Why A Prenup May Increase the Chances of Divorce

We often make decisions based upon anticipated results.

And these decisions often have unintended consequences.

We often act to limit risk.

And sometimes these actions actually increase what we’re trying to avoid.


As the awareness of the long-term impact of head injuries on mental and brain health has increased, there has been a corresponding increase in the amount of padding and protection surrounding the head of football players. On the surface, it makes sense.

Damage due to excessive forces on the skull that are transferred to the brain? Simply pad the skull and brain better so that the forces are transferred elsewhere and the damage is mitigated.

But that’s not what seems to be happening. Even as the equipment improves, the incidence and severity of head injuries in football remains high.

And some people are responding by calling for additional safety equipment.

But others are taking the opposite stance and advocating for the removal of the helmets, at least during practice.

They point to the disparity in head injuries between the NFL (where players are shielded behind lots of protection) and rugby (just as brutal yet with minimal protection). And it turns out that those vulnerable-seeming rugby players have fewer and less severe head injuries.

Because when we feel invulnerable, we change our behavior.

The NFL players, feeling safe and feeling no pain behind their layers of padding and shielding, show little hesitancy to lead with their heads. Over time, they develop a confidence in their helmets and no longer engage in instinctive self-protective behaviors meant to guard the vulnerable brain.

In contrast, the relatively exposed rugby players never feel safe. They never grow complacent upon their safety gear. When they use too much force, they feel it, getting the immediate feedback that tells them to let up or suffer the consequences. And they learn if they want to keep their head safe, they better keep it out of the way. Some studies are currently being carried out on HS football players in the U.S. and preliminary results are indicating that students that refrain from wearing helmets in practices suffer fewer and less severe head injuries in play.

This unanticipated change in behavior doesn’t only occur on the football field. As cars have become safer and more automated, people take more risks on the road because of a perceived sense of safety. The increased padding in running shoes encourages a new runner to tackle more miles than he or she is ready for as the discomfort to the feet is lessened. Even credit lines that promise no interest for a period of time encourage people to take more risks because the impact occurs at a later time.

Because when we feel invulnerable, we change our behavior.


So what do padded helmets on football players, airbags in cars and credit card offers have to do with prenups and divorce?

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a piece of safety equipment secured to a marriage. It gives a sense of security. Of invulnerability.

And when people feel invulnerable, they change their behavior.

Risks that were once deemed too risky now seem perfectly acceptable.

And when we’re assured we’re safe, we no longer worry about protection. 

There is a benefit to feeling and fearing the pain of impact. To carefully weighing risks and rewards. And when that impact of an action is softened, the actions may only become even more intense.

In other words, if you believe that your prenup will protect you from the fallout of divorce, you may not act to protect the marriage from divorce.

By no means am I advocating that you refrain from seeking a prenuptial agreement.

Only that you realize its limitations.

And the potential unintended consequences.

Because even though it may help to protect your bank account from the impact of divorce, it cannot soften the other effects.

And they are often much more damaging in the long run.

Thank you for sharing!

7 thoughts on “Why A Prenup May Increase the Chances of Divorce

  1. Mary Lou – I'm still here and loving it! Nostalgia isn't my all-time favorite past time. I like to live in the present and look forward. When you reach a certain point in life it's good to look back and review this journey with new eyes ~ in a different place in time. I've arrived at a place in my life where the experiences I've had are coming together to form a collage of beauty and strength. A time where I can put a little more time into my love for water color painting and writing. Creating this website allows me to share some of the expressions of my gratitude and amazement of where this journey has taken me. It's my hope that it will encourage others to share their own story through written word and art.
    Mary Lou says:

    Great points! I can see where a pre-nup is needed in older marriages where children from a former marriage and/or certain assets are concerned. I always felt, though, that a pre-nup kind of anticipated problems ……. setting up expectations of failure.

  2. Nope. A pre-nup is what made my separation sane. I don’t think it anticipates failure – it protects you where the law may not. I hated divorcing as I thought it was a failure in me – but having the pre-nip gave me a sense of grounding. It kept thing relatively civil – a sit was what we’d agreed when we were together and nit anticipating that this would happen. I understand it’s not for everyone but it’s pragmatic and forces you to talk about things.

  3. Another example of this is fear of being hurt. Often people build walls around themselves, to “protect” themselves from being hurt. After all, if you don’t let someone in and you never allow yourself to be fully vulnerable around another person, then they can’t hurt you as much, right?

    Unfortunately the mere act of keeping walls up minimizes the closeness and trust that relationships require.

    Often this very act of self protection is the thing that causes the relationship to fail.

  4. Hah, I would have to agree. I’ve had a number of times where I’ve read something on your blog and thought “I wish I had written that”, or there have been thematic similarities to something I’ve either written or am working on.

    Similar philosophies I guess 🙂

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