How to Cope If Your Fiancé Announces He Wants a Prenup

Don't hit the panic button.

couple holding hands
Photo: Jillian Mitchell Photography

Prenuptial agreements are hard to sort through, and they're especially difficult when you didn't think you'd be faced with one. If your future husband or wife announces he or she wants one, there's no need to freak out. Case in point: There are plenty of couples who've gone through this process and remained married for the long haul. In fact, these premarital contracts are no longer exclusive to the ultra-wealthy or celebrity set. These days, a growing number of average couples are starting to recognize the long-term benefits of a clear financial plan over the course of a marriage. So, if you're significant other has let you know he or she wants you to sign a prenup, here's what to do.

For starters, don't freak out.

Being upset, offended, or taking it personally can quickly lead to resentment, which is no way to start your marriage. While it may feel like a personal attack when the words, "I'd like you to sign a prenup," are spoken, it's really not meant to be. In fact, it's probably in the best interest of your relationship to have this conversation early so that you can come to a mutual agreement that works well for the future of your family.

Try to understand the benefits of a prenup.

A prenup can sort out many of the nitty gritty details related to both assets and debts that are acquired over the course of a marriage. Divorces are often riddled with emotional pain and they tend to bring out the worst in both parties, and a pre-existing agreement of a financial split that's fair, reliable, and straightforward will be a welcome relief should such an unexpected occasion occur.

Think of it as a business transaction.

If you were starting a business with another person and opening a shared bank account, it would be your priority to have a contract that states exactly what'll happen in the case of dissolution of that business. Your marriage is essentially the same thing. While it may seem unromantic, you're creating an insurance plan for your family in case something unexpected happens later.

Recognize that a prenup isn't a sign of trouble to come.

You're in this relationship together and it's only out of your mutual respect for one another that such a bond could be formed from the start. If you trust your partner and you know you have each other's best interests at heart, it should be relatively straightforward to collaborate on a financial plan that feels fair for you both.

Talk about the discomfort.

Emotions are sure to arise when you're discussing the terms of your prenup, and it's crucial to the wellbeing of your relationship that you talk through these issues with your partner as they come up. If you hold onto feelings of mistrust and a lack of transparency, you'll always feel the burden of this prenup as unfair. That's not the end goal for either of you, so finding a common ground where you're both comfortable and feel you're being taken care of is key.

Consult with a lawyer.

You may find yourself chatting with friends, family, or your therapist about your prenup. That's great for the sake of emotional advice, but the best practical input you can seek during this time is that of a lawyer's. A prenup is a legal document that's typically drawn up by a lawyer, and you'll need your own lawyer's help in decoding it, picking out what works and what doesn't, and finding a middle ground for both parties.

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