Not every couple will agree on every single thing perfectly. If you do, let us know your secret sauce so we can replicate it. In all seriousness, any good relationship will have disagreements. I mean, c’mon, you’re with this person 24/7; how could you not? A little healthy debate over your prenup is also welcomed. In fact, without it, you wouldn’t be able to create a fair and balanced prenup. However, there is a point where disagreeing about prenup terms can become problematic. While we don’t know exactly what you disagree with, we can give you some tips and tricks to help you come to terms with your partner.
Tip #1: Explain your position clearly
We all know that communication is key to a successful marriage (among other things like trust, love, etc.). If you or your partner aren’t clarifying your needs in the prenup in a succinct way, things can become messy. Our first tip when you disagree with your partner’s prenup terms is to re-communicate each of your desires and do so clearly. But how, you ask? Well, there are probably a million ways to do it, but our suggestion is to write down your basic goals for the prenup. For example, let’s say the main goal you had for your prenup was to protect your inheritance and your business. What are your partner’s goals? Maybe they simply want to protect a piece of real estate. When you bring it back to the principles, it can be easier to navigate.
Drive the conversation with those goals. Spouse A: “I want to protect X.” Spouse B: “I want to protect Y.” Now, how can you bridge the gap so both people can reach those goals? That’s the heavy lifting you’ll need to do here.
Another word to the wise is to make sure you have this re-communication session at a good time. It’s probably not the best time to bring this up after a big blowout fight or after a couple of bottles of wine. Headspace matters, and be cognitive of what your partner is dealing with when you bring this conversation up again.
Tip #2: Listen and digest your partner’s side of things (actually listen)
A huge part of successful communication is listening. And we don’t just mean waiting for your turn to talk. This goes both ways: your partner should afford you the same courtesy. Listening to understand is crucial to coming to an agreement. You might disagree with your partner on the surface level, but dig deeper. Why do they want this? Where are they coming from? How does it make them feel? Listening to understand can help you potentially change your mind, or it could help you to explain your side better.
For example, let’s say your partner really wants to keep alimony on the table, but you want to waive it. Your mind is made up. You think it’s absurd for you to have to pay them money after the marriage ends. End of story. But this is where you need to pause and listen to your partner. What you may not know is that your partner feels like they don’t have a voice in the relationship as the party with less money. Or maybe they want to stay at home with the kids one day and forgo a career. Or maybe they have a deep seeded insecurity on this topic based on some personal experiences. You just never know. Get to the root of the issue and build your way back up from there.
Tip #3: Pinpoint the exact discrepancies and discuss
Sometimes disagreements over terms in a prenup can be resolved by getting organized. What we mean by this is, write down on a piece of paper (or if you’re using HelloPrenup, just pull up the negotiation phase in the platform) and look at the discrepancies side by side. Getting a visual of all of the things (or maybe just one thing) that you are in disagreement over can help you truly digest. Rather than going back and forth for hours and jumping from topic to topic, you two can see it on paper and understand exactly what you need to work out. You may be able to come to terms faster.
With HelloPrenup, there is an entire section in the platform dedicated to negotiations. In this section, you can see a side-by-side view of any discrepancies in answers. For example, let’s say Spouse A wants a $100,000 life insurance death benefit, and Spouse B wants a $10,000 life insurance death benefit. You will see the life insurance death benefit amount as a discrepancy. Before you can move forward to finalize your prenup, you’ll need to come to an agreement on every clause. This helps HelloPrenup customers get organized and pinpoint exactly what the issue is, so they can efficiently work it out.
Tip #4: Turn to resources and educate yourself (and your partner)
Maybe you’re at a standstill with your partner, and you’re not sure where to turn. One thing you can do is educate yourself and your partner on the topic at issue. Knowledge is power. If you and your partner learn more about the issue, you may end up changing your stance on it.
For example, let’s say you two are battling it out over infidelity clauses. One of you wants to include an infidelity clause, and the other does not. You turn to some HelloPrenup resources and learn that infidelity clauses are frequently thrown out by courts. So it may be a moot point! Especially if you live in California because Cali courts will almost certainly throw it out. Boom. Problem solved. You can skip over the infidelity clause issue, knowing that it probably won’t be valid in court anyway.
Tip #5: Compromise is your friend
Sometimes, it just comes down to compromise. If none of the above tips have worked, you or your partner may need to budge on some terms. Compromise doesn’t mean you lose. It means maybe you give in on one issue but gain something else on a different issue.
For example, let’s say you and your partner are both headstrong on the topic of alimony: your partner wants to waive it, and you want to keep it. In that case, you might say, “fine, you can waive alimony, but in place of that, I would like to have a lump sum payment in the event of divorce.” This can be a win-win for some people, as they won’t have to pay alimony, and the person who wants alimony still gets a lump sum payment out of the deal.
Tip #6: Seek out third-party advice
If nothing is working, and you can’t come to a compromise, you may want to turn to some third-party advice. You can keep this casual or get professional; it’s up to you. If you want to keep it casual, you might consider consulting with a friend or family member who has had a prenup or gotten a divorce. They may be able to shed light on your situation by sharing anecdotal experiences. Not to mention, it never hurts to get your thoughts out to a disinterested party to help clear your head.
If you’re not one to share personal info with friends and family, we get it. You can also turn to a professional, like a counselor or a lawyer. If you want to go the counselor route, you can book a couples therapy session to discuss the issue. They can help guide you through communication tactics and work out any underlying personal or relationship issues.
If you’re not a fan of counseling, you can always turn to a legal professional. While family law attorneys are not therapists, they deal with married and divorced couples every day. Attorneys can give you advice and suggestions and even let you know what the majority of people in your position might do. Hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth may help you and your partner come to terms. They’ve seen the best and the worst of it, so you can be reassured by their opinions.
Tip #7: If all else fails, think about other options
If going to a third party doesn’t help you, you have one of two options: (1) Don’t get a prenup and run the risk of losing assets or acquiring your partner’s debt in the event of a divorce, or (2) Call off the marriage. These options may seem bleak, but if you can’t come to an agreement on your prenup terms, there’s not much else you can do. You should definitely not sign a prenup you don’t agree with. Signing a prenup that you don’t agree with could land it in the trash can for various different reasons. That would mean you wasted time and money on a prenup that wasn’t valid in the first place.
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]