As a couples counselor, the issue of pre-nuptial agreements is common. The discussion is usually about whether or not to have one. I have a different slant on the idea of pre-nups. Marrying is adding a legal contract to a relationship. The question isn’t does a couple want a pre-nup. The question is who do you want to write it? Couples really don’t have a choice.

When you marry, you agree to a pre-nup written by the state. If it’s a good idea to read any legal contract before you sign, it’s a good idea to read the one the state offers regarding your marriage and possible divorce. I suggest creating a pre-nup to examine underlying belief systems the couple has about what their marriage will be and to make conscious decisions about divorce based on the personalities of the people involved and not state laws.

If a couple is already married, I often suggest a post-nuptial agreement since circumstances have changed. Again, it’s a good way to more deeply explore the couple’s values, work through differences and if done well, leave each partner feeling more secure.

In my experience, couples who have satisfying relationships have worked out arrangements that differ form the storybook idea of a marriage. Discussing a pre or post-nup is a great way to further create the kind of relationship that feels safe and loving to both parties.