Anonymously submitted by: “Prenup Dude”
Let me take you back to my life a few years ago.
I’m about to ask the question.
She knows its coming though – we’ve been together for almost four years and looking at rings together for almost two years (I know, I know, sounds too long) and we can’t stop talking about our future’s together.
My girlfriend and I met online (and to be honest, I’m shocked she swiped yes).
She’s got it all – a full-time career, has paid off most of her student debt herself, and has shown no signs of slowing down in terms of climbing the corporate ladder.
On top of that, she comes from a very “well off” family who will leave her an inheritance that will cover our kids’ kids futures.
The issue? She asked me the question first.
No, not THAT question.
She asked me for a prenup.
I know. She’s smart.
I don’t have a career that I’ve developed, I’m not set to flourish off of some inheritance, and I have significantly more student debt than she does. Because she has none and mine hovers around $200k.
And to be honest? I’m pretty insulted that she’s asked the question – even though I totally understand why. I guess I should have seen this coming?
My knee jerk reaction was to run for the hills and change my name (and reactivate my online profile).
But my gut told me, “this is why you want to marry her.”
So I decided to get that ring, ask that question (spoiler alert, she said yes), and start getting comfortable with this prenup thing.
No, not because of her wealth, but because I knew this was the woman I wanted to spend my life with, and she has every right to want to protect herself financially (in the event that we just don’t work out). Well, tbh it seems more like her family is protecting themselves, but that’s neither here nor there.
After many countless uncomfortable conversations, a few different emotions, and a document later, we signed a prenup – and it was the best thing we ever did for our marriage.
Money became easier to talk about
What I really wanted to name this section of this post was “During the prenup process we had to talk about money all. the. time. And it was tough – but it got easier.”
There were a lot of f-words. Like finances, fiduciary, financial freedom (2-pointer), financial planner and of course that other f-word – fairness (get your mind out of the gutter).
We had to talk about all of our accounts, all of our bills, all of our combined income, and what we wanted to do with all of it – with each of our lawyers, with each other, over and over again.
We decided she wanted to keep everything separate – our bank accounts, any financial “gifts” she received, retirement accounts – you name it, hers was hers and mine was mine. I would be lying if I said her parents were not a major part of this conversation. Because they were.
As California natives, we live in a community property state, which means that all assets acquired during the marriage are subject to division 50/50, but assets acquired before the marriage stay separate.
The caveat to this is that if we have separate property that appreciates during the marriage (as all property does, whether its physical or investments), then that appreciation is usually considered community property and subject to 50/50 division.
For her, this was a problem. She had ESPP accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and inheritance via a trust that she receives disbursements from. She knew that these would appreciate (or should) during our marriage, so she wanted to protect her appreciation as separate property (so that she wouldn’t lose out financially in the event of separation or divorce).
For me, this wasn’t a “problem.” It just shot my ego a tad cause I felt like this is against the grain of marriage (and it’s hard to build a life for “us” when you use a lot of words like “mine, I, and myself”).
After pushing through a few hard conversations up front though, my wife and have been able to walk through financial conversations easier. Sure, it’s still tough sometimes, mostly because I know that her parents wanted this, and we have been through a lot a therapy to discuss this. But overall, we’ve been able to push through financial conversations without walking away drained and exhausted.
Are we perfect at it post-prenup? No. But I know for a fact that because we had to walk through financial conversations early during our engagement, we are now able to comfortably talk about things (like shared bills, who’s going to pay for dinner tonight, or should we merge Amazon prime accounts), without having to feel really awkward about it.
Divorce is getting more expensive – especially for women
As the saying “birds of a feather flock together,” my wife and her flock regularly reminded me that arguably, women have more reasons to hate divorce than men do. Here’s why.
- Women are increasingly making more money prior to marriage
- More women are paying alimony (against the traditional version of men paying women)
- More women value financial freedom (again, those damn f-words)
In our case (and increasingly more cases), it’s pretty obvious that if my wife and I stay on this financial trajectory, and we decided to get a divorce, she will have to pay me- some of that payment being alimony- and to her that just didn’t sound that exciting (for obvious reasons).
I also began thinking about the expenses of a divorce and found out that that the average divorce costs $15,000… per couple. Speaking for all those in California and having paid a lawyer myself, that number sounds conservative to me.
With my somewhat modest lifestyle, I began to take this whole prenup thing much more seriously, as I was not trying to enter into a contract that I would inevitably have to buy out of (and realized that the only winners would be our divorce lawyers).
After doing my own research though, I realized that for a woman, prenups can arguably protect women more than men these days, as women are making more money and have a lot more to lose than previous generations.
I really didn’t have a rebuttal for “the flock’s” argument, so I got on board with supporting my wife’s peace of mind (we are getting married, so we don’t plan on divorcing, so none of this matters anyways… right?)
Happy wife – happy life – happy kids – ish
I realized quickly that this prenup wasn’t actually negotiable – but the terms were. Ultimately, I didn’t have to go through with the marriage, but, ya know, I wanted to.
See, my wife and I are millennials, and both of our parents have been divorced (at least once). We have seen first hand what it is like to grow up in two households (that originated as one), gain step parents, step siblings, and even the bubbling trauma that comes from that much later in life as an adult.
Upon my research into prenups, I realized just how devastating divorce is for kids (from the clinical research and our own upbringings) and kids are something my wife and I are excited about having.
As we started talking about the f-words, we realized that this was a great Segway into what we want for our future kids as well.
>> How will we split childcare expenses?
>> Will one of us stay home to take care of the kids? (And will it be me because I make less money than her? I wouldn’t mind being a stay at home dad to be honest….)
>> How will we split bills if one of us isn’t working due to being the primary source of childcare?
This made me realize the domino effect of happy wife, happy life, and most importantly, our happy kids.
I knew that talking through all of these tough topics with our greater good in mind (and not just ourselves) made me realize that we can all come out of this as winners and start our family off on the right foot.
Fast forward to the present day à After being married for almost five years, we have two really awesome sons, I realized that this prenup was extremely helpful in hashing out tough conversations early for us as parents (and not just spouses) so that when it was time to discuss other topics like “is it ok for a 2 year old to have ice cream?” We could handle it with ease (ish).
Your ego will be ok
I know. Sometimes it’s hard feeling like you’re not “the provider” of the family, and this whole prenup talk really stabs that feeling over and over.
But let me tell you this: Your ego will be ok, and you’ll come out of this stronger with her (so just trust yourself and go with it).
Did I want to make my soon to be wife happy and just say yes to everything? Sure.
Did I want to run from the hills a few times cause this conversation wasn’t all that sexy? Absolutely.
Did I get an opportunity to discuss anything that I wanted to? Most definitely.
But best of all, this prenup goes on a shelf, untouched, unless it has to be. No one needs to know about this prenup except for you two (and maybe your attorney if you decided to hire one).
So yeah, our prenup “adventure” as I would like to refer to it, was worth it for multiple reasons. But arguably, it was worth it since we never have to worry about what might happen in the event of x, y, or z. We get to rest assured that no matter what happens, we’re both covered, our kids will be covered, and we’re starting off on the right foot.
Bite the bullet. Put your ego aside, and roll with the punches, because at the end of the day, this prenup boot camp made us much stronger as a couple (and we all have some serious peace of mind).
Prenup dude #88826427
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].