We like to call prenups “premarital planning tools” because they are just that– a tool for you and your soon-to-be spouse to plan out your life. Prenups (or premarital planning tools) do wonders for a marriage. They are emotional documents and they strengthen trust and communication. On top of that, there are plenty of real-life success stories that show prenups can (and do) facilitate long-lasting marriages (we have proof below). We delve into all of these notions, so keep reading to learn how prenups are a marriage’s best friend!
Prenups are premarital planning tools
In our humble opinion, prenuptial agreements might be better termed as “premarital planning tools,” as they serve to establish a strong foundation for a lifelong marriage. Within the prenup process, couples engage in four pursuits: financial planning, safeguarding assets and managing debts, addressing conflict resolution, and determining asset distribution in the event of either spouse’s passing.
Did you know you can include budgets in your prenup? Yes, you can include what you, as a couple, will spend, save, and invest in your prenup. This can help lay down financial boundaries for one another and make sure you both are aligned on how you want to treat marital and separate finances.
Asset protection / Debt management
The main purpose of a prenup is to protect your assets and protect you from absorbing your partner’s debt. You two can plan out who owns what, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, mortgages, student loans, and more.
Guess what? You already have a prenup according to state law. That’s right, the state decides what happens to your marriage in the event of a divorce. With a prenup, you can make your own rules by creating your own path for conflict resolution. For example, you can add a clause called “alternative dispute resolution” that requires mediation before going to a court for a divorce. Mediation is a cheaper, faster, and more friendly way to get a divorce. Without a prenup, you may be subject to the more harsh rules that your state lays out for you.
Asset distribution upon death
Most people wrongly assume prenups only talk about divorce, but they can also address what happens when someone dies. Disclaimer: the best way to disperse your assets is through an estate plan, but a prenup is an awesome way to supplement that. For example, in a prenup, you and your partner can waive your rights to each other’s estate in the event of death. This may be especially useful for someone who has children from a previous marriage and wants their kids to get all of their belongings.
Prenups are emotional documents
Prenups are emotional documents just as much as they are legal/financial documents. Don’t believe us? Let us explain…
Prenups set personal and financial boundaries to prevent conflict
When you sign a prenup together, you are creating clear expectations of one another for the marriage. By setting these hard-line boundaries, each partner has a clear expectation from the other on what to expect during the marriage. This can help facilitate a long-lasting marriage by reducing the possibility of conflict! For example, you can add a clause that lays out budgets for spending and saving. This can save many couples from future financial arguments by having the expectations written out and agreed to.
Prenups demonstrate respect for each other
Prenups are a way to show respect for each other’s autonomy. Let’s face it: we’re all individual people and we all have different needs and wants, no matter how in love we are. The act of creating a prenup acknowledges that notion and allows each person to have a level of financial security. Also, in some states, you may be able to incorporate “no-cheating” clauses into prenups, stipulating that neither partner will participate in extramarital affairs, and if they do, there are financial consequences involved. This certainly serves as a robust expression of mutual respect!
Prenups plan out your life together
Prenups can include clauses that say how you two will spend your finances during your marriage, how you will save, and how you will invest. This can facilitate a plan for retirement, buying a house, starting a business, etc. Also, during the prenup process, it’s wise to discuss whether or not you want to have children in the marriage, as this can alter what clauses you choose to include (for example, if one person will be a stay-at-home parent or not).
Strengthening trust and communication
The prenup process itself is a way to strengthen trust and communication in the relationship. The prenup process requires joint financial planning, honesty about finances, and healthy negotiation.
Creating a shared future vision together (a.k.a. Financial planning)
Do you want to retire when you’re 50? Maybe you want to start a business. Or maybe you have plans to have children and one of you stays home with the kids. These are just a few of the important topics you’ll be delving into with your partner as you craft your prenuptial agreement. Together, you have the opportunity to mold a shared vision for your future, turning it into a source of mutual eager anticipation.
Honesty about finances
Let’s face it: it’s awkward to talk about money with your loved ones. It can be a daunting conversation to have. In today’s society, there’s often a reluctance to broach the subjects of income, net worth, and debt. However, these discussions are undeniably vital when considering the union of two individuals in marriage. Sharing information about your finances is a fundamental aspect of the prenup process, commonly referred to as financial disclosure. Sharing this intimate financial information strengthens the trust and communication within the relationship.
Don’t worry–negotiations aren’t scary, we promise! In fact, they’re vital to creating a fair prenup. Negotiating should be called “open communicating and compromise” because it’s simply a way for both spouses to say what they want and compromise a little bit. When each person compromises, it builds trust within the couple because it shows that there is a mutual respect for each other’s wishes.
Real-life prenup success stories that have cultivated lasting marriages
If you associate prenups with divorce, it’s time for a fresh perspective! Prenups are all about fostering enduring relationships. Skeptical? Let’s dive into the world of celebrities, where breakups are even more common. Yet, these couples embraced prenups, and their relationships have proven to be steadfast, a rarity in the glamorous realm of Hollywood!
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas (22 year long marriage and counting)
Catherine and Michael have shared their lives for an impressive 22 years, which is equivalent to a century in Hollywood time (so we’ve heard). This uber-famous couple entered into a prenup back in the year 2000 when Y2K was a thing and they’re still going strong in 2023.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (20 year long marriage and counting)
Next on our list are Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who have celebrated over two decades together. Their agreement includes some unique clauses, such as a requirement for at least one weekly date, totaling a minimum of 100 minutes of quality alone time, away from their home and workplace. While unconventional, it is truly a commitment to keeping their connection strong!
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (16 year long marriage and counting)
Keith and Nicole, have made it about 16 years together, and, yes, they too have a prenuptial agreement. In their case, the prenup outlines how their finances should be separated and Keith’s promise to sobriety. Thankfully, their marriage remains strong, and Keith has stayed on the straight and narrow. (Maybe in part thanks to their prenup?)
It’s evident that prenuptial agreements can indeed play a role in setting clear expectations, forming financial goals, and ultimately fostering long lasting marriages!
The bottom line is that prenups help marriages, not hurt them
Let’s get rid of the outdated notion that prenups are detrimental to marriages. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! Prenups should be called a “premarital planning tool” because they serve as a means to chart your future alongside your partner. What’s more, prenups are not just legal/financial documents, but emotional documents that contribute to the strengthening of trust and communication within a marriage. Take a page from some of the celebs above–prenups = a flourishing marriage!
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]