Do I or Don’t I

It is a truth universally acknowledged that your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life.  Newlywed couples gush through their speeches; ‘I married my best friend’, ‘I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us’.

Newlywed couples gush through their speeches; ‘I married my best friend’, ‘I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us’.

A new bond, a new commitment begins. Until death do us part, right?

Perhaps, but the rise of the pre-nuptial agreement evidences a sad approach to marriage that, dare I say it, is a temptation to disaster.

Instead of the old adage; ‘do as I say and not as I do’, the reality is that brokering a pre-nuptial agreement is a case of ‘say I do, but just in case I don’t I’m prepared to leave.’

To be perfectly frank, there is no room in ‘I do’ for an escape plan.

Wedding vows are not just a public declaration of our feelings for some one else at that one moment in time. They are a public commitment to love and honour this person, through the bonds of matrimony, for the rest of our lives.

Yes, I can hear you ask: but wouldn’t it be prudent to have something in place, should the marriage break down? Sure, if you want to treat your marriage in the same way as you treat your car, that is, with the expectation that at some point in the future it will break down and you will need to replace it. And trade it in for a newer model, of course.

Pre-nuptial agreements are akin to an insurance policy, or a money back guarantee. You’re essentially saying to your spouse ‘I’m all in, until I’m done and then, I’m all out.”

Surely I’m being too harsh?

No, I don’t think so. Would my husband’s wedding vows have the same gravitas, the same sincerity and generosity, if I knew that he had a backup plan  – an escape plan in the form of a pre-nuptial agreement  – at the ready? Does his commitment to be my husband until death parts us, ring true and honest if he sees a future and permanent separation as a realistic eventuality and, further to that, has steps in place to leave if he desires?

Of course they wouldn’t.

Pre-nuptial agreements are another way for our commitment-phobic world to encourage self over the other. Marriage requires a continued, consistent and at times challenging commitment to put some one elsefirst  for the rest of our lives. Pre-nuptials encourage an easy out when the challenges hit. And they will hit, there’s no doubt about it.

When they do, who do you want by your side? A spouse who’s ready and willing to keep tinkering away at the engine, put in the miles on the road, and chip in for petrol, or a spouse who’s happy to drive away at the first roadblock, leaving you alone with an acrid taste in your mouth?

I think you get it. Yes, your co-driver is going to annoy you at times  – they’ll put the seat and the mirrors in different settings to what you prefer, their taste in music and podcasts could test your patience on more than one occasion and, worst of all, they might even get carsick! Thank goodness though for map apps  – at least there won’t be any fights over navigation!

So, by all means, discuss pre-nuptials as you consider and prepare for marriage. But don’t get sucked into the idea that you need to be prepared for a breakdown. If you keep your relationship well-oiled and remember to rotate the tyres and so on, you’ll find you didn’t need an escape plan in the first place. And yes, I promise I’m done with the mechanical metaphors now.

Invest in your marriage and your relationship, not in a pre-nuptial agreement. It’s worth it in the long run.

Written by Emily Shaw

Emily is a former ACPA award winning magazine editor. Emily shares 15 years of marriage with her husband, Ben, and is now stay at home mum of seven and freelance journalist. Emily’s work has been featured in a variety of media internationally, writing on all things faith, parenting and craft. She brings close to 20 years of experience in media — print, online and social — as well as several years in active youth ministry including three years as the Diocesan Coordinator.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *