prenups: yes or no.

February 10, 2009

What do you guys think of pre-nuptial agreements?

I was watching Brothers and Sisters (which btw deserves a whole blog post on how amazing it is. It has successfully sucked tears out of me, until now I have become the sole entertainment for Dean and his rolled up tissues thrown at me from across the room) and they had this episode where Kitty found a prenup agreement in one Robert, her fiance’s files.

I couldn’t help but imagine how I would feel if I were in her position. Would I be OK with it, would I be upset?

Is it OK to think of the negative what ifs and divide your assets even before sharing your lives together? It’s kinda like being in a room with a tape down the middle, separating each other’s side of the room. You can come to my side of the tape if we’re happy, but if we’re fighting you stay away and don’t come to my side. Except of course with prenups, what’s involved is not hair straighteners, or socks. It’s actual assets, more often than not, big ones e.g. matrimonial home, properties, lands, shares.

I’m in love. So were the couples in those painful divorces.

Not in a million years would I think that Dean would leave me or cheat on me. So did the victim in that divorce.

Not in a million years would I think that Dean would be stingy about his assets, or vice versa. So did that couple.

So, what is the difference between all couples? How can we be really sure what our futures hold for us?

The obvious truth is we don’t. Time changes people. Money changes people. Meeting new people changes people.

As cliche as it sounds, the only thing we can hold on to is trust and love.

Personally, I don’t think those things have anything to do with a prenup. I know, I know, you probably think since I do family law, I have a biased inclination towards the unhappy ending of divorce battles and asset divisions. But I really don’t. I think divorces are nasty, and should only be the absolutely last straw. But honestly, I think prenup is just a protection which we should see as a duty to protect ourselves.

If it is such a taboo to speak of the unwanted things that could happen before even beginning the journey, then why do Malay weddings insist on the reading aloud of the marriage contract during the ceremony. The groom has to read a piece of paper which explicitly states the wife’s rights if there ever arises events such as the husband leaving her, cheating on her, hits her. But they get married there and then anyway, despite hearing all this from the groom’s mouth himself. What’s so different about a prenup?

Your love to your future wife or husband should not be threatened by a piece of paper.

People say if you had faith in your relationship, you wouldn’t even think about the breakdown and what happens next.

But I want to spin it around. If you had faith in your relationship, you wouldn’t be put off by signing a piece of paper which you’re sure to never see again anyway. It’s that confidence that should be honored. It’s the commitment that your partner conveys that he or she loves you for you, regardless of the properties and shares under your belt, and proves it by signing them away.

I recognise that the legal contract is cold, it detaches itself from the feelings and sensitivities of the parties. But at least it’s clear, it’s specific, and it acknowledges reality. Starting a marriage with naiveness isn’t always ideal. A little maturity and open-mindedness would not hurt a future marriage.

But of course, these are my feelings at present, as an unmarried person.

When the time actually comes, I’ll get back to you. 😉