Asking for a Prenup

by TTMK on August 5, 2013 · 10 comments

First off, I’ll say that the most important thing in a relationship is just that: the relationship.  Money isn’t what’s most important, not even close.  I think most of us would agree with that.  Maybe not everybody, but most do.  Count me in the group valuing people over money!

So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can also say the money really does play a role in relationships.  This is a big part of Tie the Money Knot, as you know.  Money either directly or indirectly influences all kinds of relationships.  Perhaps most of all, this impacts couples that are either married or considering marriage.

With respect to the latter, one would of course like to think that money shouldn’t matter.  But while it’s not most important as we know, it’s not an unimportant factor.  In terms of compatibility, how people manage money and where it fits into their long-term goals can make or break some relationships.  Where there is a disparity in assets coming into a marriage, this can bring up a whole new set of challenges.

Along those lines, I know somebody who is hoping to get married to really great girl, but is worried about protecting his money.  At first, that might not sound great, but I don’t blame him.  This guy, in his mid 30’s, has a substantial amount of money.  At least, that’s what he recently indicated to me in a conversation about getting a prenup.

I suspected that he might be doing well since he’s bright and has a very successful career, but honestly never really gave it much thought.  He likes to save money and doesn’t seem to require too many material things.  He’s practical, and never shows off.  At the same time, he’s a lot of fun to be around and always laughing and joking around. All around, a really good guy and loyal friend.

Anyway, he shared with me that he has thought about marriage with his (very nice) girlfriend.   They seem to be a great match, and have dated for several years.  Now, she doesn’t appear to come from wealth – which of course wouldn’t normally be noteworthy or important.  The thing is, since he has worked hard to make and save his money, he is afraid of losing it in the future.  Being practical, he realizes that the divorce rate is quite high.  It’s not like most people married thinking they would divorce, but sadly somewhere around half end up doing so based on oft-quoted statistics.

Normally, I wouldn’t readily or easily agree with this notion of pursuing a prenup.  As I’ve written before, I think that in most cases a prenup might not be a good ideaHowever, it’s not like they’re 25 and getting married when they’re both just starting out.  It’s not like both are still paying off student loans or are in graduate school, or have very little in their modest savings accounts.  He has worked for quite a few years and has amassed a nice nest egg.  He should have the right to do what he wants with it, right?  After all, he earned it.

His fear is that if he brings this up with her, she will think differently of him.  The conversation centered around how if the roles were reversed, and she asked him for a prenup, it would be more socially acceptable.  However, if a man asks for one, he’s considered selfish and decidedly non-generous, while not exhibiting a “protector” instinct.

The thing is, he really does care for her and has purely good intentions.  He’s a really good guy, as I mentioned before.

All things considered, I don’t see anything wrong with him asking, and in this case think it’s perfectly understandable why he would want to get one.   However, he has to weigh this against the reality that asking her could cause him to risk losing the woman who just might be “The One”.   I also see how it would be perfectly understandable to choose to avoid the risk, and just not bring it up.  Either way makes sense when you think about it, or at least when I do.

One might say that if you’re worried about what happens if you get divorced, you shouldn’t marry that person.  That just seems like the way I looked at it, and the natural way to think about it.  But is it really “wrong”?  I don’t think so, the more I consider this.

He strongly believes that any money earned after marriage would be totally shared equally, and what he makes would equally be hers.  I don’t even think he really cares if she works or not.  He prefers to pay when they’re on dates or out someplace, and seems to feel guilty if she pays her own way.  In short, he’s more old-fashioned and “chivalrous” than most guys today.  Not sure whether or not to give him credit for that, as it’s not necessarily better than a guy who wants things equal.  But, it might score him points with some people.

So you see, this is a good guy.  He just wants to keep all his money earned prior to marriage for himself. And he’s worried about losing the girl if he tries to do so.  High stakes, and high drama!

My Questions for You

What do you think about this?

Are his concerns valid, both about wanting to protect his money as well as risking ruining the relationship by asking for a prenup?

How would you suggest he ask for a prenup?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ evolvingPF August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

Is he sure he needs a prenup? I’m sure it’s state-by-state dependent, but isn’t it pretty standard that assets brought into the marriage belong to the individuals and marital assets are split upon divorce? I thought prenups were better used to protect income differences, but I could be mistaken.

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TTMK August 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

That’s where specific advice comes into play, and I’d say a professional could probably answer that. At least, someone operating in a specific state that’s applicable to a given situation. I think an issue that might come into play is comingling of assets and the risks involved. Such things might seem simple in principle, but more tricky in practice.

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Matt Becker August 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I have no experience in this area, so I’m not really qualified to give advice. I didn’t personally ask for a pre-nup and never even considered it. I just wanted all our money to be joint, but I don’t think your friend is being unreasonable. I think that if this is something that’s really important to him then he has to bring it up. I don’t think you can go into a marriage with reservations. That’s just asking for trouble. But I would be worried about the reaction too. Still, that’s not a good enough reason to avoid it, unless he decides that it isn’t actually important to him.

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TTMK August 8, 2013 at 12:01 am

Makes sense, one really shouldn’t go into one of the biggest (THE biggest, perhaps?) commitments that could possibly be made while having serious reservations.

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Jules@Faithful With a Few August 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I personally would be a hurt if I was asked, I would feel that he has doubts about marriage. I don’t care what statistics are about divorce. Tricky situation. Guess u have to decide if money is worth risking love.

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TTMK August 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

When it comes to such things, sometimes some people operate mostly on logic and others let emotions guide them a bit more. That’s the risk!

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AverageJoe August 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

I’d ask for one, if I were in his shoes. However, you have to be careful. If he works with a financial planner, it might be better to ask the professional to bring it up. At the very least, couch it in a discussion about all of your financial picture. Look at combining checking accounts, insurance changes, both individuals benefits options through work, and estate planning (including a prenup).

By focusing on the whole picture and including a prenup, I think the discussion is more easily bridged.

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TTMK August 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I like that, Joe. In a roundabout way, that’s kind of like the compliment sandwich. You know, couch some unpleasant comments in between some nice comments. Easy way to communicate difficult stuff.

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Brent Pittman August 7, 2013 at 5:44 am

Jerk! Probably not, but that’s what some of you were thinking right? I’d say if he has over a million or a business that’s worth over a million he’s bringing in to the marriage than do it. She should understand and want to prove she’s not a gold digger.

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TTMK August 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Ha! At first I thought you were serious, but I do think some people would unfairly say that.

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