Till contractual obligations do us part

Marriage has taken a consumerist turn as pre- and postnups become the norm.


Surely you're not marrying me for the money?
(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

Call me old-fashioned, but I think the idea of a prenuptial agreement goes against the whole "till death do us part" idea of marriage. It appears I'm not alone. "Only two things are certain: death and taxes, not divorce," says James Baldock in Metro. A prenup isn't like a will, which deals with an inevitable situation.

"In a marriage most actions are under your joint control, at least in the way you both react to them." But the prevailing mindset now seems to be a consumerist one. If you don't like what you have, simply trade it in for a shinier model. "We live in a disposable culture and marriage, it seems, has gone the same way."

Baldock's colleague Rebecca Reid disagrees. "Of course you should have a prenup," she says. Her girlfriends were "horrified" by her fianc's insistence on one, but "the more I thought about it, the more sense it made" we wouldn't go on holiday without insurance, not because we think we're going to need shipping home in body bags, but because it's prudent how do I know how angry or grasping I might become in the dissolution of a marriage"?

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Prenups have now become so widespread that many couples are deciding to take them out even after they get hitched. "Half of the members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said in a survey in late 2015 that they were being asked to write more postnups'," says Ben Steverman on Bloomberg. The reasons for postnups fall into two categories. Firstly, some couples, "just run out of time before their weddings to get a regular prenup and seek a postnup instead". In other cases, "a couple is estranged, but they're willing to take a chance on a reconciliation".

Still, even if "it is best to be crystal clear and perhaps embarrassed than to be vague and evasive and to cry over spilt milk afterwards", there is an etiquette to all this. So, a woman who wants to protect her wealth, without upsetting her fianc, should bring up the subject "when he is brushing his teeth, which minimises his ability to speak", advises David Tang in the Financial Times. You should also "mention nonchalantly" that you would like to sign "together with you a sort of prenup", emphasising the word "together" to "dilute your selfishness". If he protests, "try the humorous line: but you are surely not marrying me for money like a gigolo?"

Even the best constructed prenups can go wrong, as Qatari businessman Wissam Al Mana has found out. Al Mana, whose net worth is an estimated $1bn, agreed a prenup that meant that his partner "was entitled to $100m if the couple stayed married for five years and another $100m if they had a child". She left him almost immediately after their five-year anniversary.

Not all prenups are about money though. Cambridge University is exhibiting a marriage contract from medieval Cairo, as part of a wider collection of Jewish documents. Toviyya, the groom, "evidently had quite a reputation", says Maev Kennedy in The Guardian. He "swore in front of witnesses that his life would henceforth be blamelessly dull" and promised "to avoid mixing with bad company" for the purpose of "eating, drinking or anything else".

Tabloid money Noisy? That's the sound of the economy ticking over

Builders working on singer Robbie Williams' £17m west London home have been fined £4,670 for sawing up a shed on a Sunday after his neighbour, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, complained. "In some ways I sympathise with his Jimmyness," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. But only up to a point.

If you choose to live in London, you have to accept life is rarely going to be peaceful. Page lives in a part of town "where a house is sold to a Russian billionaire who guts it, digs out a four-storey basement and then immediately sells it to another Russian billionaire who guts it again and adds a new underground floor to house his nuclear submarine It's noisy, but it's the sound of the economy turning over. It's the sound of life and commerce and employment. And we have to put up with that."

I was sorry to hear that Prince Philip is retiring from his royal duties at the age of 95, says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. "Mainly because it reminds us that in 20 years' time, that's the age everyone will be made to work to before they get a state pension I just hope Phil will be able to get by on the £122.30-a-week pension (that's if he doesn't get sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions for leaving the job of his own accord), especially with those big heating bills."

It is "more than reasonable to expect the old to pay up [for their care] if they can", says Ann Widdecombe in The Daily Express. "Savings for a rainy day should be called upon when the rain pours." That may not make heirs happy, but "the state has no duty to secure anybody's inheritance". But there is "one other measure which would make an enormous difference" to the cost of looking after our elders. Once, this duty fell mainly on their children, with the state stepping in only as a last resort. "We may yet have to rediscover that model."