Maybe all your friends have prenups, maybe they are a rite of passage in your family, maybe you discussed a prenup on your first date with your future spouse. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that prenups are an awkward and at the very least, slightly uncomfortable topic for most engaged couples.
Prenuptial agreements tend to be viewed as a negative thing – which could lead some engaged partners to feel concerned about their future spouse’s sense of commitment to longevity in the relationship.
In reality, a prenup is a legally binding agreement that can protect everyone involved. Not just the wealthier party.
We know, we know. Prenups aren’t particularly romantic, but then again neither is paying your rent, filing your taxes or getting life insurance. But you probably do it, because you know that doing so is an important part of being a responsible adult. So is financial and life planning, and that is where a prenup comes in.
If talking about a prenuptial agreement feels like it could be relationship suicide, you need to take a step back and begin to analyze why.
It’s exactly this sort of taboo, off-limits conversation that may end up trapping you in all kinds of situations.
In other words, if you don’t speak your mind now, you could pay for it tenfold later.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom, and by using the tips outlined below, you can learn to navigate any potential storms. No matter whether your partner takes offense or not (and you will generally be able to anticipate their reaction) you can steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go. Thinking ahead is always a smart move, and at the end of the day you will be able to assess your partner’s comfort level by bringing up the idea of a prenup.
That being said, many times it isn’t about what you say, but how you say it.
Often, all that is needed to broach a sensitive topic is a little bit of foresight and empathy. While a negative reaction to the mere thought of divorce is only natural, a prenuptial agreement is simply a precautionary and financial planning measure.
1. Speak Up Sooner Rather than Later
It’s worth mentioning that the sooner you bring up your thoughts about a prenup, the better. If you’re counting down the days until your wedding, the time to act is now. Due to the delicate nature of the topic, your partner may need time to come to terms with the idea.
Over and above the time needed for emotional processing, the actual exercise of creating a prenuptial agreement can drag on for months. Although technically a prenup can be drawn up in under an hour (using HelloPrenup!), if you and your partner disagree about a lot it can take significantly longer.
It is recommended to bring up a prenuptial agreement 3 to 6 months before your wedding date in order to allow time for finalizing all of the details. Bear in mind that if necessary you can always opt for a postnuptial agreement instead.
However, this should be reserved for emergency situations in which prenups are still being finalized during and after the wedding date. The last thing you should (intentionally) do is wait until after marriage to broach the topic, which might lead your partner to feel tricked and betrayed. That is certainly not how you want to start your married life together!
2. Timing is Everything
Relationship gurus often recommend bringing up sensitive issues during post coital pillow talk, but when it comes to initiating a heavy conversation, the best moment will vary from person to person. At the end of the day, the perfect time for bringing up a prenup is when your partner is feeling relaxed.
It is far easier to apply reason and logic when someone is calm than when they are agitated. If you want your partner to be open to what you have to say, you need to approach them when they are in a receptive mood.
By this stage you can likely sense your partner’s vibes, and you might even be aware of when they are typically most relaxed. Use this knowledge to your advantage, and time your discussion accordingly.
Remember to leave time for a very long conversation to take place directly after you broach the topic. Ideally, there will be no one else around, and the two of you will have an evening or weekend to explore the subject in depth.
Okay… I’m still scared. How do I bring up a prenup with my partner?
3. Be Honest
Rule #1… don’t wait until the last minute to raise the idea of a prenuptial agreement. Just don’t.
So, how do you begin the conversation? When it comes to relationships, honesty is the best policy. If you are afraid of divorce, find the courage to say so. If you were a child of divorce and this has affected how you view marriage, say so. There is nothing wrong with opening up to your partner about abandonment issues, or the fear that somewhere down the line your lover may leave you.
Make sure you are clear on what your reasons for wanting a prenup are, and choose to be vulnerable with your partner. You should be able to feel safe bringing up emotional topics with your partner from time to time, while keeping in mind that how you broach the subject is key.
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4. Talk About Financial Goals
Another way of easing into the prenup conversation is by raising the topic of financial goals. Whether you’re a young couple or entering into a second marriage, finances are going to play a major role in your future relationship.
It is important to know whether your partner has any debt and to be transparent about your earnings. It’s a good idea to have a discussion not only about how much money you make or have, but about how you spend your cash on a daily basis. What is your concept of saving vs spending?
Before raising prenup, consider broaching other topics like how to save for retirement, how to fund emergency savings and what would happen to any future inheritances. Remember that even if you both have very little now, things could always change.
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5. Talk Facts
About half of marriages end in divorce. Fact.
Money is a leading cause of divorce. Fact.
A prenuptial agreement will facilitate conversations about money. Fact.
Many attorneys believe that prenups are just as much an emotional document as they are a legal one. Still, depending on your partner’s preferred communication style, it may be helpful to keep the conversation focused on the proven reasons why a prenup makes sense.
6. Highlight the Positives
Begin exploring what is included in a prenup, and discuss with your partner. Some topics to discuss for inclusion in your prenup include:
- Expected inheritances
If you are in debt, be sure to discuss how a prenup would protect your partner from those debts. Also point out that well-drafted prenups serve to benefit the partner who earns less in a number of ways.
Do you own a business? It is also wise to consider the possibility of unexpected financial success. This is especially relevant for younger couples, who are only just in the early stages of figuring out their career. You don’t have to have this conversation in the context of divorce. Rather, talk about business ownership and career in the context of protecting any other people involved- like employees!
Is this a second marriage? If your partner has children from a previous marriage, they might be interested to learn that a prenup protects those children, too.
What happens when you sign a prenup?
7. Make It A Collaborative Prenup
Steer clear of a power play or one-sided agreement by not making this a true conversation. Presenting your partner with your idea of what a great prenup would be without asking any questions, or being open to a true discussion will make this feel one sided for your partner. Instead, try to come to a deep understanding of your partner’s priorities and #lifegoals.
An attorney can help your partner and you to each understand responsibilities and rights, so that you can reach a reasonable and fair agreement. If you would like legal advice, you should contact an attorney to discuss the ramifications of the terms of your prenuptial agreement.