I was well aware that he was still bitter his ex-wife had received half of his assets in their divorce. But more importantly, for many years I had been living below my means and shouldering investment risk to build up a $1 million portfolio. The thought of him having the right to half that should our marriage not survive made me sick to my stomach. But I was still nervous about having this discussion and being a buzzkill.
Dan had always encouraged me to be open with him about my feelings, so one night at dinner I asked him if he would consider signing a prenup. Yes, I just blurted it out (as I do with most subjects). Fortunately, he seemed relieved that I had broached the subject and had a few supporting arguments of his own. Because we didn’t intend to have a child together, there was no need for one of us to sacrifice our career to care for a baby, and he pointed out that since we both had successful careers and he anticipated starting his own company in the future, a prenup made a lot of sense. Although at that point our incomes were comparable, what if he built a company that generated millions of dollars of revenue, which enabled us to live a more pampered life? Should we divorce, would he be obligated to write me a check every month for thousands of dollars of spousal support?
I agreed not only with Dan’s points, but his feelings behind them. Surprisingly, the conversation wasn’t uncomfortable; in fact, it actually brought us closer together. If you can discuss the emotionally charged issue of money in a loving and respectful manner with your partner, then you can probably discuss almost anything.
We had a lawyer draw up the prenup and our wills at the same time. And in the end, we spent a few thousand dollars upfront, as a form of insurance, to avoid paying potentially astronomical lawyers’ fees in the future. We have been married nearly six years now, and that prenup is buried among all the other papers we never look at. Do we regret our decision? Not in the least.
I’ve heard from plenty of women that prenups aren’t for them — they have no assets right now, just lots of student debt. But I’d still encourage them to consider it. You went to college or graduate school for a reason, probably so you can earn a decent income in the future. Ten, 20 or 30 years from now you just might have income and assets you no longer want to share with that man you married.
Does signing a prenup mean you are banking on a divorce? Of course not. No one walks down the aisle dreaming of divorce, but you know the stats. No one buys a new car anticipating an accident either.
Laurie Itkin is Founder of The Options Lady and a Financial Advisor with Coastwise Capital Group. Her passion is educating and empowering women of all ages to take control of their money, become successful investors and grow the money they work so hard to earn. She is the author of “Every Woman Should Know Her Options: Invest Your Way to Financial Empowerment.”