The thing about marriages is, as Louis CK reminds us, no happy marriage ends in divorce. The problem is that no one except the very morbid thinks about divorce in the giddy thrill of proposal and marriage- you know the statistics, but you assume yours will be different. And that’s why the thought of a prenuptial agreement sounds like you are introducing into your marriage a poison pill, like you are going in with the assumption it won’t last. And while that is understandable, it is also a bit shortsighted. You can sign a prenup without ever assuming you are going to split- and, indeed, it could make a divorce less likely.
It can relieve financial pressure
I am getting married in a month, and my fiance and I had in the past joked about a prenup. I’m a freelancer; she works in environmental research. In other words, our financial assets generally consist of student loan and filched condiment packets. But as things improved, we began to talk about more seriously, even though neither of us could be considered wealthy.
And my thought was- well, look: we aren’t going to get divorced. But say something happens, because you never know what the future could bring. Suppose things are going bad, and for whatever reason one of us isn’t working. That becomes a lot of pressure on that person to find a job, even a miserable one, just to make sure that they aren’t going to be left entirely in the lurch if thing fall apart. And that kind of stress just magnifies the stresses already on a marriage.
But if there has been something signed where both parties will know that they won’t be on the street right away, there is actually more of an ability to be rational, to talk, to remember why you are together in the first place. It actually can lift one of the burdens off the marriage, and lessen the chance of it ending due to temporary stress.
Divorce is hard
But if it isn’t saved, you have one less thing to worry about. As First Wives World reminds us, divorce brings with it questions about yourself. You wonder what you did wrong, how it came to pass that you aren’t the couple you once thought you were. Even if it is for the best that your marriage has ended, it is an emotional swirl.
And, sadly, it can also be a legal battle. All the knives can be out. This isn’t always the case, but it often is, and no matter who you are you care about money, if just because you need it. Having signed a prenup can take away one avenue of fighting. It can make things that much easier.
No Fault, No Worries
There are a lot of different kinds of prenups. Many people get one with an “infidelity clause”, stipulating that in case of straying, a spouse is entitled X amount of dollars. To me, that’s ridiculous: that is a poison pill. It already assumes mistrust, and leaves no room for reconciliation. One that I would sign, and that we are considering, is just that both spouses will be taken care of to the best of their abilities. If I have a job and my wife doesn’t, I’ll make sure she has a place and food, and vice-versa. It sets a floor, so that neither person has to worry. No one will be led dry; no one will be in the cold.
That, to me, helps to engender trust. It’s a sign of our love and mutual concern. And, if things are bad, it also helps remind us that we got into this for a reason. So don’t be afraid of a prenup. Embrace it as a sign that while the future may be uncertain, it is bright now, and you will never try to hurt the other person.