S01 E03 - Marriage: The Great Adventure with Zack and Annie Oates


The following post was written by Zack Oates and originally published on LDS Living. I reposted it here because it fits so perfectly with the theme of this week's interview. Thanks for reading and thanks for listening! -Nate

I wasn’t afraid of marriage when I was single; I was thrilled for it. I was, however, absolutely petrified of getting bored in my marriage and watching it fall off of one of the four “cliffs” on the path of matrimony:

1. The Cliff of Regret (6 months)

I was afraid of six months into marriage, after the novelty of being a newlywed wears off, the bills start mounting, and the realization that you are “stuck” forever sets in like quicksand.

2. The Cliff of Boredom (1 year)

I was afraid to hit a year, when I begin to be totally bored with the monotony of seeing and living with the same person every day.

3. The Cliff of Exhaustion (kids)

I was afraid of having kids, when my spouse gets so stressed with kids that she stops being fun, and I start to look for ways and reasons to get out of the house.

4. The Cliff of Growing Apart (empty nesters)

I was afraid that after the kids all started going to school I would be left with a total stranger to call my spouse.

While I was single (check out Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does: 100 Lessons from 1,000 Dates for more on that topic), married people would often encourage me to get married the same way they might have tried to persuade me to eat caviar: they would tell me it was an expensive, acquired taste and hint that they didn’t want to be the only suckers who had tried it.

There was always a smack of, “Oh man, I miss the chocolate cake of being single. Live it up while you can…”

Conversations like these always left me unsure what to expect of marriage.

Should I choose to stay single and avoid the regret and bitterness or should I choose to get married and join the band of married men stealing from their rich past to give memories to their poor present?

Then I met my soon-to-be wife and the choice seemed obvious—neither.

After I met Annie, I started noticing a different perspective on marriage that I had missed before. You see, aside from the many who freely offered up dating advice emphasizing the nightmares of marriage, there are those who quietly lived out happy lives. They have adventures with each other, they plan fun activities with their kids, they still laugh at each other’s jokes, they truly enjoy spending time together, they disagree with respect...they have what I realized is real love.

So I decided to move forward and ask my wife to marry me.

Recently, I hit my 13-month mark in my own marriage. And as I rolled over in bed one morning, it hit me: I was still happy. I looked at my wife and I suddenly realized that just as we had a choice to avoid the first two cliffs, we could avoid the last two cliffs by continuing to make the choice to stay in love.

Just as we have the choice to be positive about dating, we also have the choice to be positive about marriage and starting a family.

It is a choice to be boring.

It is a choice to think kids ruin adventure.

It is a choice to pray together every day and pray for each other out loud.

It is a choice to have family night.

It is a choice to read the scriptures together.

It is a choice to do the dishes when you’re tired from work.

It is a choice to not say that critical comment.

It is a choice to find the positive in marriage and not let the fears leave our relationship on the cliffhanger of a bright future.

Our adopted grandma and dear friend gave us marriage advice when we got engaged: “You make a choice to marry someone and then make the choice every day to make it the right choice.”

I’m grateful for the choice we have to avoid the “cliffs" of marriage and I hope and pray that we can each make those choices daily to stay positive about finding a spouse and/or stay grateful for having one.

It's Nate again. As proof that their marriage truly is as amazing, adventerous, and wonderful as Zack says it is, that they really have avoided the cliffs, and that it's not just Zack being his wonderfully passionate and positive self, here's a blurb from one of Annie's recent Instagram posts:

zack and annie 2.jpg
"Two years ago today I met my best friend. Two months after that we got engaged, and four months after that we got married. I never thought I'd meet someone more fun than my single life, but I also never thought someone like Zack Oates existed."
-Annie Oates

About Our Guests

zack and annie.jpg

Zack Oates is an entrepreneur, hot tubber, blogger and husband (but not in that order, necessarily). 

It took him over 1,000 dates to find his wife (worth the wait) and has documented his journey on BowlofOates.com

Annie is a Fashion designer who runs her a design shop and shows off her up-cycling at heyannieo.com when she's not momming or wifing it up like a boss.

They are a hashtag power couple.

Check Out Zack's Book:

Dating expert Zack Oates has experienced it all in this comical guide that will keep you happy and laughing. 

Navigate through the complexities of friend zones, first dates, relationships, and breaking up all to reach the goal of love. Oates delivers practice yet lighthearted advice to assist with this lifetime adventure. 

Perfect for audiences in dating situations of all kinds, these encouraging steps will help you find your final one and only.

"If you are like me, an almost thirty, flirty, and thriving Independent female who rolls their eyes at another piece of dating advice, and avoids internet dating like the plague, this book is for you! I pulled my pen out a few paragraphs in and started underlining and note taking, Zack presets his slew of experiences and gleaned knowledge in the least condescending and insightful ways! Read this, its quality advice and provided loads of humor!"
-Amanda [Amazon Certified Review]

Show Notes

If you'd like to join hundreds of other couples in The 1% Club who are committed to having an incredible marriage, please click here. We'd LOVE to have you join us!

  • 3:30 - The most important mentors in life are those who are just a few steps ahead of you.
  • 4:30 - How Zack and Annie met
  • 5:20 - Rule #1: You can kiss on the first date, as long as you marry them!
  • 6:15  - What Zack learned after 1000 dates
  • 7:20 - Fireworks vs Smolder
  • 8:40 - “God, if this wrong, tell me now….because I’m going for it!”
  • 9:10 - Choose your love, and love your choice.
  • 10:15 - Lots of people like to warn us that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but it doesn’t have to be that way
  • 10:30 - Mission lesson: It’s not about obedience, it’s about love. “Obedience is the first law, but love is the greatest” Marriage is very similar. Love and serve your companion.
  • 12:45 - “You’ve made your choice. Now, spend the rest of your life making it the right choice.”
  • 14:30 The first year of marriage was not as hard as everyone painted it to be, but it was still an adjustment for them.
  • 17:15 - If your friends are having a bad day or do something mean, you can leave. But in marriage, you’ve got to deal with it!
  • 18:00 Marriage is easier than dating - it’s a different kind of hard.
  • 19:45 There are many people who will say, regardless of what stage of life you’re in, “Oh [this stage] is the worst!”
  • 12:30 There are other people who will say that whatever stage is NEXT in life, is the hardest. “You just wait!”
  • 21:00 People who are optimistic will always be able to find the good. (and vice versa)
  • 22:10 Slug Bug analogy. “You find what you’re looking for.”
  • 23:50 If you want to hear the voice of God, listen. If you want to see the hand of God, look. If you want to feel the love of God, serve.
  • 24:15 “The world, with all its sham and drudgery, is still a beautiful place.” There is an abundance of joy available to us, but we have to CHOOSE to take it.
  • 25:30 The ritual of a Weekly Companionship Inventory
  • 26:15 Things that make marriage hard - family, sex, money, communication, and forgetting the small stuff. Companionship inventory helps to address all of these things on a regular basis.
  • 27:40 Steps to a good inventory: #1. Offer a reason you love the other specifically from the week #2. Ask what can I do to improve or be better #3. Go over finances #4. Set your schedule for the week.
  • 28:45 “Real-time feedback”
  • 29:45 Go to marriage counseling BEFORE there is a problem. Gather the tools and skills you need to be prepared when issues arise.
  • 30:15 While communicating, learn how to dig for the deeper meaning or intentions behind your partner’s words. Sometimes the conversation needs to keep going in order to truly understand each other. Get to the root issue.
  • 31:00 A lot of our actions are rooted in our fears and insecurities. It’s important to understand what our partner’s fears are in order to have context surrounding why they do what they do. This can lead to more empathy versus anger.
  • 32:00 Fight or Flight mode is instinctual during arguments and stress. When your partner shuts down, lashes out, or takes flight during an argument, it’s not effective to just tell them to stop or return the anger. It’s important to ask yourself, “What could I be doing that has put them into fight or flight mode? What am I doing that is making them feel unsafe?”
  • 33:00 The other person’s perception of reality is the only reality that they have.
  • 36:05 Low Negativity Threshold (resolve issues quickly to avoid resentment)
  • 37:45 Dishes analogy
  • 38:25 Your brain perceives emotional pain in the same place that it perceives physical pain. Our natural instinct is to pull away from whatever is causing us pain. You need to repair that emotional wound in order to close the gap that the hurt created.
  • 40:30 An apology does not have to be an admission of guilt, but an opportunity to heal your partner
  • 41:30 Be quick to apologize and quick to forgive. Acknowledge the hurt that was made, heal, and move on.
  • 42:05 Give genuine compliments often.
  • 44:00 If marriage is for eternity, why not make is something to be stoked about?
  • 44:45 Surround yourself with people who LOVE marriage and have a positive outlook.
  • 47:10 Find what you value most and have a “thing” that you do together. Always have something to look forward to.
  • 49:30 Alma 32 - comparing the seed to love and marriage (it takes effort and nourishment)
  • 52:25 In dating, sometimes there are good seeds and good soil that just aren’t compatible with each other, and that’s okay!
  • 55:25 When the seed finally takes root and begins to grow, even if it’s slow,
  • it can truly become something “sweet above all that is sweet”
  • 56:20 Marry your best friend
  • 56:30 “Strive to be happy”
  • 57:05 “Teach it to me, or take it from me”

The incredible photos on this site were generously donated by the incredibly Talented Scott Jarvie. Hire him for your wedding or purchase his beautiful book, Mormon Temples in America.