I'm An Engaged Woman and Think We Should Have a Prenup.

I just got engaged after dating for 8 months and am ecstatic. It felt like a dream come true for both of us when we met and started dating. I am a regular reader and know that you advocate dating for 2 years before thinking of marriage, but we are both ready. Our compatibility is a 9, chemistry is a 9, and our relationship hovers between 9/10. We will probably set our wedding date for 6-8 months later, so that means we will get married at the 14-16 month mark.

One thing that has me a bit stymied is how to broach the prenup talk. Personally, I make a very modest living and am happy with a modest lifestyle. However, my family is very well-off and will gift me a home, jewelry, and a new car when I get married. As for him, he is a very hard, responsible worker earning a good wage and has saved enough money to buy a home for us. How to broach the subject of setting up a prenup so that in case of divorce, both of our assets are protected? It feels so defeatist to enter marriage with talks of prenup, but I understand it has to be done.

In addition, he has asked that I resign from my job and focus on raising our children since he will take care of everything. While I would love to put all my energies into making a wonderful, loving home, I think it is a big mistake to become completely financially dependent on him, however good his intentions are. I think the best course of action is to for us to set up a prenup where we can each have our own counsel review the prenup, set the terms where he is responsible for the home and car he purchases, I am responsible for the home and car under my name. In addition, we should maintain separate 401K/retirement funds, and whatever other personal funds, but contribute to a joint family bank account.

If I cannot work for a number of years while pregnant or raising young children, what is an equitable way to handle finances? If he is temporarily unemployed while looking for a new job or going back to school, what is an equitable way to handle finances in this case? We are in love and clearly have the best intentions of supporting each other emotionally and financially, but I do believe it’s best to set up a sound and fair financial system now without emotions clouding the process. Please help, thank you. ~Liz

Liz,

Congratulations on your engagement. Congratulations on being ecstatic.

That’s about all the nice stuff you’re gonna get from me, because someone has to burst your bubble quick.

Listen, I appreciate that you think you’re the exception to the rule that the healthiest marriages result from 2-3 years of organic, uninterrupted courtship. I know you’re aware that the weakest marriages begin with two people who “just know” that they’re “meant to be” because they’re “soulmates” and are completely “ready” because they’re “different” than other couples. I know you read this recent blog post about getting the order of things right and determined that it didn’t really apply to you.

I don’t think you’re stupid. Or even naive. You’re “in love.” And, unfortunately, when you’re “in love,” it’s literally the worst time to make any major decisions. Your brain is so flooded with dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin, estrogen, testosterone and other pheromones that you can’t think straight. All you can think about his how perfect things are..

I feel you. Just know that just about every divorced couple on the planet once felt like you.

That’s about all the nice stuff you’re gonna get from me, because someone has to burst your bubble quick.

You didn’t mention how old you are, Liz. My question is simply this:

What’s the rush?

Unless you are 40-years-old and want to get pregnant yesterday, there is NO compelling reason to get married after 14 months. None. If your relationship is that strong, whatever you feel today will only get BETTER in one year, two years, three years, and so on.

You believe that, right?

Oh, wait, you don’t? You are secretly worried that things are not going to feel as good down the road? That you’re going to get to see each other’s flaws, start to argue, and discover some fundamental differences? That you’re going to run out of things to say, become bored of sex, or hit some roadblocks?

It’s one or the other, Liz.

Either you believe that everything is going to be rosy, in which case, you can wait until the hormones die down in two years before tying the knot, OR you believe that reality will hit you like it hits everybody else on the planet – and you just want to lock in a ring while you’re at your emotional peak.

You will probably say that it’s neither – that you know that reality is going to hit, but you want to marry him ANYWAY. Why now, after only 8 months together? Well, um, because you love him, he loves you, and you both want to get married. The “just because” excuse. Got it.

If this sounds like I’m trying to scare you straight and ask you to reconsider your premature engagement, it’s because I am. In fact, your letter makes my point far better than I could.

“He has asked that I resign from my job and focus on raising our children since he will take care of everything. While I would love to put all my energies into making a wonderful, loving home, I think it is a big mistake to become completely financially dependent on him, however good his intentions are. I think the best course of action is to for us to set up a prenup where we can each have our own counsel review the prenup, set the terms where he is responsible for the home and car he purchases, I am responsible for the home and car under my name. In addition, we should maintain separate 401K/retirement funds, and whatever other personal funds, but contribute to a joint family bank account.

If I cannot work for a number of years while pregnant or raising young children, what is an equitable way to handle finances? If he is temporarily unemployed while looking for a new job or going back to school, what is an equitable way to handle finances in this case? We are in love and clearly have the best intentions of supporting each other emotionally and financially, but I do believe it’s best to set up a sound and fair financial system now without emotions clouding the process.”

Emotions clouding the process. We wouldn’t want that, would we? Not with something as important as love, marriage and money involved.

If this sounds like I’m trying to scare you straight and ask you to reconsider your premature engagement, it’s because I am.

You got the order wrong, my friend. You got engaged before you agreed on a vision of life, before you discussed what you thought of prenups, or your families, or joint accounts, or being a stay-at-home mom. You’ve got no idea who you’re marrying yet, whether you’re on the same path, and whether you are able to compromise and negotiate around some fundamental issues.

All you know is that you have an AMAZING relationship and a ring and you’ll figure the rest out later.

Yes, I believe in prenups (even though I don’t have one). I consider logic equally with emotion and I think it’s practical, given your circumstances, to sort that out in advance.

I think it’s completely unfair for him to tell you to quit your job and raise the kids. I love the fact that my wife is a stay-at-home-mom, but that was her choice, and I thankfully have the means to support our family by myself. You are 50% of this relationship and if you want to work, work part-time, pay for a nanny, or keep up your skill set and resume should you ever want to return to work full-time, that’s up to you to decide, and for your husband to support your wishes.

Until you navigate these issues, your question about how to handle household finances when you’re pregnant is irrelevant.

First, take a step back to evaluate everything. I’m not saying to call off the engagement – what’s done is done. But certainly postpone the wedding date, live together, and work through your respective concerns about love, work and money BEFORE you pay tens of thousands of dollars to stand on the altar.

And if that seems like too much work because you’re so in love that you just must get married as soon as possible, all I can say is that you better get that prenup worked out first.