When I had my kids, I bought ipecac syrup to keep in the medicine cabinet on the off chance that one of them might swallow something potentially fatal. Twenty years later, the bottle's still there, its seal unbroken, my heart full of thanks. We hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Like any halfway intelligent person, we pay our insurance premiums, get our mammograms, fasten our seat belts, and go through life.
So what is it about a prenuptial agreement that sends the perfectly rational among us into a giant, collective cringe?
The evidence for their usefulness, accrued in countless lawyerly tomes and how-tos since the 1980s, is overwhelming. We know that, in the U.S., half of all marriages will end in divorce. We know that none of those newlywed couples beaming with promise from the wedding pages dream a split is in their future. We know that when things go awry in an intimate relationship, they can go from harrowing to hideous, overnight. And we know that under the cold, steely gaze of the law, fairness can be reduced to a fairy tale.
And yet, when one person in the relationship brings up the notion of a prenuptial agreement, it's like, well, offering up a shot of ipecac even though there's no poison in sight. "You find yourself wondering, 'Well, if we're talking about a prenup, then why are we getting married?'" says one newly engaged woman, who has had a few tense conversations with her fiancé about the subject. "If you're looking for an escape hatch, then let's not do it."
It's important to overcome the awkwardness of the discussion and establish a prenuptial in many cases, because not doing it can lead to much worse thing than awkwardness later on.
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