Do you have anxiety about getting a prenup and wondering how you can talk to your future spouse about it? The “p” talk (prenup talk) can bring on so many emotions, from anger to sadness, so it’s not surprising people experience anxiety around this topic! Well, look no further – this article will cover prenups in general, where prenup anxiety comes from, how to talk to your future spouse about it, dealing with negative reactions, and some FAQs to close it out.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
First off, let’s get a little background on what a prenuptial agreement (a.k.a. a prenup) actually is. It is a contract between two future spouses that outlines asset division, debt division, alimony, and more. Prenups can cover obligations both during the marriage and in the event of a divorce.
One lesser-known fact about prenups is that they are also as much of an emotional document as they are a legal one. How? Well, prenups require a heavy amount of partner communication (financial disclosure, negotiations, etc.) and also expectation setting and life alignment. Both future spouses must be on the same page in order to proceed with the prenup, so it can be a useful tool in setting up a successful marriage.
Why do people get prenups?
There are many reasons why people get prenups. For some folks; it’s simply a matter of protecting their assets. For others, it may be about protecting themselves if they are the lesser-earning spouse (meaning they get more support from their spouse in the event of a divorce). For some, it may be more about clarifying financial expectations and responsibilities in the relationship. Prenups can also provide a sense of security and peace of mind in case the marriage doesn’t work out, among many other benefits of prenups.
Common causes of prenup anxiety
So, if prenups are so great, then why do some people experience anxiety around them? While prenups can offer many benefits, they can also be a source of anxiety for many people. Here are some common reasons why some people may experience prenup anxiety and how to counter it:
Fear of marriage failure
Some people may view a prenup as a sign that the marriage is doomed to fail. Or even a “bad omen” to some more spiritual folks. They may worry that discussing a prenup will create unnecessary conflict and strain the relationship.
However, what some people fail to understand is that prenups are equally an emotional document as they are a financial one. Hear us out: in order to sign a prenup, you and your partner need to be in total alignment with life and financial goals. You must also set expectations for not only the divorce but also for the marriage. One could argue that getting a prenup actually sets a relationship up for success in this way.
Fear of discussing finances with their partner
Money is a major source of conflict in many relationships. Many folks are also very uncomfortable with the idea of talking about money, even with their spouse (it’s ingrained in our culture to find this uncomfortable)!
While this may be uncomfortable, it’s a necessary evil. You are merging your assets, debts, and all things financial with your spouse when you get married. You are becoming “one” in the eyes of the government, and that includes your finances. Talking about finances is something that you should do for your own knowledge and relationship development, even if you don’t get a prenup!
Fear of damaging trust in the relationship
Another source of prenup anxiety comes from the fear of ruining the trust in a relationship. Some people may think that wanting a prenup means that there is no trust in the relationship because you need to involve the law to make agreements. We understand this logic, but we want to counter that prenups are also emotional documents that facilitate in-depth communication, alignment on life and financial goals, and setting marital expectations.
Not to mention: around 50% of marriages end in divorce, and whether we want to hear it or not, people tend to be at odds during a divorce. So, having something on paper may help make that 50% chance of divorce a lot easier.
Negative experiences with divorce and/or prenups
The internet, media, and Hollywood are strong forces, and many times, the trope around prenups is extremely negative. What we often hear about are the “crazy” prenups or the prenups that only benefit one person (the rich, older man). These are just that–tropes–not necessarily real life. News media tends to pick and choose the most interesting things to talk about, which typically revolve around shocking/negative things. What they don’t report on are the thousands and thousands of prenups that help folks of all different financial statuses around the nation.
Or maybe someone has personally known someone with a bad prenup experience. Maybe their aunt or cousin had a bad prenup experience, and they’re terrified of them now. Let’s use an analogy for this: just because one person had a bad experience at the dentist’s office doesn’t mean going to the dentist is bad. Same goes for prenups.
How to communicate with your partner about prenup anxiety
Now that you might understand why you or your partner is experiencing prenup anxiety let’s dive into how to communicate these worries to your partner.
Timing is everything
Choose a time when you and your future spouse are both relaxed and free from distractions. Avoid discussing the prenup during or after a major argument or when one of you had a long, stressful day at work.
Be honest and open
Bring down the walls and open the conversation by explaining why you think a prenup is important to you and/or why you are worried about getting a prenup. Be honest and clear about your concerns and intentions.
Listen to your partner’s concerns
Part of good communication is actively listening. It’s important to be a good listener during this conversation. Make an effort to understand the “why” behind your partner’s perspective and concerns. Try not to interrupt or dismiss their feelings.
Seek professional help
If communication between the two of you just isn’t working well, a therapist or counselor can provide a safe place for you to explore your feelings and concerns together. They can also offer guidance on effective communication strategies and help you work through any issues that may be contributing to your anxiety.
How to deal with your partner’s negative reaction
Now, if you’re on the side of the fence where your PARTNER is the one with the prenup anxiety, listen up. It’s not unusual for one or both partners to have a negative reaction to the idea of a prenup. Here are some tips for dealing with your future spouse’s negative reaction(s):
Validate their feelings
Validate, validate, validate. It’s important to acknowledge their feelings, even if you disagree. Reiterate this by letting them know that you understand their concerns and that their feelings are important to you.
Again, listen to understand, don’t just listen and wait your turn to speak again. Try to avoid interrupting and becoming defensive while also trying to genuinely learn where their negative reaction is coming from.
Keep the conversation focused
Steer clear of throwing in old arguments during this time. Stay focused on the topic at hand–prenup anxiety.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, people! It may take some time for your future spouse to come around to the idea of a prenup, and that’s okay. Be patient and understanding, and continue to talk to them openly and honestly.
Give them space
If the communication isn’t going well, you might want to give them some space for a few hours or even days, respectfully. This means not pushing the issue if they’re not ready to discuss it and avoiding ultimatums or threats if they don’t agree to a prenup. Try setting a timeline to revisit the conversation and allow for space to think about it.
Revisit the conversation
As we mentioned in the previous section, you may want to set a timeline to revisit the conversation if the communication isn’t flowing. When revisiting the conversation, approach the topic with care and sensitivity. Repeat all the tips above in this second round of communication.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding prenup anxiety
Q: What is prenup anxiety?
A: Prenup anxiety refers to the stress, worry, or even discomfort that some individuals may feel when discussing prenups with their future spouse.
Q: Is it normal to be anxious about prenups?
A: Yes, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable discussing prenups with your partner. This can be a sensitive and emotionally charged topic for anyone!
Q: How can I manage my prenup anxiety?
A: Managing prenup anxiety can involve a range of strategies, such as seeking professional help, communicating openly with your partner, and taking breaks when needed.
Q: What if my partner doesn’t want a prenup?
A: If your partner doesn’t want a prenup, it’s important to listen to their perspective and understand their concerns. It may be helpful to revisit the conversation at a later time or seek professional help to navigate the issue. At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to get a prenup, so you will need to make a personal decision at that point.
The bottom line is discussing prenups with your partner can be a challenging but important conversation to have before getting married. While it’s normal to feel anxious or uncomfortable about the topic, remember to approach the conversation with care, honesty, and respect. By communicating openly and actively listening to each other’s concerns, you can work together to create a prenup that protects both your assets and your relationship.
You can always choose to seek out professional help from a therapist or counselor to help facilitate a safe space for communication on this topic.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]