . I mean we're talking about Priesthood interviews . . . Missionary Application Interviews . . . Temple Recommend interviews . . .

That's why he'll feel the "pressure", and as you know, she'll feel it, too.

And consider this: what if they didn't lie to priesthood authority?

What if your friend's friend was bragging? 

Or trying to seem like she was more worldly than she is?

(My gosh, that happens So Many Times in the Church! Drives Sister Jo and I crazy when Latter-day Saints think they're cool by bragging about how "bad" they used to be . . . topic for another day.)

The thing is, because the information is so far removed from you, it's really tough to tell.

What if they did fully confess?

There's no way that either you or Katy would necessarily be privy to that information.

In fact, it would be a concern of a different type if you were.

Rather than a note, it would have been far better to talk to her in person.

That's a tough thing to do, so one option would be to pose it to her (and him, separately) as a question.

"Hi, can I ask your advice? I heard third hand about a couple that committed some sins that could call their worthiness in question; I don't know either of them very well, but I know they're about to go into some interviews where, if this is all true, they're either going to have to confess or lie", and then ask them "what would you do if you were me?"

See the difference?

Rather than being straight out accusatory, rather than putting someone on the defensive, you're asking for help for yourself.

You could take the same tactic with their Bishop.

"Hey, I need some advice: if I knew, possibly, about this stuff about someone, what do you think I should do in this situation?"

That conversation is not too late to happen, by the way.

Just be careful.

You're treading on some very shaky ground here because the information isn't stuff you're supposed to know in the first place, and your sources aren't direct.

Sometimes it's better to just let the process work.

Trust in the Spirit.

Trust in the Lord.

It's typically better if people come to the realization that they need to repent on their own, rather than have someone, especially someone that they don't really know, rat them out.

Look at the positive things that happened for your own brother when he had the opportunity to repent.

He came to that moment on his own.

With the influence of the Spirit, of course, but do you see what I'm saying?

Remember, the first step in True Repentance is to recognize what we've done wrong.

It doesn't always count if someone else does the recognizing for us. And trust me, I know it can be difficult.

You feel like you're sitting back, watching someone set themselves up for pain, and you think that if only you stepped in you could save them that pain, and maybe even help a Bishop or the Church in the process . . . But that's not Heavenly Father's plan, is it?

He allows us to figure it out for ourselves, painful as it may be for Him . . . and for us.

The biggest thing He does is speak to us directly, through the Spirit mostly.

If you do end up talking to her, him, or their respective Bishops (or Stake Presidents), will you let me know what's said and how it goes?

I appreciate your concerns, and your earnestness in doing the right thing.

Good luck and God bless,

- Bro Jo


Dear Trying,

One thing that I'm not certain I said or said clearly : Whether or not another person has confessed or repented is not our business, regardless of what we know or think we know.

That's between them, priesthood authority (if applicable), and the Lord.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is It a Date?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 14 year old girl this is my first year in high school and this boy I've known since elementary school has started to ask me out on single dates and of course I said no.

He has asked me about 4 times now.

Every time I have said no but he this time he has invited his friend (another boy I have known since elementary) and he told me to bring one of my friends.

At first I said no and then I thought about it more.

The date would be at the mall so its nothing romantic or anything.

Plus I have been at the mall with 2 guys and 2 girls before as friends and it was never a problem.

I talked to my mom about it and she said it would be fine as long as we just went as friends.

My mom has known this boy as long as I have and trusts him, as do I.

I am just scared because I don't want to do anything that was wrong so I decided to ask you for a second opinion on what I should tell him.

I care about this boy a lot and I don't want to hurt his feelings but I also don't want to compromise my values in the least.

I would never date before I was sixteen but if I don't look at this like a date would it still be wrong?

Sincerely,

- Confused and Frustrated




Dear Confused,

Right or wrong, at any age, two boys and two girls going to do something is a date.

Sure, a Good Date means "Plan, Pick up and Pay ", but even if those things are missing simply the act of being paired off can make it a date.

And even at only 14, there's no such thing as "just friends" where this boy (or any boy, really) is concerned.

(And, believe me, this boy absolutely is thinking of this as a date, good guy or not.  And yes, even the Mall can be "romantic".)

I invite you to share with your mother that this boy has repeatedly asked you on dates, a fact I'll bet you left out when you asked her if you could go.

Then I think the two of you (you and your mother) should re-read For the Strength of Youth and other guidelines that prophets have given about dating.

Talk about why you think such guidelines have been set, and talk about the blessings we're promised when we follow the counsel of the Prophet.

Sixteen is just around the corner, little sister, and so is Casual Group Dating.

Good Things come to those who wait.

If it helps, I'm happy to explain to your mother, or any parent, why what makes something a date, and why it’s dangerous and not "cute" for children to go on dates and have boyfriends and girlfriends before the time is right.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 15, 2014

What to Do When He's Too Old for You?

Hi Bro Jo,

So I'm 18 years old and I started going to my local YSA ward about two months ago now.

I'm loving it!

I've made some wonderful friends and have been able to serve both as one of the ward organists and on the Family Home Evening committee.

It's so fun to be involved and socialize with people my own age.

Having lessons geared more toward my age group is wonderful for my spirituality, too

(In my family ward, Relief Society lessons always ended up talking about people's grandkids...a little hard to relate to for me).

All in all, it's been a wonderful experience so far.

I've gotten to know some great guys, too.

There's this one in particular that seems pretty interested in me.

In our very first conversation, we were making small talk and I asked him what he's doing in life.

He talked about his job, his research for his master's degree, "and I'm just looking for a wife, someone to make an eternal family with, you know?"

We've talked before/after meetings since then, and he's invited me to an party one of his friends was having, which I had to turn down since I was working that night.

He seems to be a perfectly nice guy,

I'm just not attracted to him.

He's 28 and about to graduate from grad school.

I'm 18 and finishing up my freshman year of college.

We have completely different interests, not much in common at all.

And honestly, the mention of marriage so early kinda creeped me out.

Also, he is known in the ward as the guy that hits on all the new girls.

So what I want to know is if I have an obligation to give this guy a chance?

If he's a notorious flirt, how should I interpret his attentions?

And how can I (preferably nicely) get him to stop flirting with me?

Thanks,

- Young Single Lady




Dear Young,

No, you're not obligated to give this guy a chance.

If he were six years younger I might have a different answer, but at only 18 you're too young for him at 28.

Is it possible he's just being nice?  Is it fair to assume the reputation is true?

Yes.  And yes . . . and no.

In the Church we spread too many rumors and make too many assumptions.  I don't think those are things the Disciples of Christ should be doing.

Rather than stress out about this, I think you should "act as if".  Yes, I agree that he's probably hitting on you, but if you "act as if" that would be ridiculous because of the age gap - not being mean, of course - and simply treat him decently, you'll have nothing to fear.

As for any guilt you should feel regarding not being attracted to him, consider this: there are millions of great single guys in the Church there's no way you should be attracted to all of them.

I might not be the right person to ask about "nice". I think if he asks you out you should tell him that you're flattered but he's just way too old for you.  Sometimes "sugar coating" is a nice way to say "lie"; but to be honest and direct (if you can do it without being malicious or intentionally being mean) than to hide and dance; that's how wrong impressions are received.

If you want to be nice, suggest a few of the a few sisters much closer to his age (there are tons of them) that he can ask out.

I bet they'd be willing to go, too.

And that may be just what this guy needs.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dealing with Stress

Dear Bro Jo,

Just a simple, random question today.

What are your tips for dealing with everyday stress?

Maybe I just stress way too much . . . but how do you deal with stress?

Thanks!

-Stressed!




Dear Stressed,

Sister Jo might tell you that I'm one of the most stressed out people she knows. And, as always, she'd be right.

The four things that work best for me are:

1.  Going on dates with Sister Jo (actually, just talking to her helps a ton, too)

2.  Hanging out with my kids (nothing like a hug from a 5-year old to melt away the tension)

3.  Working out (or even just going for a walk)

4.  Being of service

Not that I'm the best example, but few things in life are worth the stress we put ourselves through over them.

In my profession I'm constantly amused by people who "need it yesterday" and then will delay picking up the order that they had to "have as soon as possible" because, well . . . they're not in the rush they said or think they are.

The Jo Kids can tell you how intensely idleness bothers me.  They say the trick to keep me from overloading them with things to do (mostly chores and projects) is to be sure they look busy.

And they're right.

So I certainly can't advocate sitting around doing nothing.

I'm one of those people who think many of life's problems can be solved by good hard work.

But even I can admit that there's a lot of value in decompressing, relaxing, and having fun once in a while.

That, and you know, having a good sense of the Eternal.

Because, I mean really, how much of what we stress out about day-to-day in this life has any significance in the grand eternal scheme of things?

Not very much it turns out.


Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One Girl's Story - Part 11: The End. And the Beginning

Dear Bro Jo,

We're getting married!

In the (location withheld) Temple.

We're very excited.

He proposed in a beautiful canyon after a morning of rock climbing.

(We both love to climb and it was our first date.)

I just wanted to tell you even though we've never met.

Thanks for all your advice over the ups and downs of dating.

Even though dating was interesting over the years, I'm really grateful for the experience.

I learned a lot about myself, and it was great to meet a variety of people.

Ultimately, it helped me know what I did and didn't want, so I recognized the guy for me when I found him.

I was really attracted to him because of his Christlike attitude. I've heard him complain maybe 3 or 4 times total.

He's always happy and sincerely likes everyone he meets.

He's always doing service for me or anyone around him.

I also love how natural and normal it feels to be with him.

The first time I met him, I thought "why the heck aren't we friends already"?

He fits right into my family, and I fit right into his.

We can go do things, or just hang out and talk and still enjoy being together.

He balances me out and has strengths where I have weaknesses.

I love him so much.

 So that's that. :)

- CG




Dear CG,

What a wonderful story!

Sister Jo and I are happy for you both. Congratulations!

Marriage is one of those things that you have to live to understand.

It's a lot of work, can be a few tears, and worth every effort you give.

Good luck, have fun, pray together oft, and Godspeed.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you! 

We are just loving married life. 

It's been close to two months, and we're still friends. :) 

We serve each other, play together, clean together, cook together, read together, and attend the temple together. I'm so excited to spend eternity with the best man I know. 

I definitely made a good choice. 

Best,

- CG

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Girl's Story: Part 10: Is It Love?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

You're right.

I am totally an over thinker.

But I've pondered for a few days, and I completely agree with you.

He's a strong, righteous man, and I don't need to worry about it at all.

Once I figured that out, it hasn't bothered me a bit.

Okay, but here's another question for you, which you may answer the same way but maybe not:  how do we know when we're in love?

We had a three hour conversation last night and really discussed our relationship and potential in depth.

We came to the conclusion that we are logically a perfect fit and really compatible.

We have similar goals and solid testimonies and we enjoy spending time together.

He would do anything for me.

But neither of us feels head over heels or really twitter-pated.

While we can be really affectionate, there's not really a "spark".

So my guesses are that:

A) it's too soon to say and we need to be patient, or

B) We have a misconceived notion of love and are looking for something illogical, or

C) we're not in love and if we're not feeling a spark now we won't ever.

(Sorry, I'm super analyzing again. We're both pretty left brain people in a lot of ways.)

My best bet is with A.

We've both been praying a lot, not necessarily if we're "The One" because that's silly, but just for guidance and wisdom and a point in the right direction.

And we're getting....nothing.

So maybe that means that we have more studying to do, or maybe God is waiting for us to make a decision.

Or something else.

I don't know. Is the twittery lovey feeling essential or even real?

What is love and how do you know when you have it?

Are we totally jumping the gun and over thinking?

Thanks again for your wisdom,

- CG




Dear CG,

I think A is part of it . . . but Sister Jo and I would say B is perhaps an even bigger part.

I get a lot of emails (from guys and girls) that say something to the effect of "I've met this great person, I love everything about them, and can see myself being with them forever . . . if it wasn't for this One Thing".

And that One Thing has been everything from "no sparks when we kiss" to "they aren't the person I thought I'd marry", from problems in their past to Big Red Flags now.

Big Red Flags scare me.  And I think they should certainly get attention.  And are often very legitimate

But, as Sister Jo says, people (in and out of the Church) struggle with is misconceptions of Love and Marriage and Sex and Attractiveness perpetuated by modern media, and those misconceptions keep them from knowing Real Joy and Eternal Happiness.

Sister Jo is the Most beautiful woman I've ever seen.  Period.  Does that mean that I've never said "hey, that girl over there is pretty"?  No.  (Although I've discovered that now I'm so old I think "Wow!  That girl over there is really pretty, and she seems smart and fun and to have a lot going for her . . . I wonder if she'd date my son?"  HA!)

Does it mean that every moment of ever day Sister Jo has looked like a Super Model or Today's "Hot" Actress?  No.  (But then, to be fair, Super Models and Actresses don't look like what we think they look like, either.  It's amazing to me in this digital age of information how many of us are unaware of that.)

Every time we kiss is it sexy and exciting and romantic?

Uh . . . no.

And, let's not lie:  I'm not exactly the best looking, smartest, easiest to get along with, best kissing person either.  (I know you're not surprised.)

Marriage is about Trust and Sacrifice and Hard Work; it's about Honor and Protection and Partnering Together to Create a Family (as best you can) as God has designed a Family to be.

See, we used to see couples in movies stand up in front of their friends and family and swear to "honor and cherish" each other BEFORE they went off and had sex.

(Even the homosexuals in Hollywood used to at least pretend - if not agree - that's they way things are supposed to be.)

Not any more.

And I submit that lack of understanding is the root of a lot of problems.

But I digress . . .


Be Patient.

But also understand that a Good Relationship can be a Great Eternal Relationship without ever, in this life, being "perfect".

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Girl's Story - Part 9: How Does She Deal with His Past Pornography Problem?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo, Me again.

I'm still dating the man I last emailed you about.

He's wonderful, and we're really really happy together.

He makes me a better person, and I do the same for him.

We complement each other very nicely, and we're definitely falling in love.

We've only been dating for about two months now, but we've discussed marriage.

We both agree that if we keep going the way we're headed, we'll get married.

So with that in mind, our dating has shifted a little from "Could I marry this person?" to "What can I learn about this person before we get married?"

We have very similar goals and opinions and background, so it's easy to discuss life and future life.

However, the other night, I asked him what had been his experience with pornography. He said that he'd had a problem with it before his mission, but he had gone to his bishop and resolved it before his mission and hadn't had a problem since.

He's been back from his mission for about 6-9 months now. He's an active member and is currently serving in the EQ presidency.

He treats me sooo well and he's very close to his mom and sisters.

We also have boundaries for our physical affection, and he's never pushed them.

I'm really not super concerned about it, because he did the right thing and I fully believe in the power of the Atonement and repentance.

But I know very little about pornography and what its long term consequences are. So is this something I should be worried about?

Should I ask more specific questions?

(I don't know what I need to know, and what would just be prying into something irrelevant.)

Can you point me to any conference talks or research about it for information that I should know?

(I'm a student- I research stuff.)

At the moment, I don't feel like it's a deal-breaker, but just knowing that his brain has had an addiction scares me just a little.

Any advice or information you can give me will be appreciated.

 Thank you,

- CG




Dear CG,

In a world where not enough young people think before they leap into a relationship, you're thinking a little too much. Two months ago you weren't certain you should tell this guy that your parents are getting divorced; now he tells you a personal secret and tells you he's repented (and he's got the worthiness to prove it); give the guy a break! 

Past transgressions that have since been properly dealt with are best left in the past.

Let it go.

He's trying to.

The Lord has.

You need to, too.

If he feels the need to share details, he will.

And no, this is not a deal breaker.

If he still had a problem it would be a deal breaker . . . or at the very least a deal postponer.

Addictions stay with us forever, but as more time passes they become easier to conquer, so long of course as one never gives in.

But consider this, CG: it sounds to me like you may have found a man who has a strong testimony of the Savior and the Atonement, and that little sister, is a Very Good Thing.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One Girl's Story - Part 8: The DTR and . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, Bro Jo.

We're definitely on the brink of a relationship, but yeah, just needs a DTR.

We have talked about our families, but I just talk about my siblings and parents individually, or tell funny stories and family traditions etc.

I met his parents because it was his birthday, and they came up (he's also from around here) to take him to dinner and told him he could bring a date.

His two younger sisters came too.

So it wasn't a formal "meet the parents" situation.

Right now, I'm feeling like once we've been in a relationship for a while then I'll invite him to come to Sunday dinner with me and just explain it on the car ride down.

Ugh, I hate talking about it though.

It's so painful.

Oh well.

Any tips on telling something really sad and personal without crying?

I hate crying in front of people. 

I hope he kisses me tonight too.

I'll see what I can do to influence that. ;)

Thanks again,

- CG




Dear Bro Jo,

Update: He kissed me!

He walked me to the door, and we both stalled for a few minutes.

Then he gave me a long hug, and I could tell he wanted to kiss me, but he was hesitant.

So I finally said, "Would you just kiss me already?"

And then he did.

And we DTR'd finally.

So Yay! :)

- CG




Dear CG,

Excellent! Good for you!

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 1, 2014

One Girl's Story - Part 7: A New Guy

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm just finishing up my fifth semester, and last week I went on a date with a guy.

We totally hit it off, and it was so fun.

Since then, we've seen each other almost every day, we went to dinner with his parents last night, and we have another date tonight.

He's held my hand, but we haven't kissed.

I've really been impressed with him. He's very smart and ambitious, funny, and very active in our ward. He's best friends with his sisters, adores his mother, and respects his father. I really like him, and he really likes me, so there's definitely relationship potential.

So here's my question. At the beginning of the semester, about three months ago, I found out that my parents are divorcing. They are currently separated, and have been off and on for about a year. I was devastated, but I didn't let it ruin the rest of my life. I still have excellent grades, a good job, and close friends.

Even though this has been so incredibly difficult for me, I've used this trial to grow closer to my Savior. My testimony has grown so much this semester, and I know everything will be ok, and my life is in the Lord's hands. I'm secure enough with myself and my testimony to not be completely shaken up, but I'm still sad and grieving.

My family lives about 10 miles away from my school, so I'm able to go home fairly often.

So do I tell the guy I'm dating about my family situation?

Do I tell him now?

Do I tell him if we start dating exclusively?

Do I tell him before he meets my family?

I don't want to just spill all my family problems to him when we've only been dating for a little while, but it is a big part of my life right now, so I feel like it would be important for him to know.

It's possible that I won't end up in a relationship with him, but I want a plan just in case.

What are your thoughts?

At what level of a relationship is information like this to be disclosed?

Thanks,

- CG




Dear CG,

I know the culture at your school is weird . . . but it sounds to me like you're In A Relationship already.

He may be a little too slow (or too shy) with the smooching, but Holly Heck, you're together all the time and he had you meet his parents.

Not to rush either of you, and I understand you each feel like you'll need to have the DTR first (btw - looking back, I don't think I EVER had a "Determine the Relationship" talk, even with Sister Jo), but I'd say something is already happening. I hope he's not too dumb to realize it.

Anyway . . . It IS interesting that you've met his parents, and with yours only 10 miles away that he's never asked about yours . . .

Of course, it IS still early in the process . . .

I'd say, in general, that you need to wait a little longer before telling him about your folks.

That's deeply personal information, and unless he asks, it should wait.

If he does ask, something like "what is your family like?", then I think you should use that opportunity to tell him.

If he doesn't ask about your family in the next few dates, that may be a red flag, but I wouldn't worry about it just yet.

One step at a time.

Hopefully tonight he'll try to kiss you. (If it helps, check out "The Six L's of How to Get Kissed"

And thank you for sharing your testimony of the Savior!

- Bro Jo