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How NOT to Ask your Partner for a Prenup

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As we’ve previously investigated, prenuptial agreements can be a very necessary and useful tool in protecting one’s assets and interests.  Ergo, it is (pretty much) unanimously agreed upon that securing a prenup can be a smart road to travel down when approaching the ever ambiguous altar.

Yet how does one broach this (potentially) highly sensitive subject matter?

Well, there may not be an absolute “right” way, but there certainly are few irksome and bumbling phrases and terms you should desperately avoid.

“I don’t want you to divorce me and then take all my money.”

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Well, duh.  This is clearly the most common fear of someone who has money when they enter into a marriage with someone who doesn’t have a penny/is in debt/has a loan shark waiting for them in the parking lot.  Perhaps a “let’s get a prenup so, in case things don’t work out, we both get what’s fair” will sound less insulting and laden with paranoia.

“Sorry, but I just want to make sure you won’t divorce me as soon as you get your citizenship …and take all my money.”

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Um…le awkward.

When walking down the aisle with someone from another land, there may be a slight tickling at the back of your brain that they are getting hitched to you solely so they can enjoy the fruits of your country.  If this is the case, simply explain that you need a prenup in place because it looks good to the immigration board when they conduct your review.  This will at least temporarily assuage some of the awkwardness and buy you some time…in the event that they aren’t just using you for your glorious connection to the USA: debatably the greatest country in North America.

“Hey, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m scared you will divorce me at the drop of a hat and use your high powered lawyers to make sure I never see a penny.”

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Ok, so if you’re the one who is entering into the marriage without any dough, you may (justly) have some trepidation about getting married to someone who could conceivably squash you in divorce court.  Here a touch of simple ‘reverse psychology’ may help: “Just so you know that I’m not trying to rob you legally blind, let’s get a prenup!”  This may quell their fears about your intentions, while you quietly conjure up some equitable prenup conditions of your own.

“I just want to ensure that if we ever get divorced you won’t raise our children Wiccan.”

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Prenups are not only about money.  They can state certain things about child rearing and the like.  If you are scared your mate has the potential to do weirdo things with your kid’s upbringing (be it religious instruction/cult involvement/AmWay sales) you can protect their innocent minds with a thoughtfully crafted premarital agreement.  To execute this with propriety, you may go with something along the lines of: “It’s so great that we’re on the same page now with everything – just in case either one of us loses our marbles one day, let’s get a prenup that will safeguard our future offspring from lunacy.  Heart you, honey!”

“So…I was talking to my friend…she thinks you have a huge amount of debt that you’re not telling me about.  I’m thinking prenup: STAT.” 

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Sometimes people have secrets.  Sometimes those secrets come in the form of ginormous, gaping chasms of debilitating debt.  In the modern times in which we live, people are more aware than ever that when you marry someone, you are also entering into a blessed union with their finances, be they good or ohdearlordwhatishappening??  If you suspect a massive amount of credit card/student loan/etsy.com account debt looming in their past, you may want to arm yourself with a prenup.  One alternative to the graceless phrasing above could be: “Sweetie, I’ve battled with some debt demons in the past.  I’d love for us to get a prenup so we both feel confident that we are protected from either one of us possibly going off the deep end.”  It’s not ideal, but at least they will feel the empathy you are expounding, which may even lead them to coming clean themselves about the $32,000 they owe to Bath & Body Works.

“I am worried that my business will blow up and you will rob me of the one thing I have put my entire heart, soul and loins into.”

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When you are a small business owner, it’s easy to develop a strong attachment to the very thing you have cultivated and nurtured into being.  If a prospective spouse sends off the vibe that they may usurp you of your little business-baby, you naturally will feel a tad overprotective.  In this case, all you need to say is something to the effect of: “You are the most important thing in my life; my business is the second.  Let’s hash things out so everyone knows exactly what we’re entitled to.”  It’s not perfect, but it’ll do the proverbial job.

“If you dump me, I’m keeping the rings.”  /  “If you dump me, I want my rings back.” 

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Believe it or not, this is an actual point of contention for numerous couples.  Sometimes the engagement or wedding ring is a family heirloom that not only has monetary worth but emotional value as well, and the person supplying it will want it returned in the event of an uncoupling.  There are other circumstances where the person receiving the rings feels that these objects are then their property and they are forever entitled to them (the law, incidentally, is typically on their side in this case).  Whatever the scenario is, if you want to make sure you ultimately retain the rings, simply say: “Dear, you know these rings mean a lot to my family; so my mother/father/wacky Aunt Helen is making me get it in writing that if something goes awry, they then can have them back” or “If it somehow doesn’t work out with us, I just want to always have the rings to remind me of you.”  They’ll still likely know you’re spouting fabricated nonsense, but this makes it a little more palatable…like you’re actually considering their feelings.

“If you gain a lot of weight, I want out.”

Uh…there’s just no delicate way to put this one.

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-Joe Leone