How Prenups Can Help Your Post-Wedding Life

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Rich in Relationship is pleased to provide this guest post by Meghan Freed, Esq., co-founder of award-winning divorce and family law firm Freed Marcroft. According to Unfinished Man, “Connecticut-based lawyer Meghan Freed is nationally known for her perspective that divorce is an opportunity for transformation, and her views can help her clients keep a positive perspective throughout the challenges they are facing.”

Life After the Wedding

My trusted colleague Relationship coach Richard Heller – who, along with his spouse the wonderful New York Divorce Attorney Katherine Miller, also happens to be my friend – wrote an excellent blog post here called “Life After the Wedding.”  In it, Rich describes a couple, Samantha and Simon, who lived together before they got married.  It went so well that they decided to get married.  But Samantha and Simon found that everything changed after they got married, as they started taking on the roles of “husband” and “wife.”  Rich explains that marriage “comes with all kinds of ideas about who a husband/wife is and how they act….  In the moment they said their vows, each individual’s value system, life experiences, concepts, and principles all shifted and altered.”  This is exactly why prenups can help your post-wedding life

In other words, Samantha and Simon had very different understandings of what it means to be a spouse – and they didn’t even realize it. 

Here’s Rich’s apt prescription:

“Preparing for the change that the marriage commitment inevitably drives involves exploring generational ideas about marriage. Also, establishing a shared vision. Exploring values and principles. Not to mention gaining clarity on how each individual will manage changes in each other and the relationship as they inevitably occur. Last but not least, a shared understanding of what love is and how to apply it to life. These will ultimately be what carries couples through the relationship transitions of life after the wedding and beyond.”

Healthy Relationships and How Prenups Can Help Your Post-Wedding Life

Involving an experienced and insightful relationship coach like Rich before you marry is crucial to setting yourself up for these meaningful discussions about your individual worldviews.

In addition, though – and I know it may sound counter-intuitive at first – prenuptial agreements are one way to foster the conversation that Rich prescribes.  The discussions accompanying prenups are an essential window into both individuals’ concepts of marriage and their respective roles as spouses.  For example, what are their values about money and assets?  About the division of labor?  About what constitutes fairness?  All this is raised during prenup discussions.  

To take it to the next level – use mediation or collaboration to create your prenup.  They provide a structure to support real, honest dialogue about cultural defaults and foundational understandings, enhancing the work the two of you are doing with your relationship coach or counselor.

Legal Aspects of Marriage

When he wrote about Samantha and Simon, Rich explained that they entered into “I do” without considering the full impact of those two words.  Rich was primarily talking about their beliefs about the meaning of marriage and assuming the role of “spouse.”  Another important impact we see people miss when they get married is the legal agreement you’re making.  When you marry, you opt into a slew of laws that most couples don’t consider.  Some of them impact your duties to your spouse during your marriage – others relate to what happens should you divorce.

For some, this is the equivalent of signing a contract without reading it.  For many others, it’s like signing a contract without realizing you’re signing a contract.

How do you understand what you’re agreeing to when considering marriage?  Solo or with your fiancé, meet with a family law attorney and get the lay of the land.  They can generally explain how things tend to work so that you have the necessary information. 

Opting Out of the Legal Default for Divorce Via a Prenups Can Help Your Post-Wedding Life

What if you don’t like what you hear?  In other words, what if state divorce law doesn’t meet your and your spouse’s shared values? Should your marriage end?  The answer in many cases, again, is a prenuptial agreement.  Prenups allow you and your spouse to design what it would look like should the two of you decide to end your marriage.  How do you want to treat your spouse and honor the relationship you had?  How do you want to be treated?  In a prenuptial agreement, you can pre-decide for yourselves how alimony and the division of assets would work.  You can also honor your relationship by agreeing to resolve your divorce via mediation or collaborative divorce.  Plus, the existence of a prenup alone tends to support a more amicable divorce.

Conclusion: Empowerment & Prenups

In conclusion, as we reflect on Samantha and Simon’s story in “Life After the Wedding,” it becomes clear that preparing for the journey of marriage is just as important as the wedding itself.   Incorporating an experienced relationship coach like Rich into your pre-marriage journey can be instrumental in initiating these vital discussions about your individual worldviews. However, another unexpected tool for fostering such conversations is the prenuptial agreement. Couples gain insights into each other’s concepts of marriage and their roles as spouses by engaging in these conversations during the prenup process.

Plus, marrying entails opting into a web of legal agreements that too often go unconsidered by couples. An experienced family law attorney in your state can help you understand these legal obligations in advance, so you know the legal significance(s) of what you’re entering into.  Finally, suppose you learn that the legal default for divorce doesn’t align with your shared values as a couple. In that case, a prenuptial agreement can empower you and your spouse to design the terms of your divorce, honor the relationship you shared, and encourage a more amicable divorce should you choose to end your marriage at some point in the future. 

Life after the wedding is a journey filled with opportunities for growth and understanding. A well-structured prenuptial agreement can serve as a bridge to facilitate essential conversations and empower couples like Samantha and Simon to navigate the complexities of marriage and divorce with clarity, respect, and a shared sense of purpose. It is a tool that not only safeguards financial interests but also fosters open communication, ultimately strengthening the foundation of a healthy and enduring marriage.