Want to cool the good feelings of an engagement? Just ask your fiancé for a prenuptial agreement. The word "prenup" might be the most unromantic phrase in the English language, and asking for one can be scary.
There is no disputing the benefits of a prenuptial agreement. It can simplify a divorce, address how property will be distributed, and how much—if any—spousal maintenance will be paid. It can also address how expenses will be paid and assets are acquired during a marriage. But, requesting one is difficult, as the agreement contemplates that the impending marriage will fail and the parties will divorce.
Asking for a prenup on the eve of marriage, when you are pledging your love, may cause your fiancé to feel as if you don't trust him or her, or that you're anticipating a divorce. The request could result in suspicion, hurt feelings, or even dampen the romance.
Popping the prenup question has to be done with finesse, sensitivity, and tact.
Express Your Love and Commitment
It is imperative to explain that your request for a prenuptial agreement is not an indication of a lack of love, trust, or commitment. It is simply a way to protect each other in the event that the marriage does result in divorce. Express that you have no reason to believe that the marriage will fail, but the agreement is there just in case.
Talk About Your Children
If you have children or other financial commitments from prior relationships, help your future spouse understand that you have existing financial obligations, and you will honor them just as you are making commitments to your new spouse.
Own Your Decision
While you can probably provide examples of friends and family who have a prenuptial agreement or know a couple that could have benefitted from one, ultimately, it's your decision to ask for a prenup. Use "I" statements, be assertive, and own your request. Hiding behind a recommendation from a family member won't ease any tensions. In some professions, a prenup is a standard element of the engagement. While you shouldn't lean on your career as your reason for the prenup, you can explain that from your standpoint, the agreement is no different than a marriage contract or any other step involved in the process of being happily married.
Proactively Plan Financials and Offer Full Disclosure
A valid prenup requires complete financial disclosure. Assure your future spouse that you are being completely transparent, that you have put all your cards on the table, and that you have no secrets.
Mention the Prenup Early
It's best to bring up your desire for a prenup early in the relationship, and prior to getting engaged, in order to better gauge your partner's feelings on the topic. You don't want any lingering unease interrupting what should be a beautiful wedding day.
Answer All Questions
Be a good listener when your future spouse voices concerns. Be attentive and answer to the best of your ability all of your fiancé's questions. Explain that each of you should have counsel. If you are requesting the prenup and your fiancé cannot afford an attorney, volunteer to pay the attorney's fees.
A prenuptial agreement, when handled properly, can actually strengthen a committed couples' relationship. Usually, over time, even the most hesitant spouse will come to see the benefits of a prenup. In a lot of ways, it's like an insurance policy. No one wants a marriage to end, but should it happen, you will be glad you planned for it in a prenuptial agreement.