Healthy conflict resolution is crucial to a happy marriage. Negotiation of a prenuptial agreement (also called antenuptial agreement or sometimes just a prenup) provides opportunity for couples not only to decide some substantive issues, but also to discuss how they will resolve conflict when it occurs. By having candid conversations about things that may cause conflict, as well as establishing ground rules for fighting fair, marriages can be strengthened by the inquiry and discussion that goes into the prenup negotiation process.
A prenuptial agreement will cover specific things. Many people have the mistaken impression that a prenuptial agreement is just a way for one spouse to limit the rights of another in the event of divorce. This is a very limited view. Especially when second or later marriages are concerned, a prenup can protect both parties. For instance, if a person is about to marry another person who may have exposure to some liability, the parties can agree on measures to protect the innocent spouse from potential liability. By protecting one party, such an agreement in fact provides a measure of financial safety for both.
On a more personal level, a mediator can assist a young couple in learning to fight fair and in establishing methods for dealing with conflict in advance of need. Mediator and attorney Ken Cloke asks, for example:
- If you were to write a ‘Marital Constitution,’ what would you want to include?
- What would the Preamble say?
- The Bill of Rights?
- How would you like to make decisions regarding different issues?
- What will you want to do or say, and not do or say when you find yourselves in conflict?”
Mediation is an excellent forum for discussion of both substantive issues as well as general conflict resolution issues. Mediators are trained in processes and techniques for resolving conflict. These can be applied pro-actively as ground rules for fighting fair. A foundation of fighting fair then strengthens and contributes to the health of the marriage. Thus, mediation of a prenuptial agreement doesn’t just help the couple agree on property division. It inoculates couples against harmful conflict.
If you are getting married, consider mediation of a prenup. No one is harmed by having one, and it may do a world of good by stopping trouble before it ever gets a chance to start.
While I’m pleased that many people read different meanings into it, the logo of Just Mediation, LLC, was intended to represent two parties and the mediator joined together in three attached rings, and being drawn through the rigid structure in the background.