Prenups get a bad rep. Probably because we usually hear about them when celeb relationships go wrong. Like the time Tony Romo allegedly included a clause that forced Jessica Simpson to give him $500,000 for every pound she gained over 135lbs. Or the time Denise Richards demanded that Charlie Sheen give her a $4 million payout if she caught him cheating (well, ok, that was actually a smart decision).
While prenups typically make their cameos in the dramatic lives of the rich and famous, there are many practical and useful ways that they can serve everyday couples. Not unlike health insurance — even if you don’t plan on getting sick, it’s good to have.
Prenups are like health insurance: they’re good to have, even if you don’t plan to get sick.
So what are the benefits of a prenup? Is it possible that these agreements could actually help couples have a more successful relationship? Here are a few reasons for how they might help:
THE PROBLEM: A recent Bank of America study found that nearly one-in-five millennials don’t know how much their spouse makes. More anecdotally, I’ve talked to SO MANY couples who were far too afraid to have “the money conversation” before they got married. Some later discovered that their spouse was in serious debt or that their partners credit score prevented them from the goal of owning a home. This type of “money infidelity” can cripple a relationship, even if it’s unintentional.
HOW A PRENUP CAN HELP: During the process of drawing up a prenup, both partners are asked to list out all their assets and debts, no matter how much or how little they have. After that, there’s a discussion about how they want to treat money generated (or borrowed) during their marriage. While it can be awkward to talk about it, many couples talk about feeling closer as a result of the conversation.
THE PROBLEM: If a marriage has come to an end, one or both partners have usually become biased against the other person. In some cases, there’s a lot of anger or resentment towards the other partner. In that moment, talking about money can cause further stress for both people. Sometimes divorces drag on because couples can’t come to agreement about how to divide their assets. If you have kids in the mix, they can get caught in the crossfire.
HOW A PRENUP CAN HELP: Prenups define money protocols in the event of a break up. These protocols were created when you were happy and calm, not negotiated between lawyers and angry conversations. In a nutshell, they reduce the time, energy, and emotion spent on money when most couples just want to move on.
THE PROBLEM: We humans aren’t good at being perfect. Many of us have some kind of baggage: we shop too much, we take too much risk, we have our addictions, or even a tendency to cheat. And while our partners may see the best in us, what happens if some of that baggage spills? Are we protected in those scenarios? Are our kids?
HOW A PRENUP CAN HELP: Prenups can take the “what-ifs” out of these scenarios and give both partners peace of mind. Nicole Kidman famously included a clause that would deny Keith Urban certain assets if he went back to drugs (he has a history with cocaine). Some couples add protections for their kids if a parent were to re-marry. Others might even want to protect against the risk of a business going south.
Like the Jen vs. Angelina debate, there’s no denying that people have strong feelings about prenups (to be clear, I’m Team Jen all the way). Whichever side you’re on, it’s up to you to decide what you prefer as a team. Regardless of what you pick, you’ll make the right decision together.
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