Dear Dr. Gilda,
I got divorced last year and recently met a wonderful woman. While at first I thought, “Never again will I be foolish enough to marry,” I can’t help but want to propose to my new love! She makes me giddy with happiness. Now, on to the problem: I’m 45 years old and she’s 30 years old. She doesn’t seem to care about the age difference, but my kids and my friends sure do. I’m not sure what the future holds, so to be fair to myself if things go wrong, I want be able to protect my assets. Do you think setting up a pre-nuptial agreement would be a good idea? If so, how can I go about talking to her about it without coming across as a negative, bitter, divorced older man who sees her as a gold digger? I really love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. Please help!
- Fool Me Twice?
Dear Fool Me Twice,
Based on your signature alone, I suspect you’re a tad distrusting! Since you feel you’ve already been down the road of being snookered by one ex-wife, of course you don’t want to err again in remarriage. So no one can fault you for trying to protect yourself. In fact, most people of means choose the pre-nup route. But is your own indecisiveness about your girlfriend actually inviting a lack of trust among your friends and family? Understand the full meaning behind my Gilda-Gram: “No matter what the issue, everyone packs an agenda.” And often, the agenda they discuss is not the agenda they actually have.
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Your kids’ agenda may be based on their concerns about their own inheritance or the replacement of their mother. Or perhaps they fear, as you do, that you will be “taken.” Your friends’ agenda may include envy of your new sweet young thing. All these people must butt out. You don’t want your girlfriend to decide that while you’re being protective of your assets, you’re not protecting her from naysayers. And doing so will be essential for your new relationship to thrive.
You say you’re not certain what the future holds; who is? From the sounds of this, it’s more your distrust than the age difference that has you worried. So think carefully about your intentions and commitment to making this new relationship work and last for the long haul.
Now, if you’re ready to do that and if you want a pre-nup, don’t spring this idea on your girlfriend right before you guys are about to walk down the aisle. To be sure that your new marriage has a longer shelf life than your first, follow this action plan:
1. Don’t even consider re-marrying until you feel you deeply trust this woman — pre-nup or no pre-nup. She may be young, but she’s not without her own feelings. For a marriage to last, there must be equal trust between partners.
2. On neutral territory that is neither her place nor yours, communicate to your lady your honest wishes and concerns about protecting your financial assets. Then, observe her response. If she is agreeable, you will know that she is a winner. But if she vehemently objects, you will need to examine what her agenda is in the future.
3. To ensure that the outsiders don’t interfere, thank them for their concerns and let them know you’ll make your own decision. That’s it; end of discussion. It’s time for you to move ahead with your best interests in mind.