Can Prenups Be Romantic?
(MONEY Magazine) – During dinner with friends a few years ago, Arlene Dubin mentioned that she and her second husband had a prenuptial agreement. Her friends were shocked. "They were like, 'Oh, my God. I thought you loved each other!'" she recalls.
That incident, on top of a messy divorce years earlier, inspired the New York City family law practitioner to write Prenups for Lovers: A Romantic Guide to Prenuptial Agreements, due out just before Valentine's Day. Our reporter, an old-fashioned romantic, spoke with Dubin recently.
Q. So I'm sitting in a fancy restaurant with my girlfriend and pop the question. Wouldn't it ruin the moment if I added "...pending attorney review of our prenup"?
A. You're not having a romantic fling. You want to build a real relationship and partnership. The way to do that is to bring everything out into the open.
Q. But why put it on paper?
A. People are disorganized. A document gives the agreement real structure. Otherwise you tend to hear what you want to hear.
Q. Okay, we put the agreement on paper and tuck it in a box on the mantle, right?
A. Actually, I advocate each party hiring a lawyer.
Q. But won't sitting down with lawyers before the wedding kill the romance?
A. It's really going to kill the romance if you haven't worked out money issues in advance. There's a spiritual union, yes, and it's very important. But a marriage is also a financial union.
Q. Isn't love about leaping blindly together into the abyss?
A. Talking about money can actually bring you closer together. People find it harder to talk about money than any other subject. Once you get it going it opens up all sorts of other stuff. When you start to talk about your finances for a prenup, you look at whether you have compatible attitudes about money in general. That could save you a lot of grief when you're married.
Q. So how do I approach the subject with her?
A. I discuss that in detail in the book. You lead up to it; you don't just say, "Come here, snookums, I have something for you to sign."