I dated a wonderful man for two years before I left on my mission. He was determined to wait for me while I served because he was certain that he wanted to marry me when I got home. I was thrilled that he felt that way, in fact, I felt the same, but I worried about the logistics of maintaining a long-distance non-relationship as a full time missionary. What were the odds this was really going to work out?

My first Sunday in the MTC, our Branch Presidency held a devotional. One of the members of the Presidency, Brother Stoddard, got up to speak to us. “I’m not here to give a traditional talk about a gospel principle,” he said. “I’m here to address any Elder or Sister who has someone waiting for them at home.” I was stunned. I couldn’t believe this issue, the very one I was facing, was being addressed. I knew the Lord was aware of my circumstances and I was eager to hear the message. “Most people will tell you to write them off, call it off, break up with them, and just focus on your mission, and they might be right,” he continued. “But I’m here to tell you that if you do it right, if you maintain a proper relationship and do this the right way, having that person at home can and will make you a better missionary.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was so excited to hear that I wasn’t making a mistake, that I could still be a good missionary even if I had someone at home. Just when I was feeling on top of the world, Brother Stoddard brought me back to reality. He informed us that statistically speaking, only 3% of “waiting-for-a-missionary” arrangements actually end up working out and leading to marriage. That was a punch to the gut, to say the least, but he followed up that disheartening fact with what he called his three ways to be a 3%er. These three tips remain, to this day, some of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received. So, if you have someone waiting for you at home, or are planning to have someone wait for you, and you want to have a successful mission and a successful relationship, here are the three things you may want to consider…