In the Friend Zone? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Panic

by | inspiration. LDS Living. Love | no comments

Young couple enjoying in night music festival

“I thought it was over,” he exhaled. “I mean, she said that I was her friend…her friend!”

 

It had been a rough road for my buddy, Jack. He had been married for 25 years until a recent divorce. Then he had met a lovely woman online. She was living in a domestic violence shelter at the time; they both had a few kids and a lot of baggage. But in time they connected and started chatting, then texting, then calling. Jack felt things were going well until she dropped a bomb.

 

She called him her “friend.”

 

“How did you deal with getting friend-zoned?” I probed.

 

“Well, I took it hard,” he said. “At first, I cried, then I came to terms with the fact that it was over. That is when I went to see my therapist.”

 

Then, Jack got a serious look on his face and told me what his therapist said—a message of wisdom that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

 

“When I told my therapist, he laughed! I was offended and then a little hurt until he patted my knee and said, ‘You know that, to her, the word ‘friend’ is the highest compliment she can give?’

 

It suddenly dawned on Jack that this woman, who had spent her whole life trying and failing to trust another man, simply wanted—and needed—a friend. And so by saying that he was her friend, it was actually more like saying, “I trust you.”

 

With that vote of confidence, their relationship kept growing and growing.

 

A year later, he married his best friend.

 

I have long believed God gives us friends so that we might choose family, but only once in a lifetime or so, do we get to actually make that best friend family.

 

In life and in love, there are the crushes, the dates, and the games—but in the end, the thing that makes life sweet are the friends we can enjoy it with. When you have a best friend to share the joys and the sorrows of life, then truly, the best place you can ever be is the friend zone.

 

If you are married, keep the love alive by treating your spouse as your best friend. You might be surprised by how much joy it brings.

 

And if you aren’t married, don’t be discouraged if you simply seem to be acquiring a lot of friends. Continue to cultivate those friendships, and one day you might just find one that turns into something eternal.

 

But even if you don’t, remember—the reason we have life and joy at all is because of friends. After all, didn’t Christ lay down His life for friends? (John 15:13)

 

 

This post was originally posted on this link at LDSLiving.com

 

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You’re looking for Happiness in the Wrong Places

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

father and son piggybacking

 

My wife and I recently went to Austin, Texas, to go to a concert with another couple. We got to the venue and saw a line wrapped around the block. After going into an underground lot and practically signing away our first child for permission to park there, we found the venue again and proceeded to walk three blocks to the end of line. After waiting for a while, the women had to use the restroom. Thirty minutes later, they came back with new shoes they had bought (I was confused, but my buddy who has been married a few years longer than me didn’t look surprised at all).

 

After what seemed like hours of waiting, we finally made it up to the front of the line, went through security, and at last reached the ticket counter.

 

The Austin dude (I don’t know how else to describe him) at the counter took one look at our tickets, and said, “Whoa, man. This is the wrong venue.”

 

Turns out, our venue was on the other side of the line. We just assumed that we needed to be in the line we had waited in because that’s where everyone else was. And yeah…our venue had no line.

 

This experience has come to my mind again and again. The thought of waiting in the wrong line just because other people were waiting there brought to my heart the realization of how many other lines I wait in—just because everyone else is.

 

Especially the long line of happiness.

 

 

**** To read the rest of this article and see what the 5 most dangerous words in the world are, go to LDSLiving.com!

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The 3 Simple Words My Grandma Brought Me from the Spirit World

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

Jesus Christ Beyond the grave

 

My grandma was in a coma for nearly 10 days. She had flatlined a few times and doctors said that things were not looking good.

 

It’s interesting how when someone is so close to death, memories of their life begin to flood your mind. I remembered her teaching me to let my little sister win at Go Fish, or her waking up an hour early to grind fresh wheat for her famous homemade pancakes after a cousin sleepover, or her gathering the family and making everyone say something nice about each person on their birthday (during family reunions these “Nice Talk” sessions could last a few hours).

 

But it wasn’t just what she did when everyone was around; it was the countless personal letters of encouragement, or the call right when I needed it, or simply pulling me aside to let me know that she thought I was special.

 

She just had a way of making everyone feel loved and helping us keep perspective. Everything she did was to bless others. Let’s put it this way—if she doesn’t make it into heaven, I’m quitting now because no one will!

 

She was the glue of my family and truly a best friend to me. So upon hearing the news that she wouldn’t live much longer, my heart broke. As I had done the previous 10 days, I made the hour-long drive to the hospital to be there—maybe for her, maybe for my family members, or maybe just for me, I’m not sure. But there I was, in her hospital room when all of a sudden—she woke up!

 

She was weak and her mouth was very dry from the ventilator, but she could whisper just enough to talk; only a few belabored words per breath.

 

She asked me about my wife. At the time, I was single—super single.

 

Upon hearing that I wasn’t married, she informed me that she knew my wife and that the woman I would marry was very beautiful and kind and that I was going to be very lucky. I tried in vain to get a name or address, but now, almost eight years later, I wonder if she knew just how right she would be.

 

After talking about other things for a few minutes, though, I asked her, “Grandma, where have you been these last 10 days?”

 

“Oh,” she responded, “I haven’t been alone.”

 

She proceeded to tell me about the life after death so casually and candidly that I found myself in near shock. She told me about her mother and mother-in-law and how other members of the family were doing who had long since passed. She had everything in her travelogue except pictures. Then came the part that changed my life forever.

 

“Zack, I was sent back with a very important message.”

 

 

To read what the message was, continue reading at LDSLiving.com.

 

 

 

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A 3-Step Spiritual Guide to Successful Dating & Marriage

by | LDS Living. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

A loving young couple spending time together at home

 

I had just received the news through some not-so-subtle hints.

She wasn’t interested.

 

(Insert disappointed sigh here.)

 

Not that I was counting on it working out, per se, it’s just that . . . well, I was really hoping it might have. Yeah, it was just a crush; yeah, we might have only gone on a couple of dates; yeah, I wasn’t super emotionally invested . . . but I was at that point in life where it seemed that nothing was working out. (You know what I mean.) I was frustrated because whenever I liked a great girl, they weren’t interested; and when a great girl liked me, it didn’t seem right.

 

I was standing on a packed train when I had a prompting to open up to Doctrine & Covenants Section 90. I was not sure exactly what was there, but when I came across verse 24, I realized that God had put in a formula so that my relationships—in my dating life and in my future marriage—would really work! He packaged it up in three simple steps that could help me keep perspective. It filled my heart with hope—and it can fill your heart too.

 

 

To read those 3 steps, continue to LDSLiving.com.

 

 

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5 Steps When You Find Out They’re a TERRIBLE Kisser

by | Dates. Single | 2 comments

 

bad kisser

 

Most people have been there–they find out their person is terrible at kissing.

 

For the few who don’t think they have…well, you are probably the reason most have been there.

 

A few months ago, I got an email from a one “SassyBerries” who claimed she was using her 5th grade email account to stay anonymous. She asked,

 

‘What do I do when, on a 4th date, I find out that this guy I met on Tinder and really like is just awful at kissing? The kissing is sloppy at best and painful at worst. HELP!’

 

First, take a breath…put down the breakup text. Are they new to kissing, have they just not been taught correct principles or what? Give him a break before you do anything rash.

 

Second, train with nonverbal by pulling away when they do something you don’t like.

 

Third, congratulate good behavior and complement them on what they do well.

 

Fourth, ask them if they would be interested in kissing in new ways or tell them what to do. Avoid at all costs telling them “Don’t do that.”

 

And fifth, get off Tinder, stop kissing and just take the next step in life.

 

Look, things are really complicated with relationships…in our minds. We over complicate them with a myriad of things–physicality being one of them.

 

I do want to applaud you for waiting until a 4th date to kiss him though. You shouldn’t give out your kisses like pretzels (that just leaves you thirsty for more).

 

When I was dating, I only had one rule with timing on kisses: don’t kiss the first day you meet someone.

 

Then I met my wife. But alas…another story that I’m sure my mother in law would love for me to re-tell.

 

See, kissing is a great part of dating, but trust, me, there are way better parts.

 

I’ve dated people that are great at kissing and there was no connection.

I’ve dated people that are terrible at kissing and there was connection.

 

The latter is always a better experience.

 

When it comes to physicality, I’d rather feel happy than satisfied.

 

No matter how many times you plug a lamp into a dead outlet, there will never be light. Look for the spark, then try the lamp.

 

The question shouldn’t be are they are terrible kisser, but are they a terrible person? And then, are they a great person? And then, are they a great person for me? And finally, am I a great person for them?
So miss SassyBerries, let kissing take its course as you give him your kissing course.

 

 

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Stand Together; but Not Too Close

by | Family. Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

old couple

 

A month ago, my wife and I were at a beautiful beach wedding in the Dominican Republic. The groom’s father stood up to give a toast, and instead of a speech, he simply read from the works of a turn of the century poet and philosopher, Kahlil Gibran.

 

The essence of the poem is found in the last stanza,

 

be pilars“Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart”

(“On Marriage,” The Prophet)

 

I was honestly bugged by that poem.

 

I mean, shouldn’t you stand by your spouse no matter what and be their everything and have them be your everything? Isn’t that the point of marriage for two to become one? A complete trust in giving your heart?

 

The poem and my confused frustration stuck with me until we found ourselves at another wedding sitting across from Lanor. She was a fast-talking, energetic, divorced New Yorker who had been a “shrink” for over 40 years focusing on family and marriage.

 

I asked her for advice. (…I mean, how could I not?!)

 

“Don’t make each other your sole source of happiness.”

 

That’s when it clicked.

 

It isn’t that we can’t spend a lot of time together and give of our hearts completely one to another, but that at the end of the day, we must realize that we are both human.

We both make mistakes.

We fall short.

 

As pillars holding up the short roof of the temple, we must remember that togetherness is at times apartness—for when one feels weak, the other can give more.

 

If our happiness is completely based on our significant other, then we’ll only be happy when we are feeling 100% and they are feeling 100%. Which happens far less behind closed doors than any are willing to admit.

 

Basically, we can’t rejoice in each other, but not rely on each other for joy.

 

Isn’t the scriptures even clear on this subject about not trusting in the arm of flesh?

 

If we first become content with ourselves and in our own individual happiness, then we can supplement that happiness with a companion and be more optimistic about life.

 

Because as with a mission so too with marriage—no matter how good life is, if the relationship is rough, everything is rough; and conversely, no matter how rough life is, if the relationship is good, everything is good (or at least we know it will be).

 

So as we stand in holy places under the temple marriage roof, truly, we must remember to stand together, but not too close.

 

 

Dating Never Works Zack Oates

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6 Reasons Marriage Will Never Make You Happy

by | inspiration. Love. Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

marriage is hard

 

“Zack, you just can’t understand the happiness I feel—because you’re single.”

 

My friend had been married for almost a year and was telling me about the void he felt in his life before he was married. Marriage filled that void.

 

At the time, I was single and just couldn’t understand the ‘happiness that would forever evade me if I stayed in my pathetic lonesome state.’

 

He spoke as if happiness was this great ocean before me and I was stuck on dry ground.

 

It bothered me.

 

And it really bothered me that he was one of too many people who had told me the same exact thing: ‘Happiness is on the other side of singledom.’

 

I always knew that if I was doing the right thing, I would be happy; and in my opinion, trying to get married was the right thing regardless if I made it yet or not!

 

See, I really liked my single life.
I loved my friends, the dance parties, the trips, the hot tubing and meeting new people.
I felt close to God and genuinely happy.

 

I never understood what void I was missing.

 

Now that I’m married I can say I really like my married life.
I loved my friends, the dance parties, the trips, the hot tubing and meeting new people.
I feel close to God and genuinely happy.

 

Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than winning the lottery; you may have more money, but studies have shown that happiness is all relative.
Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than going to church; you can be in the building and walk out empty hearted.
Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than you already are.

 

Yes, indeed, it isn’t marriage that makes you happy—it is your choice to be happy regardless of circumstance.

 

Marriage doesn’t change you, but it reveals yourself to yourself…and scarily enough…to another.

 

And no, marriage isn’t the same as being single, but it is as great as your attitude will allow it to be.

 

Charles Swindoll (author educator and pastor) said, “Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” (Daniel H. Johnston, Lessons for Living (2001), 29.)

 

Sure you can’t swim on the sand, but you also can’t build sand castles in the water. Both are great, if your attitude looks for the greatness.

 

But too often, we only see the sands of time slipping away our best years single while waiting to be happy when we’re married.

 

But waiting to be happy is like waiting for Godot.
Waiting to be happy is like starving to death waiting for a food truck while sitting on a loaf of bread.
Waiting to be happy is like searching the world for acres of diamonds that are hidden beneath your own home (that link is worth the read).

 

happy woman in marriage

But it isn’t like these married people are all lying. They genuinely (and erroneously) think that it is marriage that makes them happy.

 

So what is it then that all these married people are really talking about? If not marriage, then why are they happier than when they are single? It’s because…

 

Marriage gives you more opportunities to do the things that make you happy.

 

Let’s go through these six examples:

 

1. Giving genuine service makes you happy.
If you are seeking to always make someone’s day better, then you will be happy. You can do that single, but marriage puts you in fairly close proximity to one person every day whom you can serve.

 

2. Being loved makes you happy.
Whether or not you are single, there are people who love you, but it can be hard to see sometimes. Being married allows you to look down at your left hand and see that someone said, ‘Even you, Zack, are worth being loved.’

 

3. Best friends make you happy.
This ties very closely to being loved, but it is amazing knowing that I have a best friend who has my back. Marriage isn’t the only way to get this, though.

 

4. Purpose makes you happy.
We can have purpose whether we are single or married. Some people need a spouse to give them that purpose; others can have a spouse add to their purpose.

 

5. Having kids makes you happy.
Now I don’t know anything about this and quite frankly have heard mixed reviews about kids…but what I have heard in the end is that it is a sacrifice and service that goes beyond what I can now understand. I look forward to it and know that now that I’m married I’m one step closer to it—but whether or not you’re married, simply preparing for this step brings happiness. For are we not all mothers/fathers?

 

6. Coming closer to God makes you happy.
Yes, making promises with God and my wife brings happiness, but married people don’t have a monopoly on God’s love. As Jeffrey R Holland said, “The gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed” (“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You,” General Conference April 2016, original emphasis). If you are honestly trying to get married, that is enough.

 

So, to my dear friend who said that I couldn’t understand happiness, I thought you were wrong on the shores of singledom, and I still think you’re wrong in the ocean of matrimony.

 

While marriage provides a wonderful venue to practice these 6 (and many more) activities that creates happiness in one’s life; it never will make anyone happy. (After all, have you ever heard of “unhappy marriages?” About half of my married friends certainly have.)

 

Now, when people ask me if I’m happier married than when I was single, I’d say yes—but not because of marriage. I’m happier now because I am able to do those things more frequently that bring me happiness.

 

Don’t look to marriage tomorrow for happiness.

Do the things that truly make you happy today.

 

 

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Marriage Isn’t As Big a Deal As You May Think

by | LDS Living. Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

help my marriage

 

It was late, and my wife and I were getting ready to go to sleep. I rolled over and looked at her.

 

“What?” she asked, smiling at me.

 

I asked her a simple question: “How do you know that I love you?”

 

Certainly, I thought, it is going to be the surprise cruise honeymoon that cost thousands. Or maybe the book of 100 reasons why I love her that took over 10 hours to make. Or maybe the rose petals I saved from our proposal and pressed for Valentine’s Day. Surely, one of those things is how she knows I love her.

 

Her response left me speechless.

 

“Because you brought me my water bottle.” I had completely forgotten that I had grabbed her water bottle on the way to bed and handed it to her. She usually keeps it on her nightstand, but it happened to be in the kitchen, so I just brought it in.

 

“And because you did the dishes.” But she had cooked . . . isn’t that normal if she cooks and I clean?

 

“And because you text me during work.” Doesn’t everyone?

 

“And because you give me kisses.” Isn’t that for me too?

 

To be honest, I was a little bugged at first. She had mentioned so many little things that I hadn’t even thought about that I felt like my grand gestures hadn’t been appreciated. But then I remembered something I had read when we were engaged: “Marriage isn’t any big thing, it’s a lot of little things. Acts of kindness every day create a happy marriage” (John Bytheway, What We Wish We’d Known When We Were Newlyweds).

 

It wasn’t until my wife answered her own simple question that the quote made sense. That’s when I stopped looking for one really big way to yell “I LOVE YOU!” and instead made a goal to find lots of little ways to say the same three words.

 

But this advice isn’t just about marriage—it’s about all relationships, even those in our business and personal lives. Studies have shown that…

 

 

To read the rest of this post visit LDSLiving.com (source of picture as well).

 

 

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3 Habits That Could Make You Lose Your Testimony Without Realizing It

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

This post had over 200k visits to LDSLiving.com. Read the whole post there.

 

losing my testimony

 

It was a blistering hot day in NYC.

 

I was 23 and had graduated from BYU two months earlier. Now I was nearing the end of my summer internship at a very fast-paced advertising agency.

 

From my apartment window, I looked out over the Hudson River where a city that shimmered with opportunity lay before me. The whole world was looking bright, but inside, I felt…cloudy.

 

I had doubts.

 

I wasn’t sure where to live after my internship, what to do for work, and worst of all, I went from having a huge support system in Utah where everyone encouraged me to choose the right and where gospel conversations were a norm, to a bustling city where my thoughts rarely fell on the gospel. And when they did, it was mainly questions about Church history. I began doubting whether or not I believed in the Church anymore.

 

But how could I—someone who prayed every day, hadn’t skipped a day of reading my scriptures since I was 15—have doubts? In my mind, doubts were for those people who had serious struggles in life or who chose paths that took them away from the Church—not for an active returned missionary like me. Right?

 

It was at this time of great confusion that my friend called me from the airport, en route to his mission. After a few minutes of talking he said, “Zack, you don’t sound good.”

 

 

 

To read the rest of the post and the three things that that might make you be losing your testimony, go to LDSLiving.com.

 

 

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“How Did You Overcome Thoughts of Divorce?”

by | Love. Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | 1 comment

Mormon wedding

 

Whenever I have the chance and the situation is right, I’ll ask people who have been married a few years a question that is met first with surprise, then with confusion, then with deep contemplation and finally with wisdom.

 

The question is simple–but oh, so complex.

 

“How did you overcome thoughts of divorce?”

 

I’ve asked this question over a hundred times, and while it seems really probing, it is surprising how much people will tell you if you just ask. 

 

There are three categories of responses:

 

1) A handful said, ‘It honestly never crossed my mind.’

2) A few said, ‘I divorced them the first time, but as for this marriage…’

3) But most just say, ‘Phew–tough question…’

 

In the end though, they all tell me that marriage is “hard.”

 

Five months into marriage, I can say that the only hard thing is staying humble as I beat my wife in Rummikub over and over and over or making sure I don’t overcook the burgers on our Saturday bbq’s or finding a baby to hold during church.

 

Now I know that most of you married folks are thinking, ‘Ha…just wait.

 

And I know that things will get hard, but for now we are just enjoying our single married life (all the benefits of being single AND married).

 

But I know that there will come moments when playing games will seem like a distant memory, bbq’s will be a great time for me to get out of the house and we are going to be looking for some young naive couple to hold our kids during church.

 

And it is those hard times that yield solid wisdom..so that hopefully, when they come, we are not surprised, but we are ready.

 

So down to it–the advice.

 

The advice that I’ve been given most of the time as a result of this question is just as simple yet just as complex:

 

Just keep going.

 

Lift your head up from the thorns and see the beauty that is the garden.  

 

Yes there are hard times, but if you keep perspective that everything will work out, it does.

 

Now I’ve met a lot of people where ‘working out’ means divorce and I’ve seem many situations that require divorce. Those are not the situations that people are talking about. Nor are they the situations that Dr. Alan J Hawkins, a man who has devoted his life to studying marriages was talking about when he said, “a large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there and avoid divorce end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later.” (“Should I keep Trying to Work it Out”)

 

Or, in the words of Jeffrey R Holland, “Don’t give up…Don’t you quit….You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead–a lot of it…You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come” (“An High Priest of Good things to Come,” Oct 1999 General conference) 
I’m grateful for the wisdom of religious leaders, social scientists and the 100+ people who have helped me to see that building up enough momentum during the fun downhill parts of marriage will give you enough inertia and desire to get you through the hard uphill parts as well.

 

 

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