The Valentine’s Day Proposal: First Comes Love, Then Comes… a Prenup?
If you are one of the millions of people who got engaged on Valentine’s Day: Congratulations! It may feel too soon to start talking about the details of your actual wedding, but I can assure you that it’s never too early to start talking about a prenuptial agreement. That’s because talking about a prenup is a financial and emotional conversation that’s only going to get more difficult the closer you get to the wedding day. During this early stage of your engagement, you and your fiancé are likely to be in alignment on the future that you plan to have together. That makes this the perfect time to talk about what a marriage and an economic partnership mean to each of you based on your respective values, goals and ideas around money. Starting the prenup process early helps to treat your future relationship with the respect that it’s due.
That’s not to say it won’t be uncomfortable to have this conversation. But, being uncomfortable for the sake of your relationship is one of the most romantic things you can do. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe Stassi Schroeder from Vanderpump Rules “I feel like people look at that as like a dirty thing that we shouldn’t talk about, but it’s honestly, I feel like there is some romanticism to it and being able to be so close to someone that you’re willing to have those uncomfortable conversations.”
If you’re convinced that this is something you need to start thinking about now, then you may be wondering:
What Are My First Steps If I Want a Prenup?
1. Make a list of the reasons why a prenuptial agreement is important to you. What do you hope to achieve? What do you hope to avoid? What are your overall goals?
2. Approach the subject from a place of love, not fear. What would it be like to tell your fiancé, “I love you, and I don’t want either of us to worry about what would happen if our marriage ends? I don’t want either of us to be financially insecure. And if we have this discussion now, our marriage can be focused on our love, our family, and the life we’re going to create together.”
3. Let your fiancé know at least 6 months before the wedding date that a prenuptial agreement is important to you.
4. Have a focused conversation when you bring the topic up. Don’t let him know by text. Don’t send an email. Don’t mention it when you’re running out the door in the morning. And please don’t mention it for the first time when you’re in the middle of an argument about money or, even worse, his mother.
5. Consider using a neutral mediator to help you have this conversation in a trusting, open and transparent way. Or hire two collaborative lawyers who are going to make sure that it will be a conversation focused on what is most important to the two of you, and not turn your discussion into a battle.
What Should I Expect if I Don’t Take Your Advice to Start Early?
1. As the wedding gets closer, and you’re both busier than ever with work, family obligations and wedding planning, neither you nor your fiancé will have the time to have a calm and productive conversation about what can be very sensitive topics. You simply won’t have the bandwidth necessary to really engage and listen to each other,
2. The person who is learning for the first time that their fiancé is thinking about a prenup could feel like this is coming out of left field. Don’t be surprised if there is a lot of anger and upset if you raise this issue for the first time just a few months before your wedding day.
3. You might make bad decisions by giving up too much or not asking for what you really need because you feel under pressure to just get the process over with.
A Final Thought About Prenuptial Agreements
Every state has different requirements for prenuptial agreements. Don’t expect that a form you download off the internet and sign will be enforceable should you ever need it. Each of you needs to speak with an attorney to fully understand your legal rights, the ramifications if you don’t have a prenup and what the prenup should address if you do.
To discuss whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you, contact us. You can also download the Prenuptial Agreement Checklist from our website and the video Why Millennials Are The Fastest Growing Group Asking for Prenuptial Agreements. And check out this Pure Wow article that featured my advice The Millenial Wedding Trend that your Grandmother Hates (But Your Financial Planner Loves).
Tip: If you’re already married and regretting that you don’t have a prenup, it’s not too late! A postnuptial agreement can be negotiated when you’re married and there is some sort of a change in your relationship (like becoming parents!) or your financial circumstances change, such as an inheritance or launching a new business.