Take back the prenup

Mention the word “prenup” to a group of engaged, happily dating or even single women in America and a collective shudder will run down their spines.  Prenups are unromantic, someone will almost surely say. Why ruin the happiest time in your relationship by planning its eventual demise?

Prenups (short for “prenuptial agreements”) used to be limited to the rich and famous.  Recently, the tide has shifted.  Along with rising divorce rates starting in the 1970s, the popularity of prenups has also gone up. Adding fuel to that fire are the countless articles online instructing men about the best way to ask their fiancee to sign a prenup, including helpful tips such as ‘warning her early’ and ‘paying for her lawyer’.  The discussion surrounding prenups is predominantly geared towards men, with women portrayed as the unwilling, impractical and stubborn side of the equation.

I want to start off by dismissing the notion that prenups are ‘unromantic’.  They are one of the most romantic things you can do with the person you love.  If you sacrifice your career to stay at home with the kids, a prenup can dictate fair compensation so you aren’t left saddled with children and a rising pile of bills while you try to get back to work or school in the wake of a divorce. If you pay for part of your spouse’s education, a prenup can dictate that you receive a portion or even all of that money back.

Furthermore, just because you have a prenup doesn’t mean you’re eventually going to get divorced.  It doesn’t make getting divorced ‘easier’ in the long term. Sure, there’s now a ream of paper sitting in a filing cabinet saying how it’s all going to go down in the event that happily ever after turns into a situation worthy of a daytime soap.  But it doesn’t shield you from the emotional fallout, for you or for any potential little ones unwittingly involved in the situation.

The notion that prenups are only for men is antiquated; it’s from a time when men worked and women stayed home, when men controlled the finances, when men were the one starting companies and working as investment bankers.  We still haven’t reached complete gender equality (and I’m doubtful if we ever will) but women, do you really think that there is nothing that you own in this life that is worth protecting in the event of a divorce?

You’re now just as likely to write that bestselling novel, found the next Twitter or Facebook or become a high-powered attorney, banker or doctor.  A prenup doesn’t just protect your future husband.  It also protects you.

Take control of your assets, current and future, by sitting down with a lawyer.  Take back the prenup.

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22. Become more emotionally aware/mature

“We must be our own before we can be another’s.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve always gotten a lot of comfort from quotes.  Someone, maybe a long time ago, maybe in a place far away from me and in a social position way different from mine, put pen to paper and summed up thoughts that might have taken me two thousand words to explain in just a few sentences (or shorter.)  So I’m going to be working through number twenty-two on my list through quotes, by deconstructing and reinterpreting them in the context of my own life.

You have to love yourself first.  I’ve heard that a lot since I was a teenager and my gut reaction was always yeah, I guess I love myself, check that one off the list!  This Emerson quote is a more elegant way of saying the same thing: be comfortable in your own skin before you bring someone else into your life.  It’s always seemed like a good relationship ‘prerequisite’ to me, but only recently did I realize that it’s essential.

First, realizing that I’m worthy of being loved and am, in fact, completely desirable.  My teenage years were awkward; I was used to being considered ‘weird’ and that’s something it took me a long time to grow out of.  But finally I woke up and realized that I can shape my life into whatever I want.  I can be a vegetarian, can run a few miles every day, bake, dance, read.  I can be a person that I would find attractive and worthy.  And, in becoming that person, I gained a sense of confidence and independence that made me unwilling to settle for anyone less.

Right now I think my self confidence is at an all-time high.  I DO love myself and in turn I’m able to take better care of myself than I have in the past.  I’ve shed most destructive behaviors and significantly dialed back the negative voice in my head insisting that I can never change.

I like to think of it in cliche, Oprah-esque terms: I’m dating myself.  I love my own company.  I love looking good, being in shape, engaging in activities that make me happy.  I don’t need to be in a relationship right now.  Would it be nice?  Yeah, definitely!  But I’m content to wait for someone who is my equal, who complements my personality and pushes me to succeed.  I know what I want and more importantly, I know that when I meet him I’ll feel like I deserve all the wonderful things to come.