How do you bring up a halachic prenup when you’re dating? At what point in the process should you mention it?
Dear Doubting Dater,
What a great question! At the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), one of the biggest pushbacks we hear against signing a halachic prenup is that it will be awkward—so much so that it might damage the growing trust and affection in a burgeoning dating relationship.
For that reason, we recommend bringing up the prenup casually, ideally early on in the relationship. It doesn’t have to be serious and heavy; instead, you can mention that you’ve been planning to sign a prenup for a long time, ever since you [heard about it in high school] [went to a college education program] [saw an ad] [read this column].
Lots of people think a halachic prenup is something you sign because you’re insecure in your relationship, and you want an “insurance policy” of sorts against potential future get-refusal. But I’m here to tell you that if you’re signing a prenup because you think your fiancé is enough of a jerk that you’re going to need it, then please get a new fiancé and skip the prenup. Signing a halachic prenup is less about doing something for yourself and more about being part of a bigger picture and helping the broader Jewish community.
The only way to ensure that those who end up needing a prenup already have one, is to set a policy where everyone signs it. And while it might seem uncomfortable, we Jews are deeply familiar with infusing multiple emotions into one experience. Under the chuppah, we pause in one of the most joyous moments of our lives to smash the glass, reminding everyone present of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and the loss that is still part of all of our lives. While we surround our ketubah with watercolor flowers and paper cutout designs, the document itself is a contract about death and divorce, directly addressing the opposite of the “happily ever after” we all hope for. We are more than capable of pausing in the rush and excitement of wedding planning to do one small thing that could be life-changing for another member of our community.
When you discuss the prenup with your date, be clear on why you want to sign it. Clarify that it’s not because you are concerned about them specifically, but because you want to play your part in making the Jewish community a better place. Communicate that, if anything, signing a prenup is a sign of deep trust and security, because what you are saying, at core is, “I care about you so much, I want you to be treated well no matter what.”
One more note: Sometimes discussing the prenup can be a tough experience, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If this relationship works out and you two get married, you will have a lifetime of difficult conversations and issues to resolve (there will be good stuff in there too, don’t worry!). Learning the tools to communicate clearly with your partner is critical for a happy marriage, and there’s no better time than the present to get support in that area. It will help you navigate your prenup conversation and be the best possible investment in your future marriage. You are also welcome to call the ORA office for support—we help dozens of couples just like you have these conversations and understand the halachic prenup better.
The ultimate purpose of dating is to determine if the person sitting across from us at the restaurant table is going to be a good life partner to us long-term. The way to get that answer is not to avoid rocking the boat, keeping everything superficial; rather, it’s to bring up the things that matter to us and learn how to discuss them openly.
Wishing you hatzlachah on your dating journey. We can’t wait to facilitate your prenup signing soon!
Keshet Starr and the ORA Prenup Team
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