Recent discussions and recollections compel me to record the following rule, Rule Number Five in My Book, for all posterity:
5. When a woman (or man) says she (or he) doesn’t want to have a child, take her (or him) at her (or his) word.
5a. Work on a better set of gender-inclusive singular pronouns.
—My Book, pp. 174
Why? Let’s assume that your potential spouse (I fully recognize that marriage is less-of-a-prerequisite-than-ever-before for having children, but I’m trying to pick up Disney and Chick-Fil-A as sponsors) is telling the truth and really doesn’t want kids. Your spouse’s mind may change eventually, but you are unlikely to bring about that change. If you have children anyway, there is a great risk that your spouse will be resentful. If you never have the kids, there is a great risk that you will grow increasingly miserable waiting around for a change-of-heart that just isn’t coming. It’s better to avoid the resentment and the misery and not get married.
Now let’s assume that your potential spouse is lying and actually does want kids. Either (A) this person is willing to have kids, just not with you, and therefore doesn’t want to marry you, in which case it’s already over and you just don’t know it yet, or (B) this person is a psychopath, which could be fun for a little while and interesting for even longer, but you’d better keep your thumb on the EJECT button.
If you’d like to be more politically correct, you can go back and replace “spouse” with “baby-mama” or “baby-daddy,” and “marriage” with “serious relationship that doesn’t require a ring because we don’t need a sheet of paper to tell us our love is like totally perfect and awesome, until I decide I want half and then we get for-real married.” The rule still works.
This post was prompted by a recent chat with a buddy, a subsequent memory of “Ingrid,” and the recollection of a graduation ceremony at which one of my former principals said, in essence, “Don’t get married with the expectation that you’re going to change the other person.” Sage advice from the Doc. To anyone whose feelings were hurt, I humbly apologize.