Community + Relationships

How (and When) to Talk about Prenups

  • Timing is everything. Before bringing up the idea of a prenup, make sure you and your partner are both in a good mood and have time and energy for an in-depth discussion
  • Communication skills (just like in your day job) are critical to a successful conversation. Make sure to listen as well as you express yourself
  • Chances are, a talk about prenups won’t be a one-and-done conversation. Be prepared for an ongoing discussion

Cake tasting, shopping for your registry, planning a honeymoon – there’s a lot of fun involved in planning a marriage.

Having a conversation about a prenuptial agreement? Well … that’s another story. Even divorce lawyers would rather not imagine going through separations of their own.

While prenups aren’t for everyone, at least discussing the pros and cons of whether they make sense should be on the docket for every couple. Here’s how to broach what is often a thorny conversation.

Timing is Key

Just like any difficult conversation, it’s best to present the idea of a prenup when you and your partner are both in a good, calm mood and have the time and energy for an in-depth discussion. But timing this talk also matters in the larger scheme of things: Most experts agree it’s important to bring up prenups early in the marriage planning process. In fact, some even suggest bringing up the topic before you’re engaged, just to see if you’re both on the same page – however, we know that’s not realistic for every couple.

Don’t Dance Around the Issue

Look, we get it: It’s awkward. Even if you’re a divorce lawyer, things are very different when you’re discussing your own relationship. That said, it’s crucial to be clear about why you’re bringing up the subject and what you hope to get out of the conversation. However, it’s also important to remember that the best way to propose the idea of a prenup is through a conversation (perhaps the first of many – more on that below), and not an opportunity to make demands.

Blame Someone Else

Are you really dreading the conversation? It can help to take the onus off yourself by blaming someone else. What we mean by that is, whether or not your mother or your attorney told you to get a prenup, there’s no harm in saying they did to get the discussion started. Explaining that someone else encouraged you to bring up the topic takes the pressure off a little bit and gives you a convenient way to get the conversation started. That said, the white lies in this process begin and end here; once you get the discussion started, it’s critical to be honest about what you want to get out of it.

Don’t Get Angry

You might not get the response you want from your partner when you initiate the conversation. Try rehearsing a couple of ways to calmly discuss the issue.

You might not get a favorable response at all. No matter what, though, it’s important to keep cool. If your partner reacts in an unfavorable or unexpected way, the best thing you can do is to listen as they explain why. We mentioned above that it’s important to be straightforward when broaching the subject; it’s just as important to listen when your partner shares their views. This is yet another way in which communications skills are critical to any marriage – you need to hear your partner and your partner needs to hear you.

Be Ready for Round 2

Chances are, you’re not going to go from “bringing up the idea of a prenup” to having everything drawn up and signed in a day. (But hey, kudos if you do.) Be ready to have the discussion again, perhaps after you both have some time to consider each other’s thoughts on the matter. It’s also possible to go in together on creating the document – especially since at least one of you practices law.

Prenups aren’t necessary for every couple, but they do make sense for many lawyers. Especially if you supported your partner through law school (or vice versa), or one of you enters the relationship with significant assets, it’s best to at least examine the pros and cons of a prenup for your relationship. The good news? The best way to start is with a simple conversation, and you’re now armed with the know-how to begin.