If you’re engaged, you have high expectations for a long and happy marriage. It’s an exciting time, full with hope for new beginnings and beautiful life together. However, you, love bird, also pragmatic, and you recognize that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and that given those odds you want to protect yourself as much as possible if your relationship does not work out. And even if it does (and we know it will!) you want to make sure you are clear on who owns what in terms of assets, and who owes what in terms of debt. A prenuptial agreement can assist, but you might be worried that recommending one will enrage or upset your soon-to-be spouse, who might believe you aren’t “all in” or already planning for divorce.
If you are in this situation right now, and you are not alone, you might be wondering how to tell your fiancé that you want a prenuptial agreement. Let’s dig in. But first, want to know how to plan your wedding and marriage at the same time? Check out this blog.
Why Is It Difficult to Talk About a Prenup?
Marriage is viewed by many as the ultimate commitment. Your future spouse is pledging to put their all into the marriage and expects you to do the same. If you recommend a prenup to your fiancé, he or she may believe you’re giving up the dream of ‘forever’ before the wedding has even begun, or that signing this arrangement will ultimately spell doom for your marriage. Despite popular belief that a prenup is planning for failure, a prenuptial agreement can really improve your marriage.
Related: What you should know before signing a prenuptial agreement
Financial discussions between engaged couples can be difficult as well. It’s not uncommon for the financial situation of each partner to go unmentioned before a wedding. Finances are not romantic, and so couples avoid these discussions. There are numerous examples of people driving beautiful cars and living in mansions only to discover after the marriage that they married into a mountain of debt since their flamboyant current spouse was living well beyond their means and thought everything was OK. Make sure you are on the same page before you get married.
Your fiancé may have ingrained financial habits and feelings about those habits, such as how to save and spend. Walking into a marriage without knowing what the other person’s credit score is could prevent you from buying a car or a house if their credit is much worse than you imagined. The same goes for income, assets and debt. Your fiancé may be hesitant to inquire about your financial situation for fear of coming out as superficial, and since “that’s not what love is about.” They may be afraid that you will condemn them for not managing their finances as well as you do, therefore they will be hesitant to discuss their assets and debt freely and honestly.
The major reason it’s difficult to talk about your prenup is because it goes against everything we’ve been taught about true love. True love is supposed to sweep you off your feet, and anything is possible when you’re in love. This article will not go into what it takes for a marriage to succeed and how those romantic ideals almost always lead to the ultimate breakup, yet love has a seductive undertone. Love is a romantic sentiment. That feeling is what leads to marriage. A prenuptial agreement can feel quite the opposite. A prenuptial agreement makes people feel like a marriage is a business deal, and no one wants to feel like that as they prepare to walk down the aisle. Nobody. Not even those who seek a prenuptial agreement. The reality that people often ignore, however, is that marriage *IS* in many ways a business deal.
How to Make Talking About a Prenuptial Agreement Less Difficult
There are three primary factors that contribute to a successful marriage: (1) communication; (2) commitment; and (3) trust.
A promise is made. Trust has to be earned. It takes effort to communicate.
And, regrettably, the majority of divorce begin with a breakdown in communication (which includes both talking and listening!). Not only is it important to talk about problems, but it’s also important to see how successfully you and your partner work through them. If someone gets angry and simply shuts the other person out, that’s one of those things you’d rather find out about before you say “I do” than after.”
Should you be upset about a prenup? The conversation about having a prenuptial agreement can be summed up as ensuring that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to critical financial decisions and information that will arise during your marriage. Prenuptial agreements present a good way to plan your finances. While presenting a prenuptial agreement can be difficult, it can also be done favorably. There are various ways to talk about a prenup without hurting your relationship or your partner.
Put yourself in the shoes of your fiancé.
When discussing the prenuptial agreement, try to see things from your fiancé’s point of view, especially if your income, assets, and debts are significantly different. Understanding their financial problems and issues may enable you to discuss a prenuptial agreement in a way that is sensitive to their situation and does not cause them to be overly concerned about their future. For example- if you are a millionaire, and your fiance is largely in student debt, a prenup may feel really intimidating to them. Really put yourself in their shoes, and doing so will allow you to approach the conversation from a place of understanding.
Focus on the Positives
Focusing on the positives will help you feel less like a prenup is an adversarial process. If your fiancé realizes that it will benefit both of you, he or she may be less fearful of the process.
A prenuptial agreement, for example, can provide a structure for dividing assets and obligations in the event of a divorce. Regardless of which partner is in a stronger financial position, understanding what you can expect to receive and be responsible for if you separate can be beneficial to both of you. A prenup can also protect the less wealthy spouse by allowing them to receive a portion of assets that they would not usually otherwise receive under state divorce law. This sounds counterintuitive, but can be a way to even the playing field in a marriage where the spouses have opposite financial situations.
If the marriage does not work out, premarital agreements might provide much-needed emotional stability. With fewer things to fight about in an already difficult situation, both parties can concentrate on mending and moving on with their lives.
Furthermore, even if your marriage does not end in divorce, you will both know that you reinforced it by successfully discussing sensitive themes and having challenging conversations early on in your relationship.
Prenuptial agreements can also highlight the differences in what happens to your assets if your marriage ends because one of you dies. It’s a dreadful concept, but no one lives forever, therefore it will ultimately happen. If a divorce is not underway at the time of death, terms in the contract can be drafted to provide further protection for the surviving spouse.
Timing is everything in life, and in prenups.
It’s never a good idea to bring up the subject of a prenup with your future spouse during a “heated discussion” about your money. When it comes to proposing a topic, being deliberate about when you do it can go a long way toward a fruitful discussion. Plan ahead of time and choose a moment when both of you will be in a good mood and have plenty of time to talk about it.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].