Ten years ago, as a journalist on a wedding magazine, if someone had asked me about prenuptial agreements I'd have told them they'd been watching too much TV. In this country, thankfully, the pre-nup was barely worth the paper it was written on. It was happily ensconced in the big apple, a legal agreement enabling the divorcing rich and famous to hang on to their mountains of cash.
Now though, rather depressingly, this is headed our way. Couples who want to make provision for a possible divorce will be able to decide who's going to get what before they even say 'I do'.
I'm always one for moving forward but to me this is a step in the wrong direction. Isn't planning the demise of a marriage before we even sign the register a recipe for disaster? Without question, if my husband-to-be had suggested we put together a pre-nup, I'd have torn up the invites and scoffed the wedding cake. Surely we should all be entering in to marriage with absolute commitment to make it work, putting our best feet forward and working through any challenges together. I'm no idealist, I know life isn't a bed of roses, but if you set out with a suggestion of failure in your mind, you're increasing the likelihood that the marriage will, indeed, fail. Just when do you have that chat? I know we covered all the important stuff - whether we wanted to have children and what we'd like our lives to be like - but we've never discussed divorce.
A colleague of mine very sensibly pointed out that the prenuptial agreement is simply a form of insurance, protecting ourselves against an unknown future. Hmmm... to me, insurance protects us from things we have no control over. We're insured if a tile falls off the roof or the pipes burst, but we have control over our marriage. It's not a toaster that needs a guarantee or a business partnership that requires legal backing. It's a relationship, a partnership, and it should be equal. When my husband said 'for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer', I'm sure it didn't end with 'but if we split up, all the cash is mine'. The second we got married, everything became 'ours' and we both work towards whatever is best for our family. My career took a back seat when our children were born but that's fine - it doesn't matter if one of us brings home more bacon than the other because it's all... ours. Hopefully, our marriage will stand the test of time but if it doesn't, we'll each get our share. And yes, divorce is messy and division is hard, but should it ever be easy?
Of course, there will always be situations where the presence of a pre-nup averts a disaster - perhaps where a marriage is short-lived and one party suffers financially for it. Nothing is ever quite black and white. But, I still believe this gloomy agreement will damage more relationships than it aids.
If you're just not sure whether you trust someone enough to marry them, perhaps it's simple - don't tie the knot.