#42 Don't let pre-nup wreck relationship / Next time tell man up front

Dear Ann Landers: I am 23 years old and have been dating "Charles" for eight months. We are quite serious and contemplating marriage.

After a heartfelt conversation yesterday, Charles informed me that his parents expect his bride to sign a prenuptial agreement, which would bar me from recovering any property he inherits from his parents if we divorce. I believe prenuptial agreements cheapen the act of marriage and create a "backup" plan for divorce. I do not want to marry someone knowing my beloved expects the marriage to not last.

Charles insists this isn't personal. He said that any woman he marries would have to sign it. I love Charles with all my heart, but I don't want money ruling our lives. What should I do? —NOT SURE IN MARYLAND

Dear Not Sure: If the point of the prenuptial agreement is to protect the family heirlooms, you should not object. It is understandable that Charles' parents want to make sure precious and sentimental items remain in the family. Don't let their worries wreck your relationship. However, before signing anything, I recommend talking to a lawyer to be sure there are no surprises. —ANN

Gabby's Response:

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Gabby’s Response:

Hi Not Sure: I don't get "Not sure." It sounds to me as though you have firm convictions. It's unlikely that you will be able to change Charles' mind and it appears no one can change yours. Both positions are founded upon the lifetime experiences of two families. Both equally right, reasonable, and justifiable.

You are fortunate to have discovered this lesson now. There are things you were supposed to have learned from your family, high school sociology classes, friends, and dates. It looks to me as though you aimed out of your social class. People with heirlooms have different viewpoints about many things as do romanticists and idealists.

You are absolutely right about prenuptial agreements being a plan for possible situational/relationship changes. However, many who have been there would say that your position reveals a naiveté about marriage, and that your arrogance begs to be humiliated. You ignore the fact that millions and millions of other marriages have failed. You honestly believe that somehow you are better and more capable. I know of no parachutist who jumps without a reserve yet none would say they "expect" an accident, they are just willing to look at the possibilities, something you have resisted.

Most all divorced couples will tell you of the profound love and sense of commitment they had at the beginning. Millions will also tell you what happened to their  possessions as a consequence of an acrimonious divorce. You honestly think the nastiness, spite, and greed is out there, that it's not within you to want to hurt another by making them pay for your inability to effect mutually satisfying communication.

Charles says, "...his parents expect his bride..." His is an irresponsible statement, a dump. It's one of several red flags. A person who communicates responsibly would have said, "My parents and I want you to sign.... If you agree then we all would like to talk with your parents to make sure they also can agree to this stipulation." The way he presented it to you, by blaming his parents, was partly because he didn't want to experience the embarrassment and uncomfortableness that comes from having to acknowledge (own) such a position. It is a communication of distrust.* However, you created his distrust, he is simply mirroring your presentation (continue reading).

Here's another red flag: A responsible honorable man would have brought up the pre-nup stipulation up front, most certainly before sex. It's possible he uses his family's financial status as a hook. It's just not responsible to dump such problems in the lap of someone who's not used to handling wealth. For him to be dating outside his social circle suggests that he's got control issues (some successful men choose younger relatively unsuccessful women, women they can control and dominate rather than choose an equal). My guess is that he's going against his parent's wishes—marrying outside his class. For him to thwart his parents means that you'd possibly inherit the abuse of the family's in-fighting. The potential for one or both parents to psychically hex the marriage, to be right, is enormous. Never underestimate the power of a parent's nonverbal intention for their child's relationship to fail, because he/she didn't listen. They may know you better than you know you; quite possibly they knew that the way to get rid of you was for him to insist on the pre-nup requirement. One usually doesn't acquire/sustain wealth without being able to read others. Notice they didn't advise him, "Now be careful how you present the pre-nup requirement, don't scare her, she's a jewel."

It's clear to me that what you have been up to is discovering just what qualities you want in a partner. The clearer you become without actually marrying the more harmonious the marriage.

Remember, there is something about you that attracted this man. You say you don't want a relationship to be about money yet here you are arguing about it. Acknowledging this lie now can save you lots of grief. My sense is that you will need to resolve all sorts of money issues before you'll have no arguments about money. Eight months and only now this important topic comes up? This indicates that you have been withholding lots of thoughts from him, a sure way to destroy a relationship.

You don't mention your profession but it definitely is a consideration. If say, you elected to not apply yourself during high school—with idea of being financially independent before marrying—then it's possible you planned to seduce a financially successful man to take care of you. Such a power-source relationship curriculum is equally noble to any other profession and awesomely challenging; it requires that one study the subject of intercourse at the level of PhD (communication, leadership, support, service) all far advanced beyond any high school or college courses. The measure of success with such a curriculum is if your husband and children are healthy, happy, and prospering.

It's possible his parents know him better than you do because they, appropriately, don't trust him. They know his patterns, in part because he mirrors them. They intuit that he might bring someone into the clan who will refuse to surrender to his/their power-source leadership-communication model (most often matriarchal) —someone who might believe in equality. i.e. Many men simply can't/won't acknowledge that their financial success and health mirrors their spouse's support, clearing, and coaching skills, the very space that empowers him to do well; come divorce-time such a man is shocked to discover that his wife expects half of everything they  worked for.

For a wealthy partner to marry a not wealthy partner and create a true equal partnership the rich one must be willing to let go of all he/she has accumulated. If and when they divorce the former "poor" person would, because it's the ethical thing to do, refuse to accept any of their partner's pre-marriage wealth. This is a code of ethics this "poor" person always lived by, one that would be in effect prior to the marriage regardless of whether or not there was a pre-nup.  In that way the "poor" partner could be absolutely certain they didn't marry to get some of the wealth.  And, during the marriage, the wealthy person would support the former "poor" partner in accumulating enough independent wealth so as to not have to stay married for financial survival. If both partners operated from integrity then pre-nups would not be necessary.

It would work for you to let men know up front where you stand on this and other important issues (see our Relationships Tutorial—conversations to have with your steady/fiancé). Be sure to let your parents, friends, and most importantly, future dates, know what happened with Charles. Show them all this letter. Someone who knows you might shed more light about this for you. Possibly someone has withheld the thought that they think you're a "gold digger." It could be that your aura is karmically carrying around an incomplete, one in which another would say that you used them.

Complete your relationship with Charles. Even if you cleared up the pre-nup issue you would find something else wrong with him. You need to destroy a few more relationships so as to get to know you and the way things are.

Lastly, read, Creating a marriage vow that precludes cheating.

Thank you for your letter, it will be of value to many. —Gabby

* I know someone who married a former Nun, a woman who retired after living many years in a Catholic convent. Having met her I know it would have been an unthinkable effrontery to ask this honorable person who has mastered service to sign a pre-nup. For all intents and purposes it was an honor for the family to have such a person choose to marry their son. My point being, neither your fiancé nor his family think of you as being incapable of adversarial tactics; your aura reveals too many unacknowledged perpetrations.  There is something about your presentation, your leadership-communication skills, that causes doubt. Integrity is an aura thing, a countenance, as with a Nun it can be experienced, it's palpable.  If you intend to work on your integrity visit The Clearing House and do The Clearing Process, one clearing per day for 25 days in a row. Upon completion friends will acknowledge that you look younger, wholesome, and more trustworthy.

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 2/3/13)

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