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Is a pre-nuptial agreement all that depressing?

Prenuptial agreements or prenups, are all the rage these days now that people are getting smarter about protecting their assets.


It’s simply an agreement that each person gets to keep what they brought into the marriage at the start, be it a huge inheritance, and so on.

Other prenups include things like ‘no cheating’ clauses, or depending on the number of children you have, you can have more money out of the family trust.

You can choose to make it what you want.

(This is all stuff somewhat learned from watching fictional Charlotte York of Sex & the City get married to that impotent doctor.)


When you hear that, you think: Well… but if we’re married, shouldn’t we share in the gains AND the pain?

Sure, but when you think about a marriage being for ‘love’ and the joining of two souls into matrimonial harmony, it can all sound very business-like.

Before I can tell you why I don’t think a prenup is depressing or a damper on love, let’s talk about what marriage is.


Marriage at its core of the contract, is a joining of assets. It really isn’t about love.

(That’s what marriage is by the way, a contract.)

Marriage came about in the past because families wanted to merge their assets with other families by way of having children to marry, produce offspring and therefore be “sealed” into the deal for life as ONE, big, happy, rich family.

Love came later, when the diamond industry popped up for engagements for weddings, and celebrities like Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor flashed around a big engagement ring from Richard Burton, and there was talk of being ‘in love and getting married’.


Fast forward to today, and if you are anything like me, you love personal finance so much that you’ll watch things like Rich Bride, Poor Bride’ to have a voyeuristic look at what people spend for what is now termed to be “the biggest party of their lives”.

(I LOVE it when they do a budget recap at the end!)

The average budget for a marriage by the way, is $30,000. 30 Gs for a slammin’ bash.


I’d want one if I got married, and I’m a no-name podunk woman without millions to her name (a lot of celebrities get prenups if they’re rich so that their husbands don’t jack their fortunes).

I just think it’s fair that what I earned before, doesn’t suddenly get merged with someone else, and vice versa (although I must say that I could very well be the one with the lesser assets).

During the marriage, it doesn’t mean that we can’t share in the gains and the pains either.

I mean, if I won the lottery, I’d split it with my partner. I wouldn’t want to just tell him:


That’s just silly. It means that if a lot of money ruled how I felt and how I acted in relationship, I shouldn’t be in that particular one to begin with.

It can be easy to be rosy-cheeked and wide-eyed when walking down the aisle in a heavy, body-suffocating, $3000 dress you will never wear again, and splashing out $30,000 on a big party to celebrate it all, but sometimes you have to be practical.

Prenups make sense to me.


Marriage is not final these days. In the past, getting divorced sent shivers up everyone’s spine and even today, my parents’ generation can’t fathom getting divorced. It’s a non-issue even if the love has left the marriage.

Today, 50% of people get divorced (but one has to wonder how many get married too early or too hastily in the first place).

No, for me, the ultimate “marriage” is having a child or children, a human being who is half you, and half your partner.

There is no other bond that is more permanent that that one, for good or for worse.

I am not saying that to hurt couples who purposefully choose to be DINKS (Dual-Income No Kids), or don’t ever want to have a screaming bundle of “joy”, but it’s the way I see it.

You can still be in a marriage without kids, and be way more in love for the rest of your lives than someone who has a brood of 20 kids (and I hope you are), but if you were to separate without children, it is a lot easier than if you have an everlasting bond in common.


(Frankly, it’d be easier to be a DINK forever. No muss no fuss.)

With kids, no matter what goes right or wrong between you, you’ll have to continue dealing with your ex, your ex’s family, your kids being shuffled around on holidays, etc.

It comes with joy, but a lot of headache too. You are never really apart from your partner if you have children, they want to be in their lives as well.

So the ultimate union and “contract” deal-sealer, is not marriage, or writing on a piece of paper. It is having a permanent living bond with someone.


As a woman, I want one if I were to get married (not likely, I’m not hung up on marriage, if you haven’t already guessed it by now).

I want to be sure that things are fair and equal even in the event of separation or divorce, and all this talk about it not being romantic or loving has no bearing on my decision because I have seen and heard far too many stories of women and men who have had to deal with their fair share of CRAP from divorcing their loser partners.

I absolutely stand behind the partner who made money, having to support the other for a while after the divorce so that it’s fair and they can get back on their feet to work again, but not for 20 years or longer, and certainly not for their entire life with 50% of their pay (or more) going into their pockets for doing nothing!

I’m not heartless or mean, I would just like things to be fair for everyone.


  • Jose

    I can tell you from personal experience that everyone should have a pre-nup. It doesn’t matter how starry eyed you are now, should the stars disappear and become storm clouds, you;ll be glad you have one. If you don’t, divorce and the process is painful beyond belief if your fighting over who gets what!

  • MelD

    It’s probably wise to check the default position the law in your country of marriage/residence takes (they may not be the same!)… Some national court systems will make more effort to be fair to both spouses, in particular with regard to children, than others in the case of divorce. But I wouldn’t rely on any court sympathising with my take on what is “fair”!!

    I didn’t get a prenup because it wasn’t something many people did in 1990. Fortunately, things have worked out for me – but as it happens, neither of us had a penny to our name when we got married, anyway!! πŸ˜‰
    (It’s not all black/white, though – ever.)

  • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle

    I can understand having a prenup if one partner enters the relationship with more assets and the potential to make significantly more money but I am not sure how necessary they are for lower to middle class couples. The Canadian government have fairly clear rules for division of assets even one couple cheated and wasted all of the money.

    Debt has to be shared when marriages die in Canada too. I know I am still dealing with it.

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses

    I think pre-nups are a great thing. Honestly, half of marriages end in divorce so what’s wrong with being prepared before getting hitched?

  • anna

    I don’t think prenups are all that bad – the reality is a marriage might not work out, so you want something in place while it’s still sunshine and roses rather than have to deal with an emotional, hot mess if things go awry. I don’t think I could stomach spending $30k for a wedding, but maybe it’s because I don’t have a lot of friends πŸ˜‰

    • saverspender

      That’s just the average stat that gets thrown around. I’ve seen people spend up to $100K on the show but they invited over 500 guests…

      It adds up!

      For 200 people my friend spent $60,000. It all depends on how luxurious you want to get with your big party.

      • CorianneM

        I love watching Rich Bride, Poor Bride! I honestly had no idea people could spend *THAT MUCH* on a single event on a single day…. yes, $30,000 is more the average. There are much higher amounts on that show!

        There’s also this show about a bridal shop, and there are designer-y dresses going for $10,000! I couldn’t believe it really. I mean, if you buy designer clothing, you can at least rationalize it by cost-per-wear (really great winter coat, wear it for 4-5 months, for several years… YES. – but, designer wedding dress, wear it one day…. uh, no..)

        At least, in history, people would buy wedding clothes. It would be a nicer set of clothes that they had been wearing, but they would still wear it regularly after their wedding. People from before recent generations seem to have had a lot more sense about certain things.

  • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies

    We didn’t get a prenup, but I don’t think it was really an issue because we came in with assets on the same order of magnitude.

  • AdinaJ

    As a history buff, I enjoyed the brief discussion of marriage from a historical perspective, though I think it’s probably not going to convince many people now to change their views on marriage. There have been too many rom-coms in the meantime, LOL!

    But I would note that courts (at least in Canada) can and will find ways around a pre-nup if they feel that the circumstances justify it. Especially when there are kids involved. At the same time, long-term or indefinite spousal support is becoming less common, primarily because fewer and fewer marriages end up being long-term (20+ years) and traditional (i.e. SAHM, high-earning husband) – and those tend to be the kind of situations where spousal support is a big factor. There are always exceptions, of course … everybody knows a horror story or two πŸ˜‰

    • saverspender

      I’m not looking to change anyone’s minds πŸ™‚ I am just wondering why people are so hung up on pretending marriage is not a contract.

      Always comes down to kids! They last longer than a piece of paper πŸ™‚ (And are cuter to boot.)

      I’d agree with courts finding ways around pre-nup. Every situation is different, by all means.. they should all try to get what they think is fair. I know at least 3 horror stories which have scarred me… not for life, but they certainly make me very cautious.

      I know guys who wouldn’t marry their girlfriends because of those above situations. Made me wonder why they were still with them if they wouldn’t consider marrying them (with or without a prenup, I know both cases), yet they were ALL willing to have kids and ended up skinned alive when they separated. The wife took them for all they were worth.

  • Paula

    Are you suggesting that romantic love matches started with Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor? I hope not.

    And what generation are your parents that divorce is unthinkable? Half of my parents’ friends are divorced. (I’m in my 30s.)

    “No, for me, the ultimate β€œmarriage” is having a child or children, a human being who is half you, and half your partner.”

    Well, marriage means the state of being united to a person as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. It has nothing to do with kids.

    • saverspender

      I am not saying that romantic love matches started with Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. I am using them as examples. Not all arranged marriages in the past didn’t result in love, but it wasn’t meant for love in the first place.

      My parents are Boomers, and it’s a cultural thing to NOT be divorced, even if your husband beats you, which is something I don’t agree with, but I know is true for them.

      I understand what you’re saying, but even with your statistic of knowing a lot of people who are divorced, can you really argue and say that having a written piece of paper or a contract of “marriage”, prevented them from divorcing?

      No, you can’t.

      What might stop people from divorce or thinking about divorce (actually they should think hard about the marriage in the first place), is when they have kids.

      Philosophically speaking, a real union or “contract” between a person that can’t be broken is when you have a kid with them. It’s a lifelong contract, versus a piece of paper with some writing on it saying that you will be with each other “til death do you part”.

      That piece of paper doesn’t stop anyone from divorcing. It’s easy to go your separate ways and separate lives without having children in common.

      My point is that children are the physical bond to hold 2 strangers together. Not assets (impersonal) and not a piece of paper.

  • tomatoketchup

    I would never get married without a prenup. Current girlfriend and past serious girlfriends were all aware of that and fine with it. Once kids are thrown into the mix, it all changes, but if both parties are calling it quits and there’s no kid involved, I see no reason why someone else should be entitled to any portion of the bank account and retirement funds that I busted my ass to acquire.

    • saverspender

      I’d agree with this. I feel the same way even if my partner has (and does have) the same money values. Kids can still benefit from both parents in terms of assets, that doesn’t change.

  • Kim

    I can understand prenups when it comes to no cheating clauses or more complex arrangements about contingencies based on how many children you have and what not, but I don’t really get the argument about needing a prenup to protect what you brought into the marriage (assets, inheritances, etc.) in the event of a divorce. My understanding is when a couple divorces, it is only the “marital property” (meaning stuff you made while you were together) is divided up. But everything you had BEFORE you were married remains 100% yours after a divorce. I could be wrong, but that was my very general understanding of the law.

    • saverspender

      I always thought it was anything even before you were married, has to be divided up if there is no prenup. Like 50% of their retirement fund, etc.

      I like the idea of a prenup anyway, because even for the years of marriage, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to rob one partner blind of their income to support “the lifestyle the other partner was accustomed to” for as long as the marriage was in effect.

      I support the idea of helping them out for a certain period of time to get back on their feet and get a job after being out of the workforce or whatnot, but I’ve heard many divorce settlements where the wife or husband made their fortune off divorcing their partners. Incidentally, it is also the way many women become rich from what I read.

      • femmefrugality

        The state you attain assets in OR file divorce in(along with the judge, if you go to court) determines which assets are split up how. Different states can be extremely different from each other.

        Loving this article. A dialogue on the actual history of marriage is much needed in our society, I’m finding.

        One of the worst decisions not to get a pre-nup ever: Jessica Simpson when she married Nick Lachey.

        • saverspender

          Thanks for clarifying. I knew there was something but until you said that, the episode of The Good Wife (Chum Hum marrying a fiancΓ©e) didn’t play in my head.

          What I see is a society that thinks marriage is beautiful and only about love. It is about that today in society but not at all in the past (look at royals marrying each other from different countries in history! Do we really think they loved each other?)

          That is partly true but marriage is a real deal, a real contract and if people married let’s say their business partners to join businesses and assets, they might get cold feet a lot more often.

      • StackingCash

        Gold diggers! Many here in Las Vegas…

        I took a chance on my wife, I had a great deal of assets (compared to my low income) while she had none. I thought I was being generous by giving her a car and a credit card but she wanted her name on my house and bank accounts too. I fearfully complied. So far so good πŸ™‚ Whew!

      • Kim

        I totally agree with all of that. I’ve also heard of my fair share of divorce horror stories with the ex-wife living for free off of her husband even though they have long since divorced. It’s terrible.

        But I’m still pretty sure that when courts are dividing up property during a divorce, one of the first things they do is determine what is “separate property” and what is “marital property.” So property owned by either spouse before the marriage is not considered. Only “marital property” gets divvied up among the parties. So, for example, whatever you had in your retirement account before marriage is still yours. Whatever you earned into your retirement account during marriage is considered marital property. Obviously family law is a state issue and there is a lot of variation, but very generally speaking assets that are your own before marriage would remain that way unless you specifically co-mingle them (like by adding your spouse’s name to a house or something).

        Anyway, I agree with you. I think when people first get married, they mostly have love and romance on the mind. But it really is sort of like a business relationship. Something that becomes painfully clear during a divorce.

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