How To Approach The Prenup Conversation: Advice from a Psychologist

Mar 22, 2024 | Communication, Prenuptial Agreements, Relationships

Alright. Let’s talk about prenups. Or, more specifically, let’s get you talking about prenups. When you think or talk about wedding planning, you probably run through the general party planning list – location, decor, food, music… Yet, one conversation that often gets forgotten (or actively avoided) is the discussion about a prenuptial agreement. 

Prenups have gotten a bad rap over the years. Some people sometimes see them as a sign that there is mistrust or lack of confidence in the relationship. How many times have you heard a prenup being dismissed, defining it as “planning for the worst”? 

Well, here’s the thing: planning doesn’t equate to wanting or predicting. As a clinical psychologist, I think it’s time we challenge these assumptions and reframe how we look at prenups. When the conversations (yes, that’s plural) are done with empathy, curiosity, and trust, a prenup is a beneficial tool for both partners – both before the marriage and for the marriage’s future. So, let’s dive into this more. 


What Really Is A Prenup? 

A prenuptial agreement, a.k.a. a “prenup,” is a written, legal agreement between two people who are engaged to be married. The prenup outlines certain property rights and financial arrangements (e.g., assets, debts, taxes, etc.) that both individuals agree to. In the case that a couple decides to separate in the future, a prenup allows the parties involved to avoid certain default state laws about how their property is divided, alimony, etc. In other words, a prenup is a legal document that lets you (the happy couple) dictate what you would like to happen and not default to state laws, which don’t take into account your personal wishes. 


Let’s Reframe

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique that focuses on shifting the way you view a situation, experience, idea, or emotion. 

Helping my clients shift their viewpoints, I’ve seen the following:  

  • Increased insights
  • Increased perspective taking 
  • Decreased negatively impactful emotions 
  • Increased positive emotions 
  • Aid in resiliency 

Before starting a conversation with your partner about a prenup, identify a few reframes. Some examples: 

Belief: “If my partner is asking for a prenup, it means they don’t think we’ll last.” 

Reframe: “My partner believes in us and wants to make sure we’re starting our marriage with a strong foundation so we will last.” 


Belief: “A prenup will put me in an unfair position. This is meant to take advantage of me.” 

Reframe: “A prenup will ensure that we’ve talked about what we each bring to the marriage and agree together on what feels fair if we ever need to divide our assets. We’re making sure that we are valuing what both partners need and this will reflect it.” 


Belief: “Prenups are for rich people. We don’t need one.” 

Reframe: “Doesn’t matter if we have money or not; the process is useful for us to gain clarity about our financial situation (current and future) and helps us keep talking about this as we are married.” 


Belief: “My partner asked for a prenup… they don’t trust me.” 

Reframe: “My partner trusts me – they’re sharing all their financial information with me and trust that we can make decisions together and still care for each other even in the off-chance we’re not married.” 


Belief: “If we talk or plan for divorce, we’ll get divorced.” 

Reframe: “We plan for all sorts of outcomes in life – car accidents, home robberies, getting sick… This is another thing we are planning for, but don’t want for it to happen. Talking about something won’t make it more likely to happen, but talking about it makes it more likely we’re both protected if it does happen.”


What are some beliefs that you may hold about prenups? What are beliefs that your partner may have? Identify them and take some time to think about how you might reframe them. 


The Actual Conversation(s)

It’s time to have the conversations. Let’s talk about ways to increase the chances that they will be productive and beneficial. 


Start Early, Have Them Frequently

This is not a one-and-done conversation. Thinking and forcing it to be that will result in a bad experience for you both. 

  • As soon as you are engaged or even when you are having discussions about marriage, begin speaking about a prenup.
  • Don’t spring this on your partner! If you’re engaged and have never spoken about a prenup, make sure they know what the conversation is about and when you’re having that conversation. Something like, “As we are wedding planning I’d like for us to explore the idea of a prenup together. Let’s research more about it together tomorrow night. We can talk about all the things we’re worried about, too.” This lets your partner know that this is a collaborative process. 
  • Have these conversations often. It releases the pressure to figure everything out all at once. Each partner may need time to process before returning to talk about it more.
  • Schedule them. If it feels uncomfortable, you and/or your partner will likely find ways to do anything else. Find days and times to schedule these talks – you’re more likely to stick to it. 


Show and Assume Positive Intent 

To have productive conversations, you both have to assume that the other person has positive intentions. You also have to believe this will mutually benefit you both. How can you do that? 

  • Be curious. If you’re unsure of why your partner has made a request or decision, ask them. Assume they have a good reason and that it isn’t to put you in a bad place.
  • Think out loud. If there were ever a time to share more of your thinking, this would be it. Hearing each other’s thought processes helps to show your positive intentions and decrease misunderstandings or misassumptions. 


Talk About Your Fears

Don’t keep your worries and fears bottled up. Not sure how to talk about it? Try: 

  • Writing down your worries and fears. Read over them and see which ones to talk to your partner about first. 
  • Writing your partner a letter/text/email.
  • Setting aside a time for you both to share all your worries and fears. 
  • Gamifying it – take turns sharing one at a time until you have nothing left to share.

Once the fears and worries have been shared, make sure to be curious about what drives them. Understanding where it’s coming from can help address it. 


Broaden The Conversations

Don’t miss the opportunity for these conversations to strengthen your relationship. When utilized correctly, these conversations are setting you up for a long, healthy marriage. 

  • Identify and talk about personal values
  • Be curious about your partner and your priorities 
  • Practice making requests and compromises 
  • Practice sharing disagreements
  • Practice sharing  


Have Fun! 

No, I’m not going to pretend that conversations about a prenup are fun. Even though I truly believe they are beneficial, the conversation is likely to be awkward, emotionally tiring, and sometimes frustrating.

So add in some fun after to reconnect. Schedule time after these conversations to release stress and to remind yourself why you’re doing this – for each other. It can help reinforce your love and help energize you both for future conversations. 


Don’t Do It Alone 

No one said you have to do this without help. Pull in some support if you’re unsure how to approach the conversation or run into roadblocks. Consider: 

  • A mediator or legal professional 
  • A professional therapist (I’d suggest a couples therapist) 
  • A trusted religious leader 

The third-party person should be a neutral party who is trusted and agreed upon by both partners. That may include others that aren’t listed above! 

In Conclusion

Approaching a discussion about a prenup is probably not the most romantic or comfortable thing to do, but it will pave the path for you both to have a healthy and secure marriage. By taking the time and effort to have open and honest conversations with each other, you are ensuring that you both will start this new chapter in your lives secure and aligned. Whether you plan a fun date night after the prenup convo, gamify it, or utilize a therapist, there’s more than one way to approach this topic. Congrats and the engagement, and happy prenup planning! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Approaching the Prenup Conversation

Still have questions–we’ve got answers. See below for some FAQs about approaching the prenup convo.


Q: Is it normal to feel uncomfortable discussing a prenup? 

A: Absolutely! It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable and uneasy when talking about sensitive topics, especially in a period of your life that is also full of hope and excitement. The key is to feel all the feelings and still have the needed conversations. 


Q: How do I know if a prenup is right for us? 

A: This is a personal question – it depends on you and your partner’s circumstances and values. Do your research before making any decisions. Identify and prioritize your and your partner’s needs. Even better, do this research together as a couple! 


Q: Can a prenup hurt our relationship? 

A: If both partners approach the conversation and process with respect, empathy, and honesty, it is unlikely a prenup will hurt your marriage. It’s likely to help you continue to have healthy, frank discussions that help you make decisions together.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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