The rules of engagement

At a recent “girls night” some friends and I were talking about relationships (surprise, surprise).  Over the course of the conversation we talked about marriage then we got to talking about divorce and someone brought up the topic of prenuptual agreements.  And that’s when the conversation got interesting. 

My friends are a pretty diverse group.  Some are married, some are divorced, some of their parents are divorced while others have been together for close to 50 years.  I have a few friends who you could say play very traditional roles in their families.  They’re the primary caretakers of their children, they do the cooking, the cleaning while their husbands handle more of the financials.  I have a few others whose roles are a bit more contemporary.  They work, their husbands work and they split responsibility for everything else.  You’d think based on this that you could make some assumptions on their stances on prenups.  Not so.

At one point someone asked me how I’d have felt about signing a prenup.  Well, first of all, my husband and I did have a prenuptual agreement.  He said the only way out of the marriage was in a pine box, and I agreed.  I’m sure he was kidding.  But my point is, we agreed to go into the marriage with nothing but positivity about where our lives were heading.  To me, having a prenup is pretty much planning for the demise of the relationship.  If you’ve read The Secret or The Power of Positive Thinking you know that a prenup would basically be saying to the Universe, “I’m betting this marriage doesn’t last.”  And that’s step one down a bad path.  But that’s just me.

I definitely understand the reasons why people have prenups.  With such high divorce rates and lots at stake financially I can see why some would want assurances of where they’d stand should the relationship deteriorate.  One friend brought up an example of a man whose ex-wife is now the proud owner of half of his business post-divorce.  The reason they got divorced is the wife had at least two illicit relationships during their marriage.  But because MA is a no-fault state, the reasons why you get divorced or whose fault it is have no bearing on the distribution of assets.   To me, that doesn’t seem fair.  Maybe a prenup would have helped in that case.  The kind I have would definitely.

In my humble opinion, if a marriage ends, you should leave with whatever you had going into it.  Now I know things get complicated when you start to look at things you acquired together or when you try to assess if one person would have been able to be as successful at building a business, for example, were it not for the support of the other person.  They get even more complicated when you look at the sometimes ugly reasons why people split up.  You could say I’m naive, but I think people know what they really deserve when their marriages fall apart.  A woman who cheats probably knows in her heart she doesn’t deserve half of her husband’s assets and vice versa. 

My advice for what it’s worth – if you think you need a prenup, don’t get married. 

What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “The rules of engagement

  1. I believe that an individual’s assets, including debt, should be talked about before marriage and put into writing what each partner started with, in case, it ends in a divorce. Obviously, wealth and debt accumulated over the time of the marriage is considered a joint venture…So do I believe in prenups…Absolutely, especially, if there is a lot of money at stake, before they entered into marriage…

  2. I agree with Michelle. If I had could go back in time I would definetly have a pre-nup because if I have learned anything in life is that “there are givers and takers”. If the person you are marrying is upset about signing a pre-nup…then don’t marry them

  3. Mon – I think you have the best pre-nup I’ve ever heard. However, you could spin the whole “I’m betting this marriage doesn’t last” idea around and argue the exact opposite. As in, I’m so sure this relationship and marriage is solid I’ll sign any document you want to put in front of me. I don’t have one and personally would have a hard time agreeing to one, but that being said, I don’t necessarily think they indicate gloom and doom for relationships.

  4. Well, Monica, in relationships, that sometimes start very early on in age and both partners work for years before marrying, so that one can stay at home and raise the children and have a home set up before marriage, you wouldn’t really think of a pre-nup. After 28 years in a relationship with one person and 15 of them legally married it would not be a consideration because so much before the wedding was obtained together as a goal towards the married life. Then after, the spouse that has the children at home doesn’t have a paycheck but is certainly earning their fair share in contributing to the marriage and its development. I never would have thought my marriage would end nor would either of us had any reason to have a pre-nup.
    So there would be a perfect case that you can’t say a pre-nup would work or that any MA state law would matter, too much time and joint assets, experiences situations and LIFE has occurred to say who’s was who’s and too many years have gone buy for it to even be considered accurate.

  5. I happened to be doing some work-related research in Google today and discovered this web site. I must confess that I’ve gotten a little distracted going through and reading some of your articles… I should probably be doing work. Impressive stuff here and I’m going to be back again in the future to read more. Cheers!

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