I believe it behooves me to put friends and family at ease and clarify my motivation behind breaching the subject of love, marriage, and the prenuptial agreement. Fear not, I have no intentions of marrying anytime soon.
However, my curiosity was recently piqued when I read an article published by the Huffington Post that argued adamantly against the idea of a prenup. Yet considering my recent experience in divorce court (see A Question about Justice – Observations from my Day in Court), I began to wonder if a prenup was such a bad thing after all.
Many individuals believe the fallacy that love is purely emotional. They cling to the illusion that love is a feeling, a romance, an undying ecstasy of pleasure. Hallmark and Hollywood do little to dissuade this notion. Actors and actresses rarely fall in love because of logic and reason. No, love is supposed to be unreasonable, illogical, inexplicable—and of course, incredible.
That is, until you find yourself in divorce court staring with loathing at the spouse you once pledged to love for your entire life. Ahh yes, the universe and its curveballs.
Drafting and signing a prenuptial agreement is, granted, rather unromantic. It’s a decision that is based primarily on logic and reasoning. Yuck. Since when did logic have anything to do with love? A prenup is an agreement signed before marriage that can include anything from keeping finances separate to protecting each other from debt to clarifying responsibilities in the marriage relationship to distributing assets in the case of divorce. A prenup is a provision in case of failure. But goodness me, I forgot. Your marriage isn’t going to fail. Right. So said all divorced people at one point. May the odds be ever in your favor (and I’d like to point out—these aren’t great odds).
In the Huffington Post article, Tamara Shayne Kagel argues that there should be no easy way out of marriage. In her opinion, divorce should be as hard as putting forth the effort necessary to make marriage work.
In other words, if an easy way out of marriage exists, there will likely be less motivation to work through marital rough patches. Contrarily, if divorce means years in court, hefty lawyer fees, and extended emotional trauma, there might be a greater incentive to stick by one’s spouse.
But should the fear of a nasty divorce ever be an incentive to continue in a destructive marriage? Sometimes, despite best efforts, marriages fall apart. Should a drawn-out and painful divorce be the natural consequence of a failed marriage? Absolutely not. Additionally, a disagreeable divorce almost always affects others besides the ex-couple (think children). I have to wonder how much simpler life would be for the ex-couple I recently met (refer to article referenced above for full story) had they signed a prenup. They would have avoided 9 freaking years of fighting. Yes, marriage is supposed to be forever. But sometimes, actually 50% of the time, it’s not. Better be safe than sorry.
But safeguarding yourself, your children, and your marriage is far more complex than simply signing a prenuptial agreement. It starts before you ever “fall” in love. It starts by developing your own character (see Consistent Satisfaction and 100%-ers), staying true to your values, beliefs, and integrity, growing in maturity, and becoming the best version of yourself you can become. As you focus on personal development, you can then begin to thoughtfully consider the characteristics you want in your spouse. I strongly encourage writing down the top qualities you want in a future husband/wife. Also be sure to include anything you consider to be a deal breaker. Whenever your emotions become overwhelming, refer back to your list. Never compromise.
A few characteristics I look for in potential life-partners are problem-solving skills, communication skills, perseverance, respect, introspection, growth, and the ability to work through disagreements. I know that if my partner and I can communicate our frustrations, solve problems respectfully and persevere through the tough times, we will have a far greater likelihood of a successful marriage.
While checklists may seem horribly unromantic, I refuse to trust my entire future to mere emotions or what “feels right” at the moment. Marriage is likely the most life-altering decision I will ever make—so yeah, it had better make pretty darn good logical sense to me before I say “I do.”
Thoughtful considerations, checklists, and planning for worst case scenarios are all aspects of logical love. And while it may seem unromantic, logical love has a far greater chance of succeeding than emotional love. Logical love makes provisions for safety.
Signing a prenup is simply one of those provisions. A prenup doesn’t doom you to divorce just like auto insurance doesn’t doom you to a car accident.
Do everything you can to preserve your marriage, but don’t be naïve. Recognize that despite best intentions, things fall apart. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
Smile and remember—today will be amazing!