An agreement before marriage is not a bad idea. Here’s why!

This article is one of a series on marriage and finances, another instalment of which can be found here.

Surely we don’t need a prenup!

Had I heard about a prenup prior to my wedding, I would still have flicked it aside as if it were a pesky fly. I might even have laughed with a, “What do I need a prenup for!”

A similar notion holds true for most of us; yet in the villages, towns, and cities of India, people are separating in numbers that we’re slowly beginning to register.

Interest is now rising in prenuptial agreements, those pesky financial contracts of who gets what in case—just in case—of a divorce. Yet the interest is an afterthought and happens after the couple’s already headed for divorce, by which time the couple’s financial resources are so fused together that unravelling them is the devil’s own job.

Yet, we are reluctant to discuss a prenup out of a few mistaken notions. Here are some of them.

That it goes against marital stability

The notion that a prenup goes against the ethos and goal of marriage, mistakes preparedness for the eventuality, that somehow the preparedness makes us behave in a way that invites the eventuality.

We know very well that we do not invite disease (eventuality) by the mere act of buying insurance (preparedness), nor do we live an unhealthy lifestyle (inviting the eventuality) simply because we are insured.

It’s time to separate the two just as courts in the USA have done just under a half century ago.

A study of Norris vs. Norris will tell us that US courts had held, until the 1970s, that any provision which facilitates marital separation is against public policy and hence not enforceable.

In 1970 though, this argument was shot down, following the Florida Supreme Court’s verdict that such agreements are enforceable, and other courts followed suit, discarding the notion that they were contrary to the public policy of promoting marriage stability.

Affects trust in the relationship

When we believe that trust somehow pops into relationships like a full-grown tree, it’s easy to think that the prenup-signing couple is saying, “I can’t trust my future spouse,” and make ourselves believe that they are off to a wrong start.

Affects trust in the relationship
Couple signing prenup

What they are really saying is, “We know that we’re different from each other. We’re trying to understand those differences and work through them.”

That takes openness, respect, and give-and-take—qualities that build trust as much as they help create an equitable prenup.

Related reading: 10 important components of trust in a relationship

Goes against the theory of holy sanctity of marriage

Holy sanctity hasn’t stopped us from measuring the bride and groom’s financial status, nor in demanding the bride’s dowry.

A gentleman who was vehemently against the idea of a prenup stated recently that without doubt, a prenup shouldn’t enter the couple’s relationship. Yet, he also admits that money shouldn’t enter it either.

Yet, we bring money into the picture in most marriages, which means, we are capable of seeing the couple’s practical needs. In this context, holy sanctity simply looks like an acceptance of all that’s age-old and a rejection of all the new things that change the existing dynamics of a man-woman relationship.


Romance Killer
If there’s anything wrong with romance, it is that as it wanes

We do know that romance brings a temporary disruption in our natural instincts, that it’s fleeting, is tinged with chemistry, hormones, and sweeping gestures that disappear with time and the everydayness of life.

If there’s anything wrong with romance, it is that as it wanes, which it inevitably does, its place needs to be taken by trust, respect, tolerance, and a few other things that actually hold a marriage together.

In fact, a prenup discussion can balance the head-in-the-clouds feel of romance with a clear view of the ground.

Related reading: 7 habits of people in the happiest relationships

I don’t need a prenup

Probably, all these are just reasons that we give to support our distaste for prenups. In all probability, the real obstacle could be the unrealistically optimistic view we hold of our future.

In the USA, only 1.5 per cent of marriage license applicants would consider entering into such agreements (prenups), even though nearly half of recent first marriages will end in divorce.

I came across a certain company, which painstakingly went through 500 years of flood data and built their headquarters high enough to beat the worst flood up to five centuries ago and the data wasn’t neatly Google-stored either.

Strange as that might sound, it shows foresight, which is the ability to set feelings and wishful thinking aside for a little while, take a hard look at statistics, and take steps that prepare us for the worst of eventualities.

I can’t discuss finances

I can’t discuss finances
We are clear about our financial goals, yet we worry that we’ll be viewed as money-grubbing

Probably, the most important factor is our complex relationship with money. We are clear about our financial goals, yet we worry that we’ll be viewed as money-grubbing and uncultured if we discuss finances, which forces us to make up other reasons for not discussing a prenup before a wedding.

As regards the people who demand dowry, they carry a strange upper hand in their minds, which rejects the need for a prenup discussion, and that should be a warning signal to the other side.

Let’s not forget that anywhere from 40 to over 50 per cent couples list finances as a strong reason for marital conflict.

Try viewing a prenup as the chance to have an honest talk with your partner about the individual wealth and incomes, financial goals, and how both of you could meet these. And as the means to create joint and individual spaces for both of you, all of which helps you lead a higher quality of life.
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