There seem to be two kinds of people in the world: pro-prenup and against. It took a friend of mine months to finalize her divorce because she and her husband disagreed on what was “hers” versus “his,” while another friend’s ex tossed his belongings out the front door in black Hefty bags, citing their prenuptial agreement. I had mixed feelings about prenups until the day our new landlady asked my boyfriend, Gordon, and me to not only sign a lease, but also a relationship prenup.
In the event Gordon and I broke up, it specified who would take over the apartment, financially. He and I haphazardly decided it would be him since he made more money than I did—and it was a hypothetical situation that wasn’t going to come true, anyway.
“The last tenants got engaged while living here,” Mrs. C., the grandmotherly landlady, boasted, winking. She took a pen out of her housecoat pocket and handed it over like a lawyer. “This is a ‘just in case’ agreement. You understand.”
Gordon and I did—sort of—and laughed as we signed it.
What’s a twelve-month lease when we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together?
“When you know it’s right, it’s right,” Gordon told her as he signed his name, the plastic-covered couch squeaking as he did so.
“You know, you can add more items to the document,” Mrs. C. suggested.
“What’s mine is now Natalia’s,” Gordon said, putting his hand on mine.
We felt lucky to get the duplex. But seven months into living together, Gordon and I were no longer laughing the way we had on Mrs. C’s couch. We broke up and it felt as though that prenup pen stabbed me in the chest.
Getting an apartment together had been a huge deal for Gordon and me—neither of us had lived with a boyfriend or girlfriend before. It was also my first lease in over four years. In 2009, I had given up my apartment after suddenly being laid off. While I looked for work, I couch-surfed and lived with a different friend each week. Staying in one place for more than seven-day increments would be new to me.