Is marriage an affair of the head, heart and soul, or a legal contract? One is romantic and the other practical. What do you think? If you want a pre-nuptial how would you get your thoughts across to your partner?

I first came across this issue many years ago early in my practice. I was seeing a 49 year old airline pilot. He had a pied a Terre in Manhattan, a small sail boat and a house on the North Fork of Long Island. His fiancée was a 38 year old airline stewardess, living alone in Florida. She accepted his proposal of marriage; however, the pilot’s attorney suggested a prenuptial agreement.

His fiance felt hurt and threatened to break off the engagement. How could she enjoy his boat and house as a playground of her own, if she had to sign a legal contract? Imagine the difference if he asked her to share sunsets on the bay, his love of sailing, and the sea without the legal contract. Is this romance more real than with a prenuptial contact? What do you think?

I know the world has changed since then. Marriage then was a sacrament “Until death do us part.” Today one wonders if the wife I chose at 25 or 30 is the one I wish to be with at 50. What about the wife who wants out and wishes to take what she can with her? Perhaps men are the true romantics; when a man is proposing the woman is already furnishing the living room. Perhaps women are years ahead in wanting a close relationship. It seems marriage is a stepping stone for a woman. For men, it can feel like a wish. If he succeeds, she is happy and if he doesn’t she might regard him as a “cotton picking farmer”. You know the old blues song “A woman is a two faced thing who gets to sing the blues in the night.” Seriously, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. So that many people marry and divorce more often and at different times in their life

So is a prenuptial a gateway to divorce or our adult understanding of what we can expect if the marriage ends. What to you think?

Many parents become anxious when faced with meeting prospective in-laws for the first time. This is especially true during the holidays, which have special meaning unto them selves. Holidays have always been a time for family and now there is the prospect of expanding family boundaries and admitting other people who might not be like our selves. Sometimes they are very different and come from different cultures, different ways of thinking and reacting. Our children love each other but questions about how we will get along often haunt us. Will they like us? Will we like them? Will we have enough to talk to them about so that we can survive and even enjoy our holiday with them? Will we embarrass or disappoint our son/daughter?

I have often counseled couples to embrace the other and be interested in them. Reaching out and asking them questions often makes the other person feel that you are interested in them and predisposes them to be open to you and even like you. It creates a positive atmosphere in which to get to know each other better. This will help your adult children to relax and enjoy them selves as well.

Barbara Feld

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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