Psychology Today: Reducing Anxiety Around Getting Married

In Family Law, Prenuptial Agreements

Despite the challenges this pandemic has brought to bear on all of us, people all over the world are still falling in love, getting engaged, and getting married.

It is a wonderful, hopeful notion.

But despite the joy and excitement that comes along with starting a new and wonderful chapter of life, planning for and getting married can be extremely stressful – even without COVID-19 and all the related emotional and financial challenges in the mix.

As a matrimonial and family law attorney, I often call on mental health professionals to help my clients deal with anxiety on the “back end” of the marriage spectrum. This can include helping couples or individuals get through a divorce in the most healthy way possible, working on custody arrangements or counseling spouses coping with mental health disorders – either their own or their ex-spouse’s.

But I also work with therapists on the “front end” – when couples are engaged and planning for the next, magical phase of their lives.

Many mental health experts recommend pre-marital counseling, to learn about one another’s communication and problem-solving skills in an effort to enhance communication between the couple from the start.

I recently spoke with Barbara Bennett, a licensed marriage and family therapist, about ways couples can address pre-wedding anxiety from talk therapy to drafting a prenuptial agreement.

“The thought of getting married is romantic. However, there are many practical parts that couples may not be aware of that need consideration,” Ms. Bennett says. “For example, a prenup offers couples an opportunity to explore the emotional, practical, and financial intricacies of marriage.”

“The overt exploration of these issues provides a place to openly discuss and negotiate building blocks of trust and safety which are at the foundation of an intimate relationship,” Ms. Bennett continues. “By having these difficult conversations with the help of a professional, couples have the opportunity to reduce some of the uncertainty which produces anxiety in a marriage.”

Broaching a prenup might be daunting, but as a both a Matrimonial/Divorce Attorney and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I know first-hand how important it is to assess your current financial picture before you make the legal decision to get married. A decision, which by definition, merges financial assets and makes you and your future spouse financial partners, for better or worse.

It is well documented that many of the major conflicts in marriages are related to handling money. Understanding how each of you address saving and spending is an important building block to a healthy marriage. Many times in my practice, I have sat with clients as they are getting ready to file for divorce, and I am amazed at how little they know or knew about their partner’s financial condition.

The good news about a prenuptial agreement is that it facilitates transparency about assets and liabilities. You will learn about your future spouse’s business interests and essentially become familiar with his/her assets and liabilities including credit card debt and school loans. You will likely find out about your future spouse’s income and what comprises that income, whether it be a base salary, dividends, rental income, restricted stock and bonuses.  Learning about these more granular practical issues in the service of drafting a prenup could alleviate a lot of uncertainty that leads to anxiety and save many marriages from financial surprises down the road.

Taking the time to plan and learn more about your mutual problem-solving skills as well as current financial situation and financial goals before the marriage takes place can bring a great sense of relief when you walk down the aisle.

And, as I have been saying, during this unusually stressful time of COVID-19 and the aftermath, take care of yourself and your families. Stay safe and healthy!

This is not meant to serve as legal or mental health advice as each situation is unique. Please seek out a local attorney and or mental health professional for advice specific to your situation.

Originally published on Psychology Today.

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