India’s stigma: The Prenuptial Agreement
‘Marriage; is a permanent social agreement based on being continuously backed by a fluctuating emotion called ‘love.’
Read that again so it sinks it. For those of you who haven’t heard of one of these agreements yet, I’m not surprised given the society we live in. A prenuptial agreement is an agreement a ‘to-be’ man and wife enter prior to tying the knot. The agreement protects both the man and the woman against the financial surprises of divorce if they decide to call off the marriage in the future. Its also coloquially called a ‘Contract Marriage.’
For generations Divorce was considered taboo to even talk about. For all of us who live in tier 1 and 2 cities in India, one doesn’t need to be very bright to figure out that India’s divorce rate is on a steady rise. No harm done. Most people happen to think this is healthy. Let’s face it, a distraught, aggressive couple forever in disagreement is much worse than 2 single, happy divorcees.
But what about the financial hassles of divorce? Once again, one does’t need to be very bright to figure out that the Hindu Marriage Act and the Legal Framework surrounding marriage in general is biased in favour of one gender. In the absence of a formal agreement even a victim of ‘adultery’ may be required to cough up huge sums of money towards alimony and child support payment for a long time. So why the prenuptial agreement stigma? What better than to have a draft agreement on record, a form of insurance, that helps the courts decide on who gets what, based on the circumstances that lead to the divorce.
The stigma surrounding Prenuptial Agreements / Contract Marriages is so prevalent in India that people just about throw anything in your face as an explanation against it. A classic one being, “Why think negatively right at the beginning? Why think of divorce even before you get married?” By that very logic, how about we stop buying car insurance, because in an ideal world, accidents never happen. Let’s stop insuring ourselves for medical insurance and critical care insurance, because in an ideal world, there is no disease!
A prenuptial agreement is as important a requirement as ANY other form of insurance, the sooner the average Indian realises this, the better.
So here’s a few standard counters you might get if you bring up prenuptial agreements among friends and relatives. One might want to try rebutting with common sense.
“Prenuptial agreements are against Indian culture”
Newsflash! So was divorce till a few decades ago. Move on from 1955 and stare 2015 in the face.
“Why think about money when the most dear thing to you is falling apart?”
Of course! Why think about money? Money only just about buys you food, clothes, an education, gadgets, holidays, investments, a secure retirement and my personal favourite, it helps you restore the 50% you lost in the divorce. Are we still taking the moral high ground?
“Asking for a prenuptial agreement might just make him/her call it off”
Sure it might. It also tells you a lot about the potential frame of mind of the person you’re going to marry.
“Did he / she ask you for a prenuptial agreement? Jesus! He / She doesn’t love you.”
No. He / she loves you to bits! Its just that he / she recognises the fact that the world changes everyday and you as people change everyday. Hence, given a different set of circumstances tomorrow, the both of you may end up in very different places emotionally or otherwise. He / she loves you alright, you just don’t want to bet too much on the future. In the world of practicality betting too far is called ‘excessive gambling.’ In the world of finance it’s called ‘Futures & Options’ or ‘A naked short sell.’ In the world of marriage, the solution is a ‘Prenuptial Agreement.’