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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copy written. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Teaching RM's How to Date

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again and happy October!

I emailed you a while back about how I had been pushed a lot (and therefore concerned over) marriage and the next stage of my life. Your advice was short, simple, and sweet. So thank you for that!

I thought a lot more about it, and decided I don't know why I am stressing over it. I'm not doing anything wrong, and I am exactly on track with life...and when I graduate, go to college, and am ready for that next stage, I will be ready..... No need to worry over it beforehand!

So here is my next topic of concern, what do I do with a just returned RM who seems to have a "mini crush" on me?

(Actually, I don't know what you would call it...I don't guess it's really that.)

It's really not a big deal...and don't worry, it's not like he's a wack-job who has come home and proposed to the first girl he's seen (being the only girl in our ward that is a Laurel).

Nothing like that!

It's just quite simply, I feel stuck in a somewhat rough position.

I saw him at Church a bit when he got home, but never talked to him...and he began talking to me via chat on Facebook about two weeks ago.

He seems nice and all, and I mostly kept the subject around books and where he wants to go to college.

I hoped he was just looking for a friend or maybe just using me to get used to talking to girls again (Which I am fine with that.)

But then last Thursday he asked if I was busy over the weekend.

Not what I was hoping for.

I'm in my senior year of high school, finishing up my associates, with a job and an internship AND trying to have a yeah...I was busy (HELLO, if you want to do something with a girl, ask her more than a day or two in advance!) so that was an easy way out.

Then he told me that he was hoping we could "hang out" sometime (what does that even mean anyways!?) and gave me his number and said to let him know if I ever had a chance to do something and wasn't busy.

(Honestly though, no. Set a time, make it official, and don't expect me to call you on the off chance I am free...goodness, boys!)

I lost my phone though which I told him, and I avoided him at church last Sunday just because I didn't know what I would say.

He keeps talking to me on Facebook, and has said "hi" and had a conversation with me via Facebook about 4 or 5 times since.

I don't really know what to do.

I told my friend that I didn't want to "hang out" with him and she said that I was overreacting and it's not like he wanted to marry me (uh, I sort of figured that....) and to just do one thing with him.

But I'm busy, and to be honest, I don't feel comfortable with randomly "hanging out" with an RM whom I don't even really know...especially alone.

I love going on dates, don't get me wrong........but this is just different.

So, how do I nicely show him I'm just not "feeling it"?

Thanks so much!

- B

Dear B,

When a guy asks you if you want to "hang out” you should tell him "I'm choosing to follow prophetic advice ; I don't "hang out " with guys, but I do say yes when nice guys ask me on dates ".

(I wish more girls, like your friend, would get that . . . and guys, too.)

And, yes, if this guy asks you out on a date, you should go.

(Typically I would say that since you're still in High School and he's at least 21 that he needs to wait until you graduate, but in your situation, where you're a touch older and also going to college . . . let's just say I can understand both sides on this one.)

Give each of you a chance.

There's no truth to the notion that you need to be super attracted to or in love with, the people you go on dates with.

That said, there's also nothing wrong with doing a little date education, either, and requiting guys to give you proper notice and expecting them to be willing to work around your schedule.

- Bro Jo

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.


- 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:


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