For BRIDES, by Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW.
Discussing whether or not to sign a prenup — and the details therein — is perhaps the most difficult conversation an engaged couple will have. Below, six women share why they ultimately decided to sign on the dotted line.
“Initially I didn’t want a prenup but my fiancé reminded me we weren’t two clean slates. We’d each gone through tough divorces. Though I wanted to feel all roses and gooey going into this, when he put it that way I knew I had to be realistic. A prenup would protect each of us. Ten years later our marriage seems more secure than ever but I still think it was a good idea to make getting out if that’s something we need to do easier and fair for both of us.” —Shelly
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“I was thrilled when he proposed, though in the back of my mind I knew I was steeling myself for ‘the conversation’ that would have to happen. I started my own business when I was 20, and seven years later, it’s successful beyond what I would ever have dreamt. To be frank, I don’t want to share all the profits. So two months after the engagement, wedding planning in full swing, I broached the prenup conversation and was so relieved when Jim said he’d just assumed we would sign one at some point. Whew!” —Tina
“We hope and pray the marriage will last forever, but since both my parents and Pete’s parents divorced — my mother actually married and divorced a second time — it seemed to make sense to sign a prenup.” —Jean
“A prenup was important to him, not to me. So we made a deal: I’d sign if he signed an agreement as well — to do weekly specific household chores I’d had to force him to do during the months we’d been living together. It seemed a fair compromise — both of us agreeing to do something we didn’t really want to do. He’s kept up his end in the three years since the marriage. I don’t think we’ll ever divorce but if we do I’ve come around to feeling glad that the assets I came in with before marrying are safeguarded, as are his.” —Anne
“I have a child from a previous marriage, so signing a prenup was nonnegotiable. I need to protect my daughter’s interests above all. Dan understood my reasoning and agreed. For the record, he’s an amazing stepdad.” —Kimmy
“Mark had endured a messy divorce, so while I understood when he asked me to sign the prenup, I was also insulted. I told him I didn’t want to pay for the sins of his ex. He understood but said that some scars remain. We actually went to couples therapy to hash it out and I came away realizing it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t about him not believing in me and the strength of our bond. It was just something he needed — like Linus’s security blanket. So one night I signed and we celebrated with Champagne!” —Amy
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Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, is a New York City–based marriage therapist and author.