How To Make Decisions About Marriage?

Don’t You Dare Have Kids Until You Read This!

It’s a question few people take the time to ask themselves: Am I ready to have a child? In his new book, Don’t You Dare Have Kids Until You Read This! (Three Rivers Press, 2003), Corey Donaldson doesn’t claim to have the answer. Instead, he brings up a few more questions, more than 500 to be exact.

Although the Australian-born Donaldson, who now lives in Ogden, Utah, doesn’t have kids of his own, the whole point of his project is to get people asking the right questions before they make life-altering decisions. It’s the approach he takes in his own life, and he thinks it can work for others as well.

Mr. Right Asks the Right Questions

Donaldson “met” his wife, Phaidra, via the U.S. Postal Service three years before they met face to face. Finally, after a long correspondence, they agreed to split the cost of a ticket for her to fly to Australia. After she had been there a month, they decided to get married. Although Donaldson was sure he was in love, he was realistic enough to realize that he hadn’t spent much time with this woman. Taking an intellectual approach, he looked for a book that would help him solidify his decision and didn’t find one.

Still seeking to assure himself that he was making the right decision, Donaldson began interviewing his family and friends. Before he and Phaidra married, he made sure they addressed as many of those questions as possible. Eventually, he interviewed more than 1500 people, and out of that grew his first book, Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This! (Three Rivers Press, revised edition2001). It’s a chronicle of how to approach marriage in such a way that very little is left to chance. Donaldson is convinced that if everyone took his approach, divorce would become a thing of the past.

(Three Rivers Press, revised edition 2001). It’s a chronicle of how to approach marriage in such a way that very little is left to chance. Donaldson is convinced that if everyone took his approach, divorce would become a thing of the past.

Now the couple is thinking about having a child and have decided to make sure they’re ready for a step this significant in the same way they prepared for their marriage. The dedication in Don’t You Dare Have Kids Until You Read This! (Three Rivers Press, 2003) reads: “To my firstborn. The way is being prepared for you.” It’s probably safe to say that kid will be wanted.

Cars, Houses, Spouses, and Babies

Reading the introduction to both of his books, no one could accuse Donaldson of not being a romantic guy. All the same, he’s aiming to take some of the emotion out of decisions that often have an emotional base that can overrule common sense.

“With most of the big decisions in life, such as what kind of house or car to buy or which career to pursue, we ask ourselves detailed questions because it’s so important to get it right,” says Donaldson. “But with the biggest decisions in life – marriage and children – questions don’t seem to be important. The decision is often made on an emotional level without a good foundation of reasoning.”

In researching his book, Donaldson said that when he asked people why they wanted to have children, the answer was, almost invariably, “I don’t know, I just want children.” To him, that’s not a good answer.

Even though Donaldson has no children of his own, he knows a little something about them thanks to his own family. As the second oldest of 11 children, he had plenty of younger siblings to help out with throughout his life. He sees his parents as an ideal example of what parents can be and always says he’ll pass on to his child what his father passed on to him: always to try to be a better person than he was.

All Joking Aside

Donaldson is cheerful, funny, and pleasant in interviews with his cocky Aussie accent and a tendency to call everyone “Mate” as if he’s known them for years. But he’s also serious about his subject and so are his books. Despite their breezy titles, they present an extremely straightforward approach to marriage and parenthood. Adding credibility to his message is the reader’s journey when reflecting on his doubts, uncertainties, and questions.

In the introduction of Don’t You Dare Have Kids Until You Read This! (Three Rivers Press, 2003) Donaldson points out that children in our society are often horribly mistreated. While his fondest hope is that parents who may be future abusers recognize their tendencies and avoid having children, the reality is that probably won’t happen very often. He notes that we, as a society, have to deal with these children thanks to their evil parents and urges those who would be good parents to go ahead and have children because they would provide an ideal environment. However, it would have been quite compelling if Donaldson had challenged those future “good parents” to forego biological children instead of taking on poorly parented children and helping to turn their lives around.

The book is very insightful and intrinsically valuable. It may even be troubling for some marriages. Donaldson admits that the answers to the questions may force some couples to make hard decisions about their more critical: child or spouse.

Laughing With Us

It’s not a humorous book, but it isn’t dry as dust either. It’s peppered throughout with amusing cartoons and thought-provoking quotes from parenting experts as diverse as Stephen Covey and Shakespeare. My personal favorite, attributed to a father of four, is this: “When she calls me on the cell phone and asks me how far I am from home, I know things are really bad.” My husband would recognize that universal distress call.

The questions themselves are well thought out and cover every possible scenario of childhood. The book is also an easy read and is divided logically from preconception to the teen years. It’s something you can go through carefully, take notes on your answers, and then, when you have a 15-year-old daughter slamming her door because you wouldn’t let her out of the house in a see-through tee-shirt, you can take it out to remind yourself that you did think you were prepared.

Are YOU Ready?

Here is a small sampling of the questions in Corey Donaldson’s book:

  • Why do you want children?
  • Would you want to be raised by yourself?
  • Which meals of the day will you eat as a family?
  • How would you feel if, after your spouse got home from work at the end of the day to find the house a mess, they said, “What have you been doing all day?”
  • Will you go together to the doctor’s office during and after pregnancy?
  • Who is more qualified to give correct pregnancy advice, the wife’s mother or the husband’s?
  • Whom do you want never to babysit your children?
  • Should you buy gifts for infants at birthdays or Christmas even though they have no idea what is going on?
  • How will you raise your children differently from the way that you were presented?
  • What mistakes have you made in life that you do not want your children to make?
  • What would you do if you discovered that your teen frequents porn Web sites?
  • What have you learned about yourself as a result of considering these questions thus far?

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