With Valentine’s Day upon us, it is a great opportunity to discuss the positive effects that prenups can have on a relationship. In my book, Prenups and the Elephant in the Room, I cover the common misconceptions about prenups, and how couples can work together to face these misconceptions. Below is an excerpt from my book which discusses the misconceptions themselves, as well as how couples can use these misconceptions to start the discussion about a prenup.
When it comes to an opinion on prenups, there are fact-based and emotion-based opinions. In this context, emotion-based opinions are understandable and can be addressed in a productive way. The following illustrations address some of the more common misconceptions.
Prenups have existed in one form or another for over 1,000 years as a way of outlining roles and responsibilities in the marriage and providing stability and certainty. There are many examples of this throughout history. The point-counterpoint discussion shows that the reasons for a prenup run deep.
Misconception: Wanting a prenup means that you only care about money.
The word “prenup” may trigger fearful and angry thoughts that money is more important than love: “Why are you planning for a divorce? I thought we loved each other,” “Prenups are not for people like us. They are for celebrities and multimillionaires,” and “Why are we talking about money now?”
Response: Marriage is an economic partnership.
Marriage is a partnership in every way, including finances! Talking about money should not be looked at as a negative aspect of marriage. It should be looked at as a reality of life. It is a healthy way to keep a balanced perspective and create equality in the decision-making process. The goal is to enter the marriage with a full understanding of your situation.
Misconception: My fiancé wants a prenup. He/she must not trust me.
A big reason that it is hard to bring up the subject of a prenup is an assumption that the person requesting the prenup lacks trust. If marriage truly is “until death,” why think about a prenup?
Response: The process can build trust and a foundation for the future.
Discussing a prenup is a great opportunity to proactively think and talk about what will happen to property coming into the marriage as well as property acquired during the marriage. Trust is built by sharing ideas in order to have a better understanding of what will happen with or without a prenup.
Misconception: Prenups just prepare for divorce.
People are sometimes opposed to prenups because they feel that having one implies planning for a divorce. Along the same line, some people tend to think that a prenup is just plain depressing because the focus of the agreement is about the couple breaking up.
Response: Prenups are about planning for the future, regardless of what may come.
Creating a prenup is about creating a road map for your future together. A prenup encourages you and your fiancé to discuss expectations about how the marriage will work and to create a plan for how to handle financial and other issues as your marriage begins.
A failure to communicate about money can lead to feelings of mistrust. Sometimes it is not the distribution of wealth but instead the lack of communication about finances that lead to misunderstanding or feelings of inequality in the relationship. This can happen when the incomes, assets, and/or debts are disproportionate or unknown coming into the marriage or when only one person knows about the assets and debt during the marriage. It can also happen when both parties are secure in their finances but fail to communicate about expectations in the marital relationship. There are many components to a happy and healthy relationship. The point-counterpoint examples address how to work through the misconceptions that can undermine prenup negotiations.
Marriages can thrive in a variety of ways. The process of discussing and potentially having a prenup affords you and your fiancé an opportunity to talk about and evaluate your thoughts and ideas when it comes to decision-making (and other responsibilities). The prenup process can provide a great platform for coming to a compromise and having a better understanding of each other’s philosophies about money and expectations about the marital relationship.
My book, Prenups and the Elephant in the Room: A Handbook for the Prenup Process provides a user-friendly framework for how the process of arriving at a prenup works—from the beginning considerations and conversations to the final product. It is available on Amazon as a paperback book or as an ebook.