May 7, 2006

The Marriage Trap

This is a very interesting article about a woman's need to protect financial assets during and after marriage.

I think it's something every woman should consider, whether or not she calls herself a Christian. We've all heard the exhortations about marriage from the platform, and read them in our Bibles. God does intend, and expects, marriage to last forever, and you should enter into it with that viewpoint. This is why, in my congregation, young people are urged to wait until they marry. They are told to know themselves first, to live as single adults for a few years, and gain some maturity before undertaking this permanent relationship.

Most people, secular or religious, don't get married with the idea that it might someday fail. To do so is considered unromantic and cynical, and even counter-productive. "How can you make a go of your marriage if you're already planning for divorce?" is considered a pertinent question by many. The end result of this societal pressure is a lot of people bind themselves to another person with no more forethought than what they're going to have for dinner that night.

But divorce statistics tell another story. The facts are that nearly fifty percent of first marriages end in divorce, with an even higher percentage for second marriages. The stats for committed Christians are likely lower, but the fact remains that a Christian woman's marriage might end in divorce, no matter how hard she tries. This was true even in Bible times, as Paul wrote.

"But if the husband or wife who isn't a Christian is eager to leave, it is permitted. In such cases the Christian husband or wife should not insist that the other stay, for God wants his children to live in peace and harmony." (1 Corinthians 7:15)

This is referring to a Christian married to a non-Christian, but the principle applies in Christian marriages also. If your spouse really wants to leave, you can't hog-tie him or her into staying. Sometimes one person isn't as committed to God and partner as the other, and a Christian wife should recognize that this might take place.

Therefore, I believe all Christian women, before entering into marriage, should take steps to ensure their assets are protected.

If this sounds like a lack of trust, so be it. In my case, my future husband's refusal to sign a prenuptial agreement would be a deal-breaker. People do change throughout life, sometimes not for the better, and I'm not about to risk the money and property I've worked hard for two decades to acquire. (Obviously, this would have to be discussed long before the marriage took place. A man's chronic inability to handle money, as opposed to a genuine bad break, is such a red flag for me it's highly unlikely the relationship would ever make it to that point.) I would be happy to sign a dual prenuptial agreement--each spouse, in the event of divorce, keeps assets acquired before the marriage, and only money and property acquired during marriage is divided. (In a community property state like mine, I'm sure there would have to be a lot of legalese accompanying this, as well as things like separate checking accounts to make sure the assets aren't co-mingled.)

I don't believe it's sinful or un-Christian to insist on this. Since it's an established fact that women fare worse after divorce than men, especially women with children, a woman should think ahead and make sure she is protected. A good credit rating is worth more than gold or diamonds nowadays--everyone checks on it, from employers to insurance companies. If I think a prospective husband is going to drag me down, he's not going to be around, and it's as simple as that.

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