Archive for September 5th, 2015

Pre-nups and pragmatism, oh my

The topics do sort of run downhill together, don’t they? One just leads into the other.

Thene mentioned something about marriage and permanence and the thought brought pre-nups to mind. Whereupon we move into yet another question of pragmatism versus cynicism.

At this point in time, I think I’d definitely want to sign one if I were to marry. Getting out of my previous relationship was complicated by financial matters and that’s something I never want to revisit. It was by turns hurtful and humiliating.

Further in those thoughts, I think some of my friends were surprised when we learned that another of my friends, X, had signed a pre-nup involving such clauses as  a bride piece, being paid/awarded for having children, and if I recall correctly, even a bonus for how much time they’d been together. Some of them were openly dismissive if not outright opposed to the notion.

Unpacking various aspects of the idea, keeping in mind that the majority of my thoughts is going to boil down to “society sucks, so a person saying that future hubby is just going to have to suck it up and share the spoils is fair” :

- the bride piece makes sense if you consider that in certain cultures, even today, a divorcee is considered to be less attractive than a similarly prospected woman who had never been married. In another way of looking at it, a man usually gets more promotions and higher raises than he would have otherwise once he’s married. I don’t think it’s particularly unfair to request a cut of the wealth. So I wouldn’t say no to one, but it’s not something that I’d ask for in a pre-nup.

- consider the “mommy penalty” for having children, being awarded money for having children makes perfect sense. It’s not just the financial aspects of it either, but a woman can have health complications arise from having children. In a way, I see it as a pre-negotiated sharing of the various consequences of having children that aren’t usually adequately addressed. Definitely wouldn’t say no to this clause and I’m unsure that I wouldn’t bring it up.

- Bonuses for amount of time spent together. At the moment I can’t really think of anything to justify this, so it’s something I wouldn’t ask for and probably wouldn’t want even if someone offered. I can see the rationale – a woman’s worth as considered by society is based off her youth and therefore the pre-nup assigns a value to her time spent. Also, the longer a man is married, the more respectable he’s seen to be. Not completely unfair to request a bit of that pie, but again, not something I really can throw myself behind.

All of the above really boils down to a simple notion: the protection of a woman’s interests after the man she married no longer cares about her well-being. And you know what? I’m very not-surprisingly completely in favor of that.

I’ve seen way too many tragedies occur because a woman who was a stay at home wife or mother was dicked over after a divorce. I myself have felt a shadow of what it is like to be without recourse for what was owed me after a relationship ended.

My aunt is still with her husband after she caught him cheating on her in their bed because of money. Another aunt remained with her cheating husband, even after he told her that he didn’t care if she and their babies lived or died while she was on bedrest for a problematic pregnancy, because of money. My grandmother never divorced my grandfather despite his many, many abuses and infidelities… because of money. I know women who stay with men who aren’t good for them… because of money.

I don’t think it’s unfair at all to try and negotiate the care of the more disadvantaged spouse ahead of hand, while you still love each other and presumably care about each other well-being. And I use those particular words very carefully: if I were the bread-winner and my husband wanted to be the one to stay at home to take care of the children, I’d be perfectly in favor of putting money into an account for him so he wouldn’t have to ask me for money for his own stuff. Being a house-spouse can be a part-time job to full time job depending and being a stay at home parent pretty much is a full time job. It’s perfectly legit to be recompensed for such.

Sure, it’s nearing the end of 2015 and it would be nice to think that society doesn’t suck that much, that people wouldn’t suck that much after things have been broken off that they wouldn’t take care of their obligations, but that’s just not fact at the moment. I’d be perfectly happy to revisit and revise should that change, but I don’t think it is going to in the near future.

Especially since I’m living in Taiwan at the moment; the situation here really makes me wonder why anyone would get married without a pre-nup. Heaven knows the horror stories abound: one aunt had to save pennies off the grocery money to buy underwear because her husband was so tight-fisted.

And then, of course, there are the basics:

Things that I would definitely want addressed in a pre-nup at this point: clarification that there is to be no shared debt; specifications on what happens to a shared home/vehicle in the case of divorce; separation of any income post marriage, none of that community property stuff; child support; child care; and custody of children.