Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

After seven years of dating (since my junior year of college) and one year of being engaged, my fiance just brought up a prenup. Both of us have advanced degrees, but he’s in finance and I work in public-interest law. I am significantly less financially secure than he is and will make significantly less in my career.

But we’ve always functioned like a team. We’ve both made moves and career decisions for each other. He’s my best friend. I’m really hurt.

Our wedding is only a month and a half out and this feels very rushed to me. We both have said we would never get divorced (and after eight happy years together, I truly believe we’ll make it), but his phrasing is that he analyzes risk for a living and just wants to be extra secure that in the unlikely event of divorce, he is prepared.

I think that even having a prenup opens the door to divorce and don’t understand why, if he says he doesn’t believe in divorce, he’d request one. This feels like the biggest breach in our relationship ever. Advice? Am I being ridiculous? Is he?

Prenup or not?

Prenups are wise and necessary in some (very narrowly defined) cases, and I can see why this request for one rubs you the wrong way. In the event of a divorce, a decent person won’t expect a nickel more than what’s fair from the other person. So he’s essentially saying that, should you and he divorce, he doesn’t trust you to be that fair player. I.e., he needs to be “extra secure” to protect himself from you. If that’s the case, why is he marrying you? And, alternately, why wouldn’t he want you to get your fair share?

If that’s an accurate reflection of the way you feel, please articulate that for him.

Side notes: Just because you both say so doesn’t mean you won’t ever divorce. Also, it’s not unusual for people who don’t “believe in” divorce to become believers courtesy of an unexpected twist.

Re: Prenups:

I have to absolutely disagree. Prenups are smart. It’s always smart to be prepared for the worst. You wear a seat belt not because you’re counting on getting in an accident but just because. Prenups are the same thing.


That’s a false equivalency, car accident to divorce. Divorce behavior is all choice.

I maintain that a decent person won’t take a soon-to-be ex to the cleaners, nor will a decent person try to deny a soon-to-be ex the financial settlement to which s/he is entitled. If you think your intended has the capacity to behave outside the bounds of decency in the event of a divorce, then don’t marry him or her.

I think a prenup is smart if you have financial entanglements that go beyond what is yours alone — for example, family interests to protect, or children from a prior marriage, etc. In this case, they’re talking about income each would bring to the marriage while married. How is he arguing against fair distribution of that in the event of a split?

T omorrow: More on prenups, but only if you sign here first.

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