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NC State study finds some interesting perspectives on prenups

Even two decades into the 21st century, many people still have negative views about prenuptial agreements. They may believe that a prenup is just an “exit plan” to help someone leave a marriage that hasn’t even begun or that it shows a lack of faith that the marriage will stand the test of time. Yet couples of all ages and financial situations are putting prenups in place before they take their vows.

Researchers at North Carolina State University sought to get some clarity about just how people feel about prenups these days. The problem is that they couldn’t find enough people willing to talk to them about what can still be considered a sensitive topic. So they went someplace where people are free to speak their mind: the internet – specifically Reddit. They reviewed close to 600 threads related to prenups. 

The NC State researchers found that of the 26,000+ comments included in those threads, more were positive about prenups than negative. They also found that a number of Redditors who felt favorably about them used metaphors to explain their value.

Common metaphors that help people understand and explain prenups

One of these metaphors involves insurance. People get insurance just in case the unexpected – and sometimes unimaginable – happens. As one person explained, “Nobody plans on crashing their car, getting cancer, or having their house burn down but they still get car, health and home insurance.”

Another metaphor involves thinking of marriage as a contract – which, after all, it is. If two companies merge, they have a contract that defines myriad details and expectations for both parties. Why shouldn’t two people who enter into marriage have an agreement that codifies some expectations? 

An NC State professor involved with the study says, “It was clear from following these online dialogues that metaphors served as a powerful tool for helping people not only understand what prenuptial agreements are, but what purposes they serve.” She noted that “we know from other research that open communication about financial issues contributes to successful relationships.” She added that prenups “encourage people to talk about their finances and what they can do to protect each other.”

If you’re having difficulty convincing the person you intend to marry to agree to a prenup, one or more of these metaphors provide you with a helpful way to approach the topic.