5 Relationship Questions You Didn’t Realize Were Answered in Alma 32

Shot of an affectionate young couple relaxing at home

Alma gives a beautiful dissertation about the seed of faith in Alma 32.


But as I read this chapter recently, I realized that the advice and principles in it are just as true if you change the word “faith” to “relationship.” Here are the answers to five common relationship questions, as explained by Alma 32.


1. How do I know if I’m dating the right person?

“Now we will compare the [relationship] unto a seed. Now if ye give place, that a [relationship] may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true [relationship], or a good [relationship], if ye do not cast it out by your [pickiness, laziness, busyness, fear of commitment, etc.]…it will begin to swell within your breasts…”


Jonn D. Claybaugh said, “Some people expect the Lord to provide a dramatic revelation about their eternal mate, but what usually happens is that we drop our defenses and communicate with a potential spouse, we experience subtle, ongoing spiritual promptings about the relationship. Inspiration can come only when we are honest with ourselves, our potential mates, and the Lord” (“Dating: A Time to Become Best Friends,” Ensign, Apr 1994)


2. Once I’ve found a good relationship, then what?

“As the [relationship] beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us.”


Spencer W. Kimball said, “The successful marriage depends in large measure upon the preparation made in approaching it…One cannot pick the ripe, rich, luscious fruit from a tree that was never planted, nurtured, nor pruned” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 242).


3. The relationship is dying after it was growing. Not my fault, right?

“But if ye neglect the [relationship]…when the heat of the sun cometh…it hath no root and withers away…Now, this is not because the [relationship] was not good…but it is because your ground is barren.”


Yikes! We must remember that who we are affects how our relationship grows.

5 Relationship Questions You Didn’t Realize Were Answered in Alma 32

4. How do you know when the seed has grown into “true love?”

“…ye will begin to say within yourselves—it must needs be that this is a good [relationship]…for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”


David O. McKay said, “‘How may I know when I am in love?’ That is a very important question…in the presence of the girl you truly love you do not feel to grovel; in her presence you do not attempt to take advantage of her; in her presence you feel that you would like to be everything that a [great man] should become, for she will inspire you to that idea. And I ask you young women to cherish that same guide. What does he inspire in you?” (“Chapter 14: Preparing for an Eternal Marriage and Family,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay)


5. Is all this work worth it?

“But if ye will nourish the [relationship]…as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience…behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet.”



(To read the actual commentary and not just quotes AND a nice little ending, read the full article (3-min read) at LDSLiving.com!)


If I were Rich, I would be Married…but Not for the Reason You Think


dating rich people

A few years ago I had a startup. It got some good publicity, I was working with some huge companies and it was a lot of fun.


Then I found out that my main competitor sold for $80million to Facebook.




While things turned out fine with my company, it never was sold for that many commas.


I have, from time to time, imagined what my life would have been like had my company been the one to sell for $80M.


One thing is almost for sure: I’d be married already.


…but not for the reason you think.


I wouldn’t be married because I would have found some gold digger, but rather because more girls would have given me a chance.


See, I know that there are people whom I could have married (granted, I’m SO GRATEFUL I didn’t so that I could meet someone as incredible as my fiancee), but they just never gave things a shot when I was in the right place.


While money wouldn’t have bought them, it might have helped them to go on one more date, keep their mind open a little bit more, ignore some of the stories and preconceived notions of what a small-time dating blogger might be like. We might have fallen in love and gotten married. But it wasn’t until Annie that the right girl gave it the right shot at the right time…and I still don’t have $80M.


Now here is where it comes down to what is important: YOU!


All I’m saying is this: there are people, whom you probably already know, that you can marry, if you just give it a shot. Pretend as if they do have all the money you could ever want and ask yourself if you would honestly try just one more time.


So look over to your friend list, overlook your initial impressions and really look it over. Keep your heart open to the possibility and just give it one more honest chance to find love. I’m not saying find some tatted up crazy person and try to fall in love, but don’t be so scared because someone isn’t as attractive, isn’t as funny, isn’t as dynamic or isn’t as rich. You may just be seeing things wrong.


Because they might not be a millionaire…but, I think it was in the Bible or Gandhi or something who penned the ever-true words, “Money can’t buy me love.”




Before You Dump the Perfect Prospect (on Paper) Read these 5 Principles

dating frustration


Wait, you’re NOT going to keep going out with him?! He’s tall, good looking, super cool, solid in the gospel, smart, great family, and you know he’s going to be rich—what more could you possibly want?”


The condescending tone in your roommate’s voice is familiar.


You mumble a response filled with certain confusion, “I mean, he’s awesome…but I’m just not excited about it.”


“You’re getting too old to be this picky, you know.”


A flush of frustration begins to bubble up, but you realize that it’s true. Still, you know what you feel, even if you can’t quite explain it and drop to defensiveness, “I thought you told me last week that I shouldn’t settle.”


“[ugh] You’re just stupid.”


We’ve all been there.

We’ve been the one confused at the uncertainty, when all logic points to certain.

We’ve been the roommate, exasperated at the friend dropping the person they secretly wish they could have dated.

We’ve even been the poor sap left for no seemingly good reason wondering, ‘is something wrong with me?’


This situation boils down to one question:

Should I keep dating someone even if I’m not excited about them? Or in other words, how do I settle without settling?


At times, we find ourselves with those who are perfect on paper but prosaic in person and something just doesn’t propel you to pursue the possibility of considering them to be a positive prospect.


Do you have to make the choice between finding someone that you are super excited about, but you know they might not be a good fit for you; or someone who is perfect for you, but you just aren’t excited about?


THE ANSWER IS NO!!!!! (Why you gotta be so rude?) …so long as you abide by these 5 principles.



  1. Love is a choice.

Love doesn’t always just happen to you. You must work for it and put time into it through serving them. Don’t make yourself a martyr to emotions and a victim to fate. You have agency in love. Yes, truly, you have agency in love. I’m going to say that one more time…you have agency in love.


  1. Make a list.

If you don’t have a list where you can objectively see if the potential person is worth a shot, you might either dive in with the wrong person and ignore red flags because there is too much emotion involved, or you will toss great people to the side and make up excuses not to date them because there isn’t enough emotion.

SERIOUSLY…try these 4 steps out right now to make your list. I PROMISE this 10-minute activity of coming up with a list will help you get married.


  1. Be open to the possibility of love.

This includes getting rid of old heartstrings and not dating so many people at the same time to help you differentiate your emotions.


  1. Wait with wisdom.

Give it some time and be patient. Not like going out with the same person that you are woefully indifferent towards for months, but give it a few dates. Try things out and be open. Know though, that if you aren’t open to the possibility of love, you’re wasting everyone’s time.


  1. Be honest with yourself.

Believe that you are abiding by the first four principles and then follow your heart…just don’t leave your brain behind. If you don’t like them, it is okay to move on and disregard all of those around you who are telling you how wrong you are.


At the end of the day, know this: You are not “stupid” just because you can’t understand why you don’t like that “perfect” person or because you got caught up in the “wrong” person. You are just…human.


When I’ve broken up with people for, according to outsiders, ‘no good reason,’ I’ve been attacked. But guess what? All of that led me to my fiancée—a woman that I’m thrilled to be with AND meets everything on paper.


I waited to find both for a simple reason: I felt I deserved it. And if a guy as fault-filled (even on paper) as me deserves it and got it…you certainly do too.



Five Realizations after Getting Engaged

Zack and Annie Oates
Our very first photo together the day after we met.


Two months ago, I was a single guy who just got back from an adventure lasting seven weeks–now I’m an engaged guy who is about to jump into another one lasting forever.




You read that right.


I’m engaged.


In analyzing the past two months from meeting Annie to proposing, I have often wondered, ‘Why, after 1,000+ dates, did I finally meet someone I with whom wanted to spend the rest of my life?’


I came to five realizations that may help you on your quest to either find what you’re looking for or to greater appreciate what you’ve found.


First: Choose Your Love

I blogged about this right when I got back from my globetrotting and truly mean it. The more you open your heart to love and serve, the more you fall in love. It is much more of a choice than I ever imagined. But even after you’re doing everything you can, a lot is just about timing. #MostFrustratingThingToTellASinglePerson #SorryButTrue


Second: Love Your Choice

Now there are things that I appreciate about previous people I’ve dated, but before, I was constantly looking for someone who bested the best at everything…a couple months ago, I started looking for someone with whom I got along really well and could love and work through whatever we were lacking, as a team.


Third: There isn’t Just One

This realization came only after understanding the first two a little more. I am so grateful that Annie said “Yes!” and I am so glad that previous relationships where I considered marriage didn’t work out…but if both parties in those previous relationships were both were committed, I could be in the place with someone else, and so could Annie. As a wonderful grandma taught me recently, you make your choice and then spend the rest of your life making it the right one.


Fourth: The List Matters

A few months ago, I created a list of must have’s and nice to have’s. I even wrote about that experience. From making a list I learned that everything that I want, Annie has! Previously I had always looked for “something better,” regardless of how good things were, because I was scared. I was scared that there would be something else that would come up on the imaginary list that I hadn’t anticipated and everything would be ruined. With an actual list, it made things much more clear in my mind.


Fifth: I have No Clue

First of all, I know no more about dating or relationships than I did a few months ago, and quite frankly, I think I might know less. See, I spent years writing this dating blog, supposedly about how to get married. But, when it came to the steps leading up to the proposal, I did everything wrong. I mean I didn’t follow any of my advice.

  • I kissed her the first day we met
  • I hung out with her every single day after that
  • I invited her to a family reunion 4 days after we met
  • I didn’t date other people when she left to Thailand and China
  • I made my intentions clear on dating her before she got back
  • I even proposed without talking to her about marriage


Basically, what I learned from all of this is something my mother has told me for years: follow your heart, but don’t leave your head behind.


Do what you know is right, when you feel it is right, but if you feel to make a positive deviation, get over your pride and do it. Because while there is wisdom in experience, your heart full of love is always better than than a head full of yourself.


Oh, and what is to become of this here blog?


Well, it is going to stay around.


After all, I’ve just proven that everything I’ve thought about the dating “rules” might be wrong. I have some correcting I need to do.




Why I’m Afraid of Marriage: Confessions of a Single LDS Man

happy newlywed


At the start of this year, I got tired of not being able to see the world. So, as some of you may know, I’ve been traveling a lot lately.


When I share this with my married friends, they usually say, “Get that all out of your system now, because when you’re married . . .”


Then they trail off into an assumed negative statement of common knowledge about how marriage means that life isn’t fun or something. (I’m not sure because no one ever finishes that sentence.)


Sure, it becomes more expensive and more difficult (especially with kids). But does excitement have to be drained out of a relationship because of family?


In pondering over that question, I realized one of my biggest fears about marriage is that life will become audaciously ordinary, banal—dull. 


Of the couples I have observed, there are very few marriages which look enjoyable to me. (Now admittedly, the couples in those relationships may be perfectly content; it just doesn’t seem like it would work for me.)


Not great odds. But determined to beat the odds, I started to consider the commonalities between the marriages I admired.

There were two factors I’ve noticed in marriages I admire:

1. They have respect for each other. They are friends.

2. They work for adventure. Not that they spend thousands of dollars a month traveling, but they share new experiences with each other.


To read the conclusion of this post, go to LDSLiving.com.

3-Word Formula to Choose Your Love

Young couple holding hands

“Choose your love and love your choice.” When Thomas S. Monson made that statement, I thought I understood what he was saying.


I still think that I get the second part—love your choice. To me, that means being committed.


But what does that first part mean? How do we choose our love?


We often get so lost in trying to understand what it means to choose our love, that we never gain what we want (or at least want to want): marriage. Or better-put, a great marriage.


For years I was convinced that I was doing my part to get married, until I realized recently that there was a three-word formula. It is a formula for helping us all to choose our  love—not just waiting around for him or her to appear.


  1. Open.
  2. Service.
  3. Time.


See, not long ago, I met this girl. She was pretty, smart, and motivated, but we weren’t really one another’s type. I thought she was a little too high-strung, and I could tell she thought I was immature (turns out one of us was right–her). I never asked her out, but we became good friends. Then one day, I thought to put the “choose your love” counsel from President Monson to the test and see if I could really like her. So I decided I would make myself vulnerable and not even care if she didn’t like me back. Every time I saw her, I would give her a compliment, try to make her day a little better, and be more eager to help her out. Basically, I served her. Not in a creepy way, but in a way to help her day be a little bit better.

Over time, something happened.


Week 1: I did not feel much of a change.

Week 2: I started to notice myself glancing at her more often.

Week 3: I caught myself thinking about her randomly.

Week 4: I noticed butterflies.

Week 6: I was looking forward to seeing her.

Week 7: I really liked her . . . a lot.


I realized this was the same lesson I learned on my mission with difficult companionships, but I didn’t think it would translate into romantic relationships as well. But why shouldn’t it?


Gordon B. Hinckley said, “If every husband and every wife,” (and I don’t think he is excluding singles,) “would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce” (“The Women in Our Lives,” General Conference, Oct. 2004).


To read the conclusion of this post and my epiphany on how this relates to the Atonement, continue reading at LDSLIVING.com <–click that!

3 Reasons Why You Fell Out of LIKE

planing a relationship seed


Wow. She was amazing.


You met at the bonfire and couldn’t hardly sleep that night thinking about her.


The next day you found her on fbook and then messaged her and got her number.


You went out on a few dates and there were just sparks like crazy.


After a few dates, you even kiss her!


Things are going so well…until one day about two weeks into this, you go to another bonfire and meet someone else. You ignore the text of the first girl and slowly stop calling her back as this new girl starts to envelop your thoughts.


And by the beginning of week three, the first girl is a distant memory, a story, and another tally when you are asked how many people you’ve kissed.




On the subject of falling out of love, I can’t comment. I’ve been in love a few times and each time, the conclusion has been involuntary.


But on getting over liking someone, ah, this blog has volumes on that.


I’ve found there are typically three reasons why we fall out of like:


  1. Something is wrong with them. Before you go off about this, it is important that you do this one task: write down specifically WHY you don’t want to date them anymore. Share it with a couple of people and see if you really are incompatible with them or if you are victim of the second reason.
  2. Something is wrong with YOU. Yes, you have issues, my friend. You fake date. You look for crushes instead of foundations. You are not over that ex. You have daddy problems. Or….you don’t think you have issues, in which case, you are in denial. Whatever the case may be, make sure you fix you to a point that you can let someone into your heart and life. You don’t have to be perfect, but workable. I promise it isn’t as scary as people think it is…or so my therapist tells me.
  3. The relationship is wrong. Ah, the indescribable, irrational and irritatingly honest, ‘not sure why, but just don’t feel right about it’ thing. It really is a real thing (sometimes). And as long as you are being honest with number one and two, I would take this for a decent answer. BUT BUYER BEWARE: if you abuse this, you will be held accountable at the last day (a.k.a. when you turn 31 and are kicked out of a singles ward).


So remember to use caution when throwing a crush into the wind. It might just be the perfect seed to your soil if you would but ‘Alma 32’ that relationship.



Why I Only Hang Around Beautiful People

lots of ugly fish in the sea

I hope you aren’t the person offended by this post, but if you are, I sincerely apologize for the hurt caused, but not for the truth written.


I try to make it a habit to only be around beautiful people.
And before you judge me, know that you do too.


Because by beautiful, I don’t mean supermodel (although I’m not opposed, per se), but I mean beautiful souls. Usually, a common factor in all beautiful people is an ease when it comes to gratitude. Despite all they lack, there is a steady awareness of what that they do have. And it is that type of person who uplifts all around them. That is why we love being with them.


One of the biggest disparities between the beautiful and ‘not beautiful’ is in the singles ward.


While there are some of the most beautiful and positive people I have ever met, there are also people who have given up and can only see and speak about that which they don’t have.


We all have been that ugly person at times. When things have been super hard at times, I have been guilty of complaining about the people I’ve been out with, envious when my friends find their special person, bad talking exes and ranting on social media [insert ironic comment here].


But guess what?


That just perpetuates the ugliness!


We need to take a step back from the judging throne, recalibrate our cynical conversations, take an honest inventory of our topics and sincerely consider the state of our heart.


Bitterness never was prettiness.


No one wants to marry an ugly Ursula, aka negative Nancy.


The more bitter we are, the more negative energy we put out and the less people will want to be around us.


So am I saying that we aren’t allowed to talk about our trials and our hardships or that sever depression is just something that we choose to have? No! But we need to be beautiful–truly beautiful.


Let’s stop talking about how little we get asked out, how bored we are of first dates and how disenchanted we are with our life situation–and let’s start expressing gratitude for our agency to flirt, the lessons we are learning and the opportunities to grow! There are a lot of fish in the sea, so let’s not to be that really ugly one.


Let’s plant more than we dig up.

Let’s build more than we break.

Let’s be beautiful more than bitter.


What’s More Important: Love or Loyalty?

Loyalty locks love

“Did I make a mistake?”


This is the question that almost every single married person has asked themselves at some point (and something that single people ask themselves daily)


Death, bad choices, hurtful words, emotional funks, and irritations usually lead spouses to take a look at their relationship and wonder on….then, often, wander off.


So what keeps the other half of America from getting divorced?


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in the van with 11 married men. Being the only single guy, everyone went around and gave me a piece of advice for life and marriage


While I undoubtedly will write about many of the things said, there is something that really stuck out to me–it centers around how marriages last.


The question of “successful” marriages came down to this: it is more about loyalty than love.


At the end of the ride, almost everyone in the van was in agreement: While love will get you married, it is loyalty that keeps you married.


As has been mentioned in previous posts, there is so much that changes after marriage, but it is that commitment to the marriage and to each other that will keep things together.


Even though there are difficulties and trials and the love will be there some days and irritation on others, if you have that loyalty to each other to stick it out, it can work


Now, there are obviously times when logic must triumph over both love and loyalty, but those cases are individual and should not be judged by any outside party.


But for those whose relationship doesn’t meet that logic level of lacking, when love is ebbing, fix firm on the resolve of loyalty…or so I’ve been told.

6 Words from a Dying Man that Changed My Perspective on Love

holding hands

Death was slowly reaching out his shaky fingers toward my Great Uncle Paul.

This dear man, a silent example of charity, was nearing the end of his year-long, bed-ridden battle with a degenerative nerve disease in his home—a home he built with his own hands for his barely budding family ages earlier. His body was feeble, and his words were scarce. In fact, he would say maybe three or four sentences a day.

I tried to visit him and his sweet wife, Della Mae, as often as I could—always finding myself a better person when I left for just being around their fairytale-like love (some people just have that effect on others, I guess).

When I stopped by one day, almost a week before he passed away, I had a life-changing experience (completely unexpected, as most are).

Della Mae was busily tiding up the living room around Paul’s bed. Unassumingly, quietly, and deliberately, Paul raised his gentle hand a few inches from the sheets where it lay.

“Della Mae . . .” It was too quiet; she didn’t hear. He rattled out a raspy cough. “Della Mae . . .”

She turned and rushed to his side, eager to accomplish any need of her beloved spouse.

“Yes, Paul?” she cheerfully asked.

I assumed he wanted something to eat, or some medicine, or just have his pillow rearranged.

But what he said surprised me. And his words forever changed me.