for release August 24, 2001
by Melodie Davis
Don't Get Married Until....
At age 23, Corey Donaldson of Melbourne Australia, was dating a woman who lived in the U.S. Talk about a long distance relationship. They knew they were seriously interested in each other but because he had seen many of his friends' families experience divorce, he "wanted to make sure I did it right the first time." So he started looking for a book with questions to ask before getting married that would reveal the issues that cause people to divorce. There wasn't one available. So he started asking people what questions to ask, and then he and his love interest, Phaidra, wrote to each other discussing their answers to the questions. The result was not only a wedding, but a book, "Don't You Dare Get Married Until You Read This" (Random House, 2001).
The book is technically the result of over 1500 interviews or conversations with a wide variety of people on the subject. "It became a passion for me. I like Otto Von Bismarck's line, 'I know I can learn from my own mistakes but I would rather learn from the mistakes of others.'" So even though Corey has now only been married five years, the questions come from persons with many years of experience combined, such as:
* Does it matter to you who earns most of the money?
* What does my family do that annoys you?
* Which side of the bed do you want to sleep on?
* If we have two cars, who gets to drive the newer one?
Fifteen hundred questions is of course way too much ground to cover with anyone, and couples need to use their own judgment in asking the questions that are right for them. But it is important to ask questions before you get married because the "majority of divorce-causing issues are there before you get married," says Corey.
I asked Corey if he had a smaller list, perhaps just ten questions that couples should be sure to ask. This is the short list:
1. Why should we not get married?
2. If there is an issue in our relationship that could cause a divorce, what would that issue be?
3. If we were to eliminate our physical attraction for each other, what would be left?
4. Are household duties dependent on the gender of each person?
5. Has anyone ever had a reason not to trust you?
6. What will be the role of religion in our marriage?
7. Are you gay?
8. Is there anything in your past you are not willing to share?
9. What are you not prepared to sacrifice when you get married?
10. What do you not like about me?
These questions may seem primed to find out the negative aspects of your relationship, or to pick a fight. As Corey says, there will obviously be difficulties in any marriage, so isn't it better to talk about them before marriage than after? If it causes you to break up, wouldn't you rather split before marriage?
He notes that the book, in fact, has possibly saved 36 percent of readers from not getting a divorce by serving as a caution, and they split up before marriage. He found this out because he had first published various editions of his book himself-and got feedback from people who had used the book. Thirty-six percent said after reading the book they decided they wouldn't get married. Interestingly, as Corey sold this book personally, he said the number of men buying his book equaled the number of women. So contrary to popular conception that it is only women who want to "talk through issues," Corey feels that people are interested in the book because no one wants to go into marriage and be unhappy.
Corey is a realist, who feels that the romance of marriage is like a magician's trick of "misdirection: romance makes you want to ignore the problem areas."
Corey also cautions at the end of his book not to use it to find the perfect mate, because you will never find a "perfect" one. But it will help you pinpoint what issues are so insurmountable that you don't want or can't overcome them, and what differences or issues you can live with. And we hope, mostly happily ever after.
What questions do you think couples should ask each other? Send to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 670 words; end material = 105 words
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©2001 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.
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