#4: Economic Agency
Where would literature be without the seemingly endless wellspring of stories of men and women trapped in ‘loveless marriages,’ unable to leave because of the financial repercussions?
Everyone from Lady Chatterley and Madame Bovary to the characters in Austen’s own Pride and Prejudice face the prospect of, live through, or attempt to break with this kind of soured union, always facing dire consequences and rarely living ‘happily ever after,’ as one so often expects marriage to be.
It isn’t as if economic inequality and a lack of agency are things of the past. Those aforementioned characters, to say nothing of untold citizen who have had to stay married for economic reasons, certainly could have benefited from a prenuptial agreement, and the economic agency the can provide.
One of the most common criticisms against these kind of premarital insurance measures is that it’s ‘unromantic.’ After all, nothing says romance like lawyers, paperwork, and more paperwork, right?
Or so the thinking goes. And, in fairness, there is a ring of truth to that. On the other hand, however, there’s nothing more vital to a marriage than trust, and paradoxical as it sounds, a prenup can actually help with that, as it shows both parties respect one another enough to care about their emotional and economic independence without feeling threatened.
Economic agency is really another term for personal security. You cannot feel fully free and in control of your own destiny if you feel trapped economically, and after all, it is freedom and the ability of couples to live and love freely that makes marriage worthwhile in the first place.
Put in those terms, a prenuptial agreement and the economic agency it guarantees really doesn’t sound all that unromantic anymore, does it?