Is signing a PRENUP or PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT in India a good idea?
Leaving the whole world shocked, tech and philanthropic power couple, and Co-Founders of Microsoft, announced their separation earlier last week. Putting out a joint statement, Melinda and Bill Gates left us bewildered when they declared that they have decided to end their rock-solid 27 years of marriage, which crumbled due to “irretrievable differences”. Weren’t they always touted as the ‘IT’ couple to look up to as an inspiration of eternal love? But through it all, what struck out the most to us is that they never had or intended to have a prenup or prenuptial agreement in place.
While it may be surprising to a few, a lot of us could still find it understandable, as both of them are financially strong in their own right. However, this really got us brooding, whether in its entirety, is it intelligent to draw a prenup before entering a marriage? Yes, it is a common procedure in the West, but in a culturally and religiously guarded society like India, it is not deemed acceptable. Seemingly controversial, is it time to uproot our deep-rooted patriarchal values as our society is going through a modernized transformation?
Should the practice of PRENUP AGREEMENTS in Indian be encouraged further?
Remember the iconic scene from the feminist-frenzy film, ‘Veere Di Wedding’ starring four fiery stalwarts, which touched upon this ‘settlement’? Having gone on the infamous “arranged marriage date” set up by her mother, Sonam Kapoor’s character shudders at this very notion suggested by a potential suitor. Wasn’t it just ironic considering that she played a divorce lawyer in the film?
Reiterating on this harsh truth, a prenup or prenuptial agreement or premarital agrement, whatever you may like to call, is frowned upon in our culture, as well as by the marriage laws designed in our country. In India, people pay great heed to this sacred institution, which is considered sanctimonious and pious; a holy union intertwining two souls into a forever. Although we value the high commitment levels that our culture emphasizes upon, such an agreement doesn’t take away from the integrity of such a partnership, rather the opposite of that; it considers them equal. Isn’t it funny how we create a fuss about this, but asking for dowry is still a reality in many parts of our country?
Coming to the main point, we’re all aware that a prenup or prenuptial agreement is a contract entered by two parties before they get married. Duly signed and registered, it is designed to safeguard the interests of both parties in the unfortunate event of seeking a divorce or premature death. It generally covers issues such as the distribution of properties and assets bought together or individually during the tenure of marriage, custody of children, and division of liabilities such as child-rearing or alimony settlement. You’re not alone if you feel that this may take away from the romanticism and purity of a matrimonial relationship, rescinding the very purpose of embracing this otherwise exhilarating chapter. No one enters a union rooting for it to fail, thereby giving into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Women today, are no longer willing to put up with varied atrocities, while men too are becoming more supportive of their wives having ambitions in life. Despite the outcry surrounding gender equality and sharing the load, there seems to be a major disparity in their wealth. Due to the stigma surrounding divorce, couples choose to stay in unhappy marriages, rather than separating and re-building a life, which can give them a chance to actually be the best versions of themselves.
Consequently, as a society, we are witnessing a steep increase in divorce rates in India. With women becoming increasingly financially independent, she is confident enough to support herself. Sure, it lightens the burden on our courthouses, which may have to run such cases for years together. The estranged couple on the other hand also has to deal with the added emotional trauma pertaining to ugly custody battles, re-allocation of properties and assets.
Even in contemporary times, don’t we hear stories about infidelity or abuse at the hands of several husbands? We’re not generalizing all men, but this practice is quite rampant in our country. A woman is expected to tolerate the physical and emotional abuse, mainly for the delusional sense of security of her children and herself. But, what sort of safety is this? Especially homemakers, therefore, endure this abomination, and report impertinent mental health issues, since our law doesn’t recognize their roles at a base level.
Our mothers may not have worked in the outside world, but ought we not to give them credit for their sheer dedication and perseverance to ensure that we have all that we need to progress in our individual fields. As a platform that empowers women, we aim at uplifting our beautiful belles! Having a prenup in place can help them garner courage, and say enough is enough when the time is ripe. Moreover, as horrifying as it sounds, but with our certain staunch ideologies about social norms, classist attitudes, or even the rampant gender inequality, it makes sense to put it down on paper so that on a personal level, one may have their belongings and dignity affixed.
Considering that we tend to open joint accounts, or give our better halves our financial power, in case if things go downhill, isn’t there a chance of losing everything. Moreover, it may provide you with the resources to restart your lives whilst maintaining your standard of living.
Apologies for going down the patriarchal lane! In no way, are we intending to bash our better halves, who are with us through sickness and health. If you got lucky with a gorgeous, loving and compassionate partner, thank your stars. Many times, in this process, we may not be completely compatible with our partners, rendering it loveless and lacking intimacy. Rather than feeling trapped, isn’t it better to set each other free? Under these settling circumstances, many times men turn out to be at the receiving end as they are seen as the breadwinners. And, in India, our law does gravitate towards females; often times granting them with the sole physical or joint custody of their children. Consequently, their maintenance fees can be hefty too, irrespective of their partners’ financial situation. Having this contract in place can ease a lot of these knick-knacks in the future.
Right from deciding the terms pertaining to their shared and separate assets, alimony (irrespective of their earning powers), or even their division of incomes during their alliance, it aims to ensure that none of the parties feel exploited and that their split is amicable and non-stressful.
DOES THIS SO CALLED CULTURAL ANTITHESIS WEAKEN THE BASE OF MARRIAGE?
While this sensitive topic has long been a sensational matter of debate, it is truly thought-provoking! Irrespective of us being traditional or modern, don’t we all yearn for that ‘head over heels’ true love in our lives? Let’s not forget that we discover a lot of things about a person, once we physically start living with them. And, in the case of a marriage, we do enter with the mindset of everlasting love. When it comes to our biological families, we are born into these households, who raise us to be who we are, but that’s not the case with a marriage. Agreed that we chose them, but is it worth staying in an unsatisfying marriage devoid of its essence just because of the gigantic taboo associated with it?
In our country, the prenup or prenuptial agreement is not legalized, but that’s one practice that several women’s organizations are striving to be accepted. True, it may be seen as insulting or going against the very idea of this sacred union, but aren’t times changing? Should it really be seen as a hindrance or relegating the very meaning of this relationship? Yes, a marriage is built on the basis of trust, honesty and loyalty, with a vow to stand by each other through thick and thin. From the standpoint of a romantic hero, we may disagree to agree, but normalizing it is definitely not a bad idea.
As it is any heartbreak takes a toll on us, but is this added man-made obstacle necessary? When we do decide to devote and share our lives with each other, we may later realize that it was not the decision for us. If you feel you’ve worked on saving your relationship, and there are irreconcilable differences, then it’s okay to move on. And, being the feminists that we are, we don’t take away from the fact that this agreement incorporates fairness at all levels, and protects both men and women. As women of the 21st century, we too, should own our stand and even credit those gem-like men who support this refreshing change.
Lastly, doesn’t this question bring us to the adage, ‘it’s all in the mind’? While there may not be a textbook right or wrong answer, we possess the power to discuss these intricacies with our future spouse healthily, delicately and empathetically. When you’ve mutually drawn up a future plan for unlikely circumstances in a positive manner, trust and respect will follow.
Moreover, speaking on a deeper level, won’t it actually connect us and appreciate our future Mr.Right in a better light. Our thought processes say a lot about our personalities, say ladies?
To sign off, a prenuptial agreement shouldn’t be misconstrued as an easy getaway pass. We advise you to proceed once you and your partner are on the same page in a manner befitting two individuals who highly respect and complement each other. Bidding adios, we would love to know your take on this intriguing, but contentious subject in our comments section below.