Let’s be frank–prenups get a bad rap. If you want a prenup, it must mean that you’re not committed, that you think your future spouse is a gold digger, or that you want to steal your partner’s money. Right? Wrong!
These uncommon situations are falsely stereotyped as being the main motivations behind prenups. But the truth is that actually, prenups have made great strides in popularity, relevance, and accessibility in recent years. Whether or not one or both spouses has significant wealth, everyone marrying today needs a prenup. If you don’t agree with me yet, you will in a few minutes. Here’s why.
Prenups are Romantic and Improve Communication
Yep, you read that right: Prenups are romantic. But before we jump into why prenups are romantic, let’s dispel a few wrong notions about what ‘romance’ is all about. When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Do you think of butterflies in your stomach moving with the ferocity of a mosh pit, or of the breathtaking feeling of falling in love fast and hard with someone you just met, of a mysterious stranger making everything in your life feel special and exciting forever?
These kinds of mental images work fantastically well in Hollywood movies, but not so well in real life. This fairy tale, Hollywood-esque vision of romance is not sustainable. When we expect our relationships to be like that forever, we do ourselves and our partners a disservice. As a divorce attorney, I’ve worked with couples who are divorcing after unrealistic and unmet expectations have led to unhappy, unfulfilled marriages.
That’s because couples who expect their whole relationship to feel like a Hollywood romance often fail to shift comfortably from the honeymoon phase to the happily wed phase. After being married for a long time, romance takes on a new meaning. Long-term, real-life marital romance is less about galloping off into the sunset together and more about cultivating good communication over time.
In order to make it to a decade of marriage, you’re going to have to communicate skillfully about many things that might not seem romantic at first glance–like money, managing your shared assets, and financial planning. That’s where the prenup comes in. It helps couples communicate, plan, and set expectations for important events, like buying a house together, acquiring assets, and paying taxes and bills together.
Drafting a prenup guides you to communicate about uncomfortable topics that you might not have discussed in such detail. Many couples find that through this process, they learn new things about one another’s needs, boundaries, expectations, and dreams when it comes to marriage. Think you already know all that about your partner? Try drafting a prenup. You’ll find some blind spots and get to know each other even more deeply.
These potentially difficult but important conversations are a great way to flex and nourish those communication muscles. Again, the key to a successful marriage is great communication and very very clear expectation setting. A prenup helps you do just that, stacking the odds in favor of the long-term sustainability of your relationship. What’s more romantic than being able to talk about anything, or planning your future together?
The Conditions of Modern-Day Life
Back in the old days when marriage was invented, people got married pretty young. They didn’t really have much time before getting married to do things like make great strides in their careers or acquire assets. Therefore, there was a lot less at stake and less potential for conflict. Nowadays, people are marrying later in life. That means they have more assets, may have student debt or other debt, or may own businesses.
Additionally, people today also live much longer than in the past, and a lot of us will end up having a string of long-term partners rather than just one. Divorce rates are very high. Although no one goes into a marriage expecting to divorce, no one gets into their car expecting to get into a crash–but they still get car insurance, just in case. Contingency planning is always a good idea, even if the risk is minimal.
A Prenup Helps You Decide What Belongs to Who
Yea yea, we know that doesn’t sound romantic–but actually, this too is romantic. Knowing from the get go what’s mine and what’s yours, now and later, can help couples avoid a lot of conflict that could arise during marriage if these things were not decided upon beforehand. Here are some of the assets a prenup can help you separate or combine:
- Debt: What debt is separate and what debt is shared? Just in case you ever divorce, what will happen to debt one or both of you accrue during marriage?-Premarital assets: You’re both bringing assets into the marriage, whether that’s your Mom’s jewelry, savings and investment accounts, or a house. Which assets are marital property and which are separate property?
- Inheritance or monetary gifts: If one of you receives inheritance or monetary gifts during marriage, is that marital or separate property?
If you do ever divorce, you’ll thank yourselves for having sorted out ahead of time what belongs to who. Having done so will save you money, time, energy, and a lot of gray hairs.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but for now, suffice it to say that these are the main reasons I feel that it’s important for every couple to get a prenup. Prenups are romantic and act as a tool for communication and expectation setting, they are practical due to the conditions of the world we live in today, and they help you to decide what’s marital property and what’s separate property. If you’re planning a wedding, don’t skip the prenup. It’s an investment in your relationship and in your shared future.
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