I’ve been seeing a great guy for a few months now. At dinner he mentioned that he probably wants a prenup when he gets married. I was shocked – he’s been so sweet, and prenups sound so unromantic! I’m seeing him in a different light and second-guessing whether he’s actually as great as he seems. If a guy wants a prenup, does it mean he’ll never really commit to our relationship, even if we get married? If he really loved me, he wouldn’t want a prenup, right?
The short answer: no, no no!
First off, if he has significant assets, or what lawyers call “expectancies” (trusts and similar things), he may be getting a lot of pressure from his family to do a prenup. (I’m guessing you don’t have significant assets or “expectancies,” or you would probably be getting similar pressure from your family or thinking about a prenup yourself.)
Second, if he’s willing to bring this up with you, it shows that he’s responsible, thoughtful, and an honest communicator. These are great qualities in a boyfriend, husband, and father. Maybe guys who ramp up the charm on the first few dates could be called “romantic” because they send you lots of flowers, but in my mind, “romantic” means being considerate and respectful and sweet for the long haul. And being responsible does not mean that he shouldn’t (or won’t!) be a flower-giver too.
More to the point – and this may surprise you – prenups are actually very romantic. Sure, if you marry this guy (or anyone else) you’re not going to want to be thinking about what happens if you split up, especially in the months before you get married, when you’re swept up in how much you’re in love and looking forward to your life together.
But you’ve probably heard the often-quoted statistic that “approximately half of marriages end in divorce.” So in a deep sense, prenups are romantic in that they protect you during your marriage, and give you freedom to live your life the way you want without worrying the rug will be pulled out from under you if things ever go sour. This is especially true if you have ideas about taking time out of the workforce to raise kids, as many women do (and as many husbands/dads want them to do). This is a choice every couple must make for themselves, but it is somewhat risky for the woman (taking yourself out of the workforce can make your job skills rusty, making you a less attractive job candidate when you want to go back to work).
Prenups also force you to talk about money and finances before you get married. If you’re uncomfortable talking about money (or even if you’re not), this is anything but unromantic. This is a crucial skill that will save you from many fights during your marriage – very romantic indeed.
Bottom line: even if your guy hasn’t thought this out as much I have, these are the reasons that lawyers write a lot of prenups. You don’t usually hear about people’s prenups because it’s a taboo topic, but couples in their 20s and 30s are getting them more and more often. And when spouses enter a marriage feeling protected and with the experience of having open communication about sensitive topics, they set the stage for a healthy, committed, romantic marriage.