Weddings

Dear Bitchless Bride: I’ve Been Dancing Around Asking for a Prenuptial Agreement

How to discuss a prenup without breaking up.


Welcome to Dear Bitchless Bride, a series in which wedding planner Deborah DeFrancesco—the founder of Bitchless Bride the Podcast + Blog—offers uncensored advice on your most complicated wedding-planning woes. Have a question for Deborah? Email weddings@bostonmagazine.com.

prenuptial agreement

Photo via Unsplash/Hutomo Abrianto

Dear Bitchless Bride,

How is everybody feeling about prenups these days? My fiancé asked me to marry him a few months ago, and I have been dancing around asking him for a prenuptial agreement because I’m scared he will freak out and think that our marriage is already doomed. Currently, we have separate bank accounts and split the bills evenly, but I have a trust (that I haven’t ever touched) with a substantial amount of money in it that I want to protect. When it’s time to buy a house together or save for college for our kids, I will certainly use this money to contribute. However, as somebody who grew up with divorced parents, I feel as though it would be irresponsible if I didn’t cover my backside. How do I begin to explain this to him without sounding like a jerk and possibly jeopardizing our future?

Sincerely,

Fear of the Prenup


Dear Fear of the Prenup,

It’s time to quit dancing and start talking. Unfortunately, although they are smart, prenuptial agreements have a grotesque stigma attached to them; nobody likes to think about what could go wrong when it comes to their marital bliss. However, the statistics don’t lie: 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. And hot damn is that uncomfortable and sh*tty, but it’s the truth. If we were talking about anything else with a 50/50 chance of not ending well, we’d absolutely protect ourselves, right? We’d take out an insurance policy, wear a lifejacket, get the surgery and do whatever we had to do to cover our asses. So why is this different? Because we have the audacity to think beyond the rainbows, unicorns, and a fancy wedding? Because you are a woman asking a man for a prenup? Enough! It’s time to fend for yourself.

That said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect your assets. I, too, am a child of divorce, and I am well aware that things can get ugly when it comes to money. But better now than at the end of a marriage when moods are tumultuous at best. Think you weren’t communicating affably then? You certainly won’t be communicating well across a glossy mahogany table with lawyers on either side. So talk now or forever hold your peace.

Okay, but how? Well, take the fear out of it, Bridey. You want to spend the rest of your life with this person, right? And discussing your hopes, dreams, and fears are all part of the two of you uniting. So just tell him how you feel. Quietly. This doesn’t have to be scary; you’re just being honest. Don’t make it about him or say things like, “Just in case you screw up, and our marriage doesn’t work out.” Make it about how you’re feeling and what’s at stake (ahem, your trust fund). And, reiterate what you said in your note: that when it’s time to buy a house together or save for college for your kids, you’ll use that money to contribute. It’s not like you’re saving it for after the divorce; you’re just protecting it from the possibility. Who knows? He might feel similarly and want to tell you about his desire for a prenup, too. But, if he doesn’t, just take your time, tell him what you want, and then listen. It might be worth chatting with an attorney, together, so that you both are educated on why a prenup is a worthy document for both parties, and not necessarily dooming your marriage.

Bridey, could this conversation be painstakingly difficult with negative connotations peppered throughout? Yes, absolutely. But, as difficult as it will be, it’s a conversation worth having—and soon. The longer you go without discussing it, the more difficult it will become. It’s like you’re lying by omission, and that’s not fair to either of you. So tell the truth because, in this case, it really will set you free. Will this conversation test your relationship? Yes, it will. Will this conversation potentially jeopardize your relationship. Yes, it will. But it’s a conversation that needs to happen to protect YOU. And you are totally worth it. You got this! Good luck!

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