If you’re interested in signing a prenuptial agreement, you might be worried that your partner will take offence to the idea. A prenup is not usually considered romantic, and some even fear it can end a relationship. While it’s a difficult conversation to have with your future spouse, there are ways to discuss a prenup that will open the lines of communication and bring the two of you even closer together.
If done correctly, a prenup can in fact help prevent disagreements later along the line, by clarifying expectations
- Bring it up as early as possible
For a lot of couples, this will be a delicate, uncomfortable conversation, but if it truly is important to you, you owe it to your partner to have this conversation as early as possible. You might even consider bringing the topic up before you’ve gotten engaged. That way, you can gauge your partner’s reaction to the idea of a prenup.
If they react by avoiding the issue completely, then you know that in future, you will need to handle the discussion with extra sensitivity. It will make your partner feel more relaxed and show that you welcome an ongoing conversation. Discussing it before you get engaged will also give your partner time to get used to the idea and consult with an attorney with no pressure to rush.
- Explain the purpose
Assure your partner that the prenup is designed to benefit the both of you – it is not intended to be a one-sided document. While your future spouse may not be entering the marriage with significant separate property s/he has a right to expect reciprocation during the marriage. Your partner may ask for a specific amount of money into a joint account, or retirement account into his/her name. Encourage your partner to clarify their demands and ensure that both your desires are incorporated into the negotiation equally.
- Manage your emotions
It is important to share your feelings when explaining to your partner why you want a prenup. You should share the reasons and fears of why you want to ask for this contract. Explain in detail, rather than saying things like, “I’m scared,” leaving it at that.
This is already a difficult topic to tackle, so make sure not to lose your temper. If your partner refuses outright, do not tell them that they’re being unreasonable. Pause the conversation if things become too tense. Return to the discussion when both of you have had time to cool down and think.
A lot of people worry that women will be offended by the idea of a prenup, leading to a heated conversation. In the past, when fewer women were in the workforce and men had more assets coming into the marriage, the idea of a prenup may have offended more women. Now, however, more women are initiating discussions with their partners to negotiate prenups. These days, the modern woman is usually self-sufficient, many coming into marriages with money and assets. The question of whether your woman partner will be offended by the proposal of a prenup is entirely dependent on both your financial and personal situations.
- Don’t blame your parents
Even if your parents are the ones who told you to consider a prenup, you must take responsibility for asking your partner to sign one. Putting the blame onto your parents can have negative results for two reasons. First, your partner may consider you weak or immature for blindly obeying your parents and not being able to make your own decisions. Second, bringing your mom and dad into it may turn your partner against them, and s/he may become angry that you’ve taken your parents’ side. You need to be mature and honest enough to leave your parents out of the prenup conversation.
- Listen to your partner’s concerns
Your partner will have wants and concerns that differ from your own, to pay attention to their perspective and keep an open mind. Try placing yourself in your partner’s shoes; have sensitivity towards them in this situation will make the conversation – as well as your future marriage – run more smoothly.
When disagreements do arise, think of compromise as an opportunity for improvement. Explore many options when looking for solutions, so you can find the best outcome for both of you. Keep in mind: you are not trying to win a battle – you are trying to build a partnership.
- Work together
If you approach the prenup as an issue that you need to work through together, your partner will feel more empowered, instead of feeling that they are being pushed to do this. Presenting a pre-drafted agreement to your partner will most likely put them on the defensive.
Both partners should be active participants in creating the prenup, to make that it’s equitable. You need to make this a co-created agreement that incorporates both of your concerns, not just the partner who has significantly more income or assets than the other. Hiring a neutral mediator to help you write the prenup collaboratively may help you reach an agreement that addresses both your concerns. Each of you should still hire separate attorneys to review the finished draft. This will increase the chance that the contract be upheld if it’s challenged.
- Mention that a good prenup benefits the lower-earning spouse, too
If you’re worried that you’ll come across as greedy by bringing up a prenup, remember that a well-crafted, thoughtful prenup protects both parties. Sometimes, the contract can be even more valuable to the less wealthy spouse, as it gives him/her some security regarding finances if divorce occurs later.
- Leave room for change over time
A prenup means you have to plan for things that have not happened yet. For instance, your partner may end up being deeply involved in your business, you may start a new company during your marriage, or your partner may leave work to become a stay-at-home parent.
Consider all of these possibilities and create a contract that is adaptable to various outcomes. Remember that your partner may support your business in indirect ways as well; for example, financial support while you start a new venture, or emotional support during difficult times. Make sure to develop terms that value both of your contributions.
See this related article: Prenups: the pros and cons.