Prenuptial agreements tend to have a bad reputation, especially among Christians. To many, a “prenup” represents all the ugly aspects of our divorce-laden culture and reduces marriage to nothing more than a business transaction.
And while I recognize that our culture is too flippant about divorce and far, far too concerned about money, Christians should not be so quick to reject prenuptial agreements.
Russell Moore, for instance, has stated that a prenuptial agreement is “completely outside the Christian vision of marriage” because it “assumes a contractual rather than a covenantal view of marriage.” This sounds good, I’ll admit, but there’s no reason to reduce marriage to either a covenant or a contract. There are certainly covenantal aspects to a marriage, and marriage does transcend the parties as individuals. Marriage is a covenant—of course it is!—but it is also a contract. It is a legal relationship between two people that involves really important things like money and kids.
Dave Ramsey has similarly rejected prenuptial agreements as “planning your divorce in advance.” Moore goes further and argues that the kind of thinking that would prompt one to draft a prenuptial agreement actually encourages divorce: “A couple that begins preparing for the possibility of divorce is headed toward it.”
Instead of rejecting prenuptial agreements outright, however, I think the better approach is to carefully consider how we might actually use them to strengthen marriage. In some sense, then, we should “redeem” prenuptial agreements.
A carefully crafted prenuptial agreement could serve to strengthen a marriage in the following ways:
1. It’s ordinarily pretty easy to get divorced. A couple could use a prenuptial agreement to set out what they believe to be valid reasons for divorce and make the property division less favorable for any party that pursues a divorce for a non-valid reason. This makes a divorce a much less attractive option.
2. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, each party must disclose all of his and her assets. Obviously it’s best that a couple would be completely transparent with each other without any help, but the prenuptial agreement forces them to be. This would help both the parties know that they are on the same page regarding financial matters.
3. A couple could use a prenuptial agreement to force a legal separation period before filing for divorce. The prenuptial agreement might also require counseling (and you could choose the type of counseling) during this time to encourage reconciliation.
If you would like more information on how to use a prenuptial agreement to actually strengthen your marriage, contact us today at 501.891.6000.